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Views of a foster child

(44 Posts)
Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 21:00:34

Have been asked on a previous thread to start a thread about experiences and feeling of being a looked after kid. Anyone who wants to share their own experiences and thoughts please post! Anyone looking for insight or questions please ask.

I don't want to get in to to much about my past or why I was fostered but I'll give you the bare bones. I was passed pillar to post between my mum dad and paternal GPs. I was sleeping around and taking drugs. I used to disappear for days and days because I wanted to be with my friends. Most of my "friends" were older and drug addicts I wanted to be like them, the other half of my "friends" were drug dealers or girls like me. Stupid girls with low self esteem that would do anything for love.

I got placed in FC at 14 after I ran away from my nans in my dressing gown, I hated being indoors, my nan and grandad used to constantly argue about me. My grandad shouted it was him or me to my nan and so I properly ran away. In the end the police brought me back a few weeks later and no one would take me back, emergency SW came out and took me to a BnB and left me till a placement came up.

I loved being in FC for all the wrong reasons, I loved no one cared whether I came home or not, yes they would ring the police but no one was bothered. I loved having a taxi to take me to school I quickly found out all I was entitled to IE laptop for school, £100 birthday and christmas. Anything I wanted I could complain about to SW and she would try to get it from FP for me. I loved they couln't tell me what to do or place any bounderies, I could get excluded from school with no grounding, no disappointed faces waiting for me.

None of that made up for I was still wanting to be wanted. The more I acted up the more I just wanted someone to love me. The first FC was a bitch. An A class bitch. We were only allowed brown bread toast or weetabix with no sugar for breakfast not even proper butter. We had to be out the house all day till 8:30 and not in each others rooms past 9pm. If we came home hungry we were offered brown bread toast or tomato soup nothing else ever.

I wanted to get moved so much, I hated living there but no one would move me, so me and sarah (her names not sarah she was another FC and we were friends) trashed her house. We poured bleach all over her new landing carpet all over her clothes. Ruined her bathroom that we wern't allowed to use and wrecked everything. In the end we opened all the christmas presents in her bedroom (took what we wanted) and led on her bed smoking using a picture of her son as an ashtray.

I really was not a nice teen, theres more but this post will be to long anyway.

So basically in the 2 years I was in care (left day after my 16th birthday) I had 8 placements including respite. Every single time I went somewhere new, this feeling of not being wanted and just used for money intensified. No one can imagine turning up at some strangers house with your black bags looking at where your going to be living from now on. Its the most insecure feeling you could imagine. You finish the paperwork they act so nice (and patronising) the SW leaves you and you go to your room to unpack, and don't feel you can go back down again. You sit there hungry and thirsty but you can't leave the room.

I was such a brattish entilted loud sweary smoking brash tell you how I went joyriding last night type of teenager. You would never of guessed how much I used to hurt inside. Most nights I went to sleep crying over the slightest criticism and feeling of not belonging. The smallest things like not buying the right butter becomes a huge thing that I don't feel anyone who hasn't been there can understand.

The lovliest FC was a no nonsense blunt older single lady. She wouldn't let me have a TV in my bedroom because she wanted me to be around downstairs on an evening. She baked the best ever chocolate tortes and cakes and made me sit up at the dining table every day even if we wern't talking. She let me read her extensive books collections, I had my own bathroom and she trusted me. I still didn't have bounderies as such but I never really broke her rules. Most of the FC I didn't care if they said you can't do that or go there, I would do it anyway but I couldn't be that brash with her. Even though she was such a lovely person I hated it when her family was around, I didn't feel I fitted in and would just disappear. To them I was just another kid there mum had. I would look around at them and feel out of place.

To this day I still feel socially awkward like I don't belong, has got much better. I have my own flat, 2 beautiful children a job, I don't smoke or take drugs anymore, this last year I feel part of society and secure. (sure thats the counselling I had)

I actually feel nervous posting this as a why would anyone care what I went through or about me but argh here goes!

KnickersOnOnesHead Sun 28-Oct-12 21:16:14

Marking my place to come back later. Good thread though.

AgentProvocateur Sun 28-Oct-12 21:16:50

I'm sorry your childhood was so shit, and I'm really pleased that you have a good life now. I'm sure your experiences will make you a great mum. Maybe in the future, you could consider fostering - there probably aren't many foster parents who know how it feels to be a cared-for child.

KnickersOnOnesHead Sun 28-Oct-12 21:30:10

I was in care from 13/14. Residential homes and foster placements. It is true what inneedofbrandy has said, especially ''I loved being in FC for all the wrong reasons, I loved no one cared whether I came home or not, yes they would ring the police but no one was bothered.''

I drank, I took drugs, I ran away, I got pregnant at 14 but miscarried. I got involved with a much older man. I shoplifted, got excluded from school, and did other illegal things....the reason why......well, what was stopping me?! I ran away, got reported as a mis-per after 10pm, found in the early hours by the police who brought me 'home' then I'd leg it again. I was rude and insolent. I felt no-one cared so why should I.

At 15 I had 2 FC'ers. The first one had me for a couple of weeks but had a family emergency so could no longer care for me. I 'ran away' from the second. I had only been there a few days, I stole £6. The police brought me back to her, she opened the door and threw out my bags and wouldn't take me back. I ended up back in a home. I was 'discharged' from the home on my 16th birthday with my pocket money and ended up in a half way hostel. The leaving care team were a god send, helping me get a flat, and on the right path of becoming an adult.

Again, like the op...I cried myself to sleep most nights, feeling unloved and unwanted. Feeling like no-one cared. The day I was discharged from hospital after my miscarriage was the worse. All I wanted, needed, was a hug, but I did not get it. Instead I got 'well, you wouldn't of been able to keep it anyway'.

I was a little bastard, don't get me wrong, I really was. Some people saw the good side of me, but not many.

I self-harmed for a long time from 14-18. Still have the scars to prove it. It's the emotional ones which are the worst, or should I say, were the worst.

It has all made me the person I am today, I am a better person from all that, and I have vowed that I will love my DC's unconditionally, no matter what. I will not have them go through the system.

Inneedofabrandy, people DO care, especially those who have gone through similar too.

rufus5 Sun 28-Oct-12 21:43:20

I found it fascinating reading your post. My parents fostered for years and we had about 30 foster children living in our house throughout my teenage years (not all at the same time obviously!!) Some of them stayed with us for years (in fact, one is still with us, 20 years later) whereas others were only placed with us for a short time.

Each foster child was different, with different needs, backgrounds, issues etc. I hope our family made a difference for them and helped them at a time when life was really tough. I learned a lot from my foster brothers and sisters, and I know they have influenced me in how I look at the world and the direction I have taken with my work etc, and we had a lot of fun with many of them.

It's so interesting reading from your point of view what the experience was like for them. We tried to make them feel at home, part of our family, and welcome in our home. We were more successful with some than with others, but I hope they all felt loved.

I admire anyone who has managed to lift themselves from difficult family circumstances that surround the need for foster care to create and maintain a successful and stable family environment for their own children. Well done OP on getting yourself sorted, and use your experiences from your youth to help you bring your beautiful children up in the sort of family you would have loved to grow up in.

Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 21:47:56

I can relate to all of your post knickers, just wondered do you feel then and now you can't take physical contact from anybody apart from kids and partner or is that just me? I hate hugging friends, cheek kissing even standing or sitting to close to people. I do wonder if it's because I'm not and never have been used to friendly contact.

Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 21:50:27

Thankyou rufus. I always wondered how we would come across to you, and with me and my dc they know they are loved. It actually amazes me how much self confidence they have.

KnickersOnOnesHead Sun 28-Oct-12 21:59:59

I all honesty I'm not around people often enough to have given it much thought! I do give friends hugs when they need them so I guess not.

amillionyears Sun 28-Oct-12 22:11:39

op and knickers sad
I understand some of what you are saying.
I was a volunteer mentor for young people in foster care,with little or no contact with birth families,for 6 years.
And my DH and I briefly fostered.
The wanting to be loved,the wanting to belong is very strong in foster children isnt it?
I think the black bin bag situation is not allowed anymore is it? And rightly so.
Also,fwiw, because I was a volunteer and therefore not paid,foster children enjoyed that we were not paid because it meant we were there because we wanted to be,whereas they saw some foster carers as doing it for the money.
Which a few of them were.

You two are an inspiration to others,for how well you have some through it all.
Best wishes to you both.

KnickersOnOnesHead Sun 28-Oct-12 22:14:42

I do still find criticism so hard to take though, even now. Do you get that Inneed? Or very upset over the slightest things at times.

KnickersOnOnesHead Sun 28-Oct-12 22:16:26

I didn't know that the bin bags were not allowed anymore, that was, in my eyes, like my life was just seen as rubbish iyswim.

And I agree with you amillion, someone volunteering was more enjoyed for that exact reason!

amillionyears Sun 28-Oct-12 22:20:23

Bin bags,at least in our area were banned approx 8? years ago.
For exactly the reason you have mentioned.
I think there was a survey done somewhere,where they asked children who were fostered,their opinions on things,and that one came near the top of the list for many children.

parsnipcake Sun 28-Oct-12 22:33:08

As a foster carer reading this I feel so sad for you. I have a 16 year old with me at the moment who probably could have written much the same, yet I don't want to be a bitch, I just don't know how to connect with her, and if I set boundaries she explodes. It's so hard to pitch things right, especially for teens, who even in 'normal' families often feel isolated and on a different wavelength. Food is such a hard issue. I sometimes give up, but the sometimes really try to make everyone have a spoon of nutritious food, but it causes so much friction it's counterproductive. I can't believe you were llocked out though - all my children have keys to come and go, and I keep in touch, wait up and care about where they are. Reading your posts has made me think I need to work much harder to connect with my 16 year old though.

Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 22:35:03

I had a mentor, she was ok we went to the cinema once a fortnight but I never felt comfortable to talk deep with her, I just used to ask her questions so she didn't ask me stuff.

Bin bags were fucking horrible. It was 8 to 10 years ago for me so pleased they're not allowed now. It was the first act of degradation upon getting moved on, and turning up at a strangers house.

I can't take criticism haven't ever put it down to that. I do have a thing about hoarding, I need to have cupboards, fridge and freezer full. I need to have loads of shampoos and shower gels and housy stuff like bedding towels and vases.

agent sorry I never replied, I have always thought about fostering teenagers or mother and baby places, I only have a 2 bed flat will get a 3 bed house when dc are older, (10) so I don't have a spare bedroom. When dc are grown up and moved out I will look into more seriously.

bonnieslilsister Sun 28-Oct-12 22:37:52

Hi Inneedof and Knickers I was so sad to read your posts. I am a foster carer and wish you could have had a good experience for the whole of your time in fc.

What I wanted to ask was I loved no one cared whether I came home or not, yes they would ring the police but no one was bothered. What would have happened if someone did care a lot? Would it have made a difference and made you feel good or would it have been too uncomfortable for you? Can you say how us foster carers can make a difference to the lives of young people we have living with us?

I was so sorry to hear you both felt unwanted. I am not surprised when I hear what was going on for you. You deserved to be fostered by people who showed you they cared and wanted the best for you and truly meant it.

I am so glad you both have your own family now and are not focussing on that horrible period in your lives well apart from on this thread anyway smile

KnickersOnOnesHead Sun 28-Oct-12 22:39:16

Homely things!!

I get the shower gels and shampoos etc too!! That's because we had to do with what we were given and had to make it last in the home. Don't know if that was the same in foster.

Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 22:42:13

Parsnips I would give up fighting about food unless she has an eaten disorder. The best thing you can do is love her even when she's being a right cow and make her interact with you. Sit up to the table to eat, have movie nights, do things together.
I'm really suprised she's allowed a key! I remember staying out one night, coming home about 3am and throwing stones to wake FB up to let me in. FM burst into my bedroom demanding to know how I got in, well I couldn't grass up FB so lied and said I used my kirby grip on the lock. Well she went hysterical and called the police shreiking she was going to have me arrested for breaking and entering. The police came and told her no way could I have broke in with a kirby grip on a yale lock with the key still in and left. I still remember how gleefull she sounded that she was going to get me arrested.

Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 22:51:05

Bonnie I can't actually answer that. I wanted to be hugged and feel wanted don't know how I would of reacted to being hugged and loved. I probably would of acted worse and worse till you were all pushed away. No one ever stuck it out (even my real parents although I speak to my mum now) and went past me pushing them away. I don't think I would ever believe that you loved me even if thats what I wanted.

Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 22:55:39

Knickers I can't actually rememeber. I guess from the fact that it wasn't an issue in care. Before when I lived with my dad he wouldn't even buy me tampons let alone shower gel or shampoo (I used to go to my nans and shower) so I think it stems from that. The homely stuff because I need my home to feel like a home because it never felt like home in care.

Fosterangel Sun 28-Oct-12 22:59:01

Inneedofbrandy & KnickersOnOnesHead - If you ask most foster carers they will say that they come into fostering because they "want to make a difference" not because of the money. I am sorry that you found a few foster carers that were in it for the money. That is not a good reason to foster imo and I would hope that the training these days would weed these foster carers out.

It can also be hurtful to a foster carer to feel rejected by a foster child. We are only human but can see that it is the hurt and fear inside the child that drives any rejection. What a horrible experience having your possessions thrown out of the door. A good foster carer will appreciate that a child in care did not ask to be in that situation and heaven only knows would wish only for love and understanding in their lives. I am just sorry that when you needed a hug no one heard you. Your own children will never lack a hug by the sound of it so you have found your loving family.

As for the black plastic bags they (thankfully) were done away with in our LA just as we qualified 2 years ago. I cannot think of anything more distasteful than having your personal items put in a bag used for the dustbin. I would never consider using anything other than good holdalls and our foster children have several each.

Thank you both for your posts - I feel very humbled.

parsnipcake Sun 28-Oct-12 23:04:28

Thankyou so much for these posts. It's really helpful.

KnickersOnOnesHead Sun 28-Oct-12 23:08:56

I never saw anyone as being in it for the money. I did, and still do to some extent, think they my second FC'er only wanted the 'easy ones'. I was trouble, and hard work.

Bonnie, I do not think I have an answer either. I did get some affection from a couple of the careworkers, which was nice. But I cannot say if things would of been different or how I would of felt.
I think, looking back as an adult, people did care, or at least I'd like to think they did.

Inneedofbrandy Sun 28-Oct-12 23:15:58

Fosterangel This thread is not a foster carer bashing thread. It was meant as an insight and shared experience thread. I know there are loads of lovely decent people who foster but we having been there can articulate why we felt and acted as we did.

amillionyears Sun 28-Oct-12 23:17:40

One question i would like to ask,if I may,is what age do you think foster children should be to be set up to do independent living.
I think the age before was 16?, I cant quite remember.
But I do remember it being very young imo.

KnickersOnOnesHead Sun 28-Oct-12 23:19:57

I was in my own flat 2 months before I turned 17. In a hostel which was practically independent living at 16.

I think it would have to vary on the individual foster child imo.

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