“One of the first things I do when they arrive is to try to acknowledge the awkwardness of the situation. They might be thinking: ‘Here’s this strange lady, in this strange sitting room, with three strange cats.’ I am not a traditional family setting so I try to break the ice. If they’re small, we might take their toys out from their overnight bag and I’d play with them. They usually like it if I show them around the house and introduce them to the cats. My cats are fantastic, like therapy animals. I’ve discovered that if children have had traumatic experiences with adults, they sometimes find it easier to relate to an animal – they can become friends almost instantly. If it’s an older child, we’d have ‘The Talk’. I might say: ’As Mary said, we’re going to make sure you’re safe while your mam and dad figure things out. Please make yourself at home, feel free to look around and sit wherever you like. If you wish, I can show your room. You can unpack now or you can leave it for later.’ Ideally, I’d have them arrive around 4 pm, give them a snack, and ask them about their favourite foods. I would tell them that I have a small shopping list, so maybe we could walk together to the shop through the park and pick up some of their favourites as well. I always take the longer route through the park, which is usually the place where they relax a bit. By the time we get home, we’ve gotten to know each other a bit more. I’d let them settle in their room while I get dinner. It’s so important to give the child personal space and lots of little choices to let them feel that they have some control. I’m not a replacement family. Even a perfect family can’t replace a child’s own parents. I feel that there’s often a perception of Tusla that they take children from bad families and place them in good families. It’s never that simple. Foster carers are just human beings as well. Many of them have also had challenges in their lives, myself included. It’s not a lack or presence of adversity in your life that makes you a good foster carer, it’s your ability to overcome these and connect with the child.”
This post was highlighted by TUSLA.
‘It only takes one person to change the life of a child’, could that be YOU?
Tusla foster carers have positively transformed the lives of vulnerable children and young people, but Tusla needs many others to join them. Foster carers are invisible heroes in their communities and provide a huge service to their locality. Could you join their team of RAISING AMAZING foster carers? For more information about Tusla Fostering visit www.fostering.ie