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Feeling very guilty for not 'keeping' my foster children

(10 Posts)
Kitsandkids Tue 20-Jan-15 12:12:43

My husband and I have had 2 foster children in our care for several months. Things are now progressing with regard to getting a care order etc and they are likely to move on to long term foster care soon.

They are our first placement. We made the decision before going in for fostering that we would be short term foster carers; at least for now. I have known all along that these children wouldn't stay with us.

It would be very easy to keep them; they are lovely, have no major behavioural issues, have really settled with us etc. But we have a small house, they share a room as it is and if we were to keep them that would be it; they would be our children until 18 at the youngest, and by that time we would be mid forties and I don't know if I would want to start again with other children then. I feel that we have done very well getting these children settled and over some issues, and I think we could, and should, do that for more children. We are only just starting as foster carers and, as much as I love these children and want to stay in touch with them, I don't feel ready for us to settle on raising just these two children for the next several years. Plus, as I said, they share a room, we have no garden, we're not near the best primary schools - so I think it might be better for them to grow up somewhere else.

But, I feel so guilty! Plus, everyone I tell that the children are likely to be moving on soon says, 'can't you be long term foster carers for them?' and I have to explain that, while we would be allowed, we have decided not to do that. And I feel like such a bitch! My own mother said the other day, 'I don't know how you can give them up!'

Has anybody else had any experience of moving children on and having to justify it to everyone around them?

scarlet5tyger Tue 20-Jan-15 13:12:24

Kitsandkids your post echoes exactly where I'm at at the moment (apart from the no behavioural issues! We have those by the bucketful here!) I don't feel I need to justify it to anyone though, it's hard enough doing that to myself.

I'm different from you in that this is far from my first placement. I could easily have kept all the children who I've moved on. The fact that I didn't means that they now (mostly) have settled lives elsewhere and I've been freed up to help other children.

Each set of children you move on will leave you with more experience, which in turn will help you help more children.

There are lots of foster carers who struggle being short term - it's extremely difficult to let go. I think you should be very proud of being one of them.

Kitsandkids Tue 20-Jan-15 13:49:20

Thanks scarlet. I think because it's our first time that's why people have the expectation that we will keep the children. Once they have seen the children leave and new ones arrive I think they are less likely to ask next time if we're keeping them.

My ideal scenario would be for people in my family to say, 'we'll be long term carers' for them as then they could stay in the family and I could see them grow up. But I know that's just a pipe dream.

Now that it is all coming to a head I'm kind of hoping it will be quick so I can get them settled with a new family and get my grieving over with rather than have months of thinking about how I'll miss them when they go!

LaurieFairyCake Tue 20-Jan-15 13:53:56

Have you considered moving to a larger house with better schools nearby if you wanted to keep them long term?

I don't know what area you're in but here in Hertfordshire it would be £2600 a month payment which I'm guessing would easily cover the increased rent?

We went from short to long to keep a child (we still have short term too) and both are good smile

FannyFanakapan Tue 20-Jan-15 14:16:22

i recently moved my first pplacement on after over a year...major behavioural issues, but by the end, I loved them, and it was heartbreaking to let them go - actually, bittersweet, because of where they went from here. We also had the judgement "oh how can you bear to let them go?" (yep, I'm clearly cold hearted) often followed by "Oh I couldnt do what you do because I couldn't say goodbye". or an incredulous "Oh, couldn't you keep him with you?" (no actually, thats not what we signed up for).

In our case, we still have kids at home, and the behavioural issues over the last year have placed a lot of strain on the family. So their leaving involved some mixed feelings from some of my family.

For me, the grief is pretty intense, and I spend a lot of time worrying about how they are doing and sitting on my hands so I don't phone and harrass their new family!

I found it best to explain to others that the children had gone where they were very much wanted, that the new family were the very best option for them, and were terrific people, and that I would be able to keep in touch with the kids. That seems to satisfy most people.

ChippingInLatteLover Tue 20-Jan-15 14:35:19

I guess most people just don't understand why you would choose to let these children go, then get others. I can understand if it's causing problems with existing children, but then I wouldn't get 'new' foster children.

It sounds a bit egotistical that you have 'sorted these children out' and now want to 'pass them on' and 'sort out' some other children. As if long term foster careers wouldn't or couldn't do that themselves.

Was it a situation where they might have gone home again, or were they always going to be in long term foster care. If children are going to be in care fir the rest if their childhood, I think they should go directly to oeople who want to have them long term.

Fanny. I have said that to foster careers (I couldn't do it etc). It is a 'judgement', but certainly not one that finds them or you lacking. It's not that I find you heartless at all, quite the opposite. I admire your ability to put their needs before your own and help them, then hand them over. It takes more strength to do that, than I have.

Kitsandkids Tue 20-Jan-15 14:54:50

Because that's what I 'signed up' for Chipping. My husband and I put ourselves forward as short term foster carers when we first applied to be carers. I always understood that the children were not going to be 'ours to keep.'

In most cases, as far as I understand It, it is not a clear case of children coming into care permanently. Usually parents have a chance to show that they can care for the children if given another opportunity. Certainly in this case there have been parent assessments etc and it is not totally decided - the judge could rule in favour of the parents and they could go back into their care.

I didn't mean to sound egotistical so I apologise if I come across that way in my posts.

FannyFanakapan Tue 20-Jan-15 17:46:53

Chipping, short term carers are usually the people that take the children first, straight out of their neglectful/chaotic homes, and then keep them until the courts decide what will happen to them. That process can take ages. There is no time to match the child with the perfect family, we were asked at 10am and the children arrived on our doorstep at 2pm.

The court case itself can take ages - In our case, 8 months to the main case, where parents were deemed unsuitable, then a further 4 months to determine the care plan for the children, as at the 11th hour, a family member stepped up and had to be assessed. Then if an adoption is planned, the matching process between adopters and children has to happen - that can take a long time also...then introductions and finally hand over.

Its not realistic to send a child to the people they are going to be with forever - The children and their needs are unknown at the point they arrive in short term care. Our aim is to make them feel safe, get them into a routine, get their health sorted out, document the behaviours, try strategies to modify the worst of the behaviour so that the permanent family, whether kin or adoptive, know the child they are getting, and know what to expect.

NovemberRose Wed 21-Jan-15 21:34:36

If you're happy with your decision you don't need to justify it to others! I think some of our friends and family don't get why we're not applying to adopt our current foster child now that the placement order has been granted. In fact one or two people reacted to the news that he wasn't returning to Mum with "Oh so you get to keep him then?" as if that was always the plan (it wasn't) There are plenty of people outside of fostering who don't really understand the difference between fostering and adoption let alone between different types of fostering.

Letting go is really hard - have done it three times so far. But focus on what is right for you, for your partner and also for the children. You've given them something really special by being their foster carers for these months and hopefully that will make it easier for them to move into their new placement and build new attachments with their new family. If you're lucky they may stay in touch. We still are in touch with two of our former foster children.
Best wishes!

Winterskies Wed 21-Jan-15 22:14:38

We have always been short term carers. Have been fostering for many years and had a large number of children over that time. I've never wanted to keep any of them long term. They have mostly come as emergency placements, and some have had extremely difficult behaviours. Some go onto long term placements, one has gone to a secure unit, others have gone home. It's a piece of work that we do with each child and to be honest can be extremely intense. Once the children have moved on DH and I can regroup and prepare for the next one. We have never had any problems getting placements (agency), and have been happy to take challenging children short term. Some of the children are still in touch years later, which is nice. I think NovemberRose is spot on about people not understanding why we don't want to adopt these children, but if we had done, we wouldn't have been able to foster so many.

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