Reflections from a Foster Carer: What is right and what is easy

A foster carer shares her heart and reflects on her role.

As part of the Fostering Network's Foster Care Fortnight we want to give a voice to foster carers, so we asked a good friend of Home for Good to share honestly about her role. We've decided to keep her anonymous to protect her identity and the children that she cares for, and to give her the freedom to speak openly. We hope that this is an encouragement for all foster carers, and will help us all to recognise and better understand all that fostering is.

Since becoming a foster carer there is a quote that I have carried with me. It may have been spoken by a fictional character in a fictional setting about a fictional situation, but for me it is so very real and it resonates deeply:

“The time will come when you will have to make the choicebetween what is right, and what is easy.”- Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

In the past I always viewed ‘choice’ in terms of good and bad, but I have come to realise that it is so much bigger than that. In fact, the choice between good and bad is a relatively easy one, but between what is right and what is easy, well that’s the tough one. That’s a choice that has the potential to be bone-rattling and life-changing.

For us, fostering was a deliberate decision taken with great care. It was a hard decision, obviously, but in its simplest terms it was a no-brainer: there are children who need love and we have love to offer them. It was the right decision, but it was and is not easy.

Being a foster carer is truly one of the biggest joys of my life. I count what I do as a huge and undeserved privilege. Having now cared for more than 20 children over the seven years we’ve been fostering, I can promise you that I love what I do – and I love every single one of my children.

But it’s tough. It’s tough for a hundred different reasons.

Choosing to love, to hang in there on the dark days is tough.Choosing positivity, calm and consistency in the face of anger and rejection is tough.Choosing to keep going when I am tired, out of ideas and completely at my wits’ end is tough.

But these are my choices.

Obviously, goodbyes are right up there as one of the hardest aspects of what I do.

I remember our first goodbye. Two amazing young men who had blessed, enriched and made our lives for more than two years. People always said 'it’s different with your own’, but I can tell you it isn’t. My love for those boys was no different than my love for my birth child. My pride, joy, excitement, longing, and delight was (and is) the same. Yet I said goodbye. It wasn’t easy – but it was right.

People have also said ‘it gets easier’. It really doesn’t. The only difference from that first goodbye to all the ones I’ve made since is that now I know how much it will hurt. I know what it is like to smile and be positive, to rejoice at your children’s future while feeling like you have been cut to the core. I know the pain of a goodbye, and trust me that does not make it 'easier’. If it was easy, if I could wave off my children without a care, then it would be time to stop.

I cannot count how many times I have been asked how I could say goodbye to them. I have been asked in love by those sharing in our pain and asked in anger by those wrapped in their own grief. I have been asked out of nosiness, concern, interest and professionalism but my answer has always remained the same.

Because I love them.

I actually hate having to tell people that I’m a foster carer, because the response I get most often (whilst usually said out of ‘kindness’) is so painful:‘I couldn’t do that; I would love them too much.’

I know when people say those words they do not mean offence, in fact, they often mean it as a compliment – but it really isn’t. Every time those words are uttered my heart breaks a little.

I hate the misconception that this comes easily. That I can 'control’ my love so goodbyes are manageable. I don’t. The love I have for my children is raw and wild, it is fierce and unpredictable, it is deep and significant. Each one of them has scarred my heart indelibly.

So here is my secret answer, whispered from my heart to yours: I don’t think I can do this either. But I choose. I choose to live this life, to love my children despite my weakness, despite the pain and the heartache. I choose to do what is right. I love them too much as well.

My children deserve to be loved with an unstoppable tornado. My children deserve to be cherished beyond measure. My children deserve to be longed after and deeply missed. If it was ever 'easier’, if I did not love 'too much’ – then, frankly, I would have no right to do this. I would have no right to call myself a foster carer.

As a mother I want the best for my children, irrespective of what it costs me. If the best for my children means I will no longer see them every day, then so be it. If the best for my children means I never see them again then, gulp in my throat, I say do it.

What is right is not always what is easy but I choose it regardless. I choose to love – deeply, selflessly and wholeheartedly. I will love with a love that costs me, a love that is not easy, but is, I hope, right.




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