Caitlin is one of our Young Advocates in Scotland. Her family have been fostering for eleven years. Caitlin, age 19 and from Aberdeen, explains what it's like being part of a family that fosters during the coronavirus lockdown.
Fostering during lockdown - a daughter's perspective
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Four years ago I went to see Annie at His Majesty’s Theatre, a show I performed in when I was young and it made me want to start fostering children. Fast forward to today, I have the movie on in the house that we’ve been quarantined to for nine weeks.
Foster carers are the unsung heroes of this pandemic, every twenty minutes a child comes into care in need of a fostering family and just because the rest of the world is on pause, children in need of a loving family certainly cannot take a pause.
Living in a fostering family during lockdown isn’t easy. We are living with an almost three year old (C) who is used to a routine consisting of crèche, nursery, etc. All of which has been suddenly thrown up in the air. Sometimes it’s hard for us adults to remember that the children don’t understand what’s going on as well as we do. C only has the understanding that we cannot go outside because there are germs. He doesn’t understand that if he sees the neighbours’ dog on a walk then he can’t run over and pet him, he doesn’t understand that we have to be more careful with the mail that he would usually deliver to the kitchen table as soon as it fell through the mailbox.
We’re also living with a twelve year old (O) who has just started his first year of secondary school. For a child with learning difficulties, learning virtually has been a challenge. Not to mention feeling the injustice when he has to spend his time doing math equations rather than battling monsters or whatever they do on Fortnite.
We’re all missing our families. Contact (in a physical sense) has obviously been stopped, meaning loads of kids are missing out on seeing their parents, even if it’s something they’d usually do every week or so. We’re missing a part of our family, our regular respite child who we were so excited as we had just told him he would finally be coming to Florida with us this summer and he was so excited, but now we haven’t seen him in 12 weeks and we won’t be able to finally give him this amazing holiday this year which he deserves so much.
I can’t explain how glad I am that we have had relatively nice weather over lockdown for C’s sake if nothing else, he loves to be outdoors and our garden is luckily somewhere that we can remain isolated.
It’s been a creative challenge, thinking of new and engaging games and activities to keep a two year old and twelve year old interested. We’ve baked, drawn, made countless things out of play-doh, made a cardboard boat, a cardboard robot, had a back garden easter egg hunt, you name it; we’ve probably done it.
Everyone’s routine has been knocked. Plans have been ruined. C was supposed to be transitioning to his new home soon, but this is now on a very uncertain timeline. O had his first secondary school trip to look forward to, which has been cancelled. I had my dream job at Walt Disney World for the summer which has been cancelled. We all had a family holiday to visit Orlando which has been cancelled. We know that these things aren’t happening for the sake of our safety, but we are still hurt, disappointed and confused.
Juggling taking care of a two year old, home-schooling, activities, cooking, cleaning and general life has been a hard task, but it’s one that I have been very glad to help my mum out with everyday. Sometimes I can’t be bothered, I’d rather laze in my bed and binge a Netflix series, but it’s not so easy when you’re living in a busy household. We’re exhausted, toddlers are tiring during normal times but being together in the home 24/7 is admittedly a lot, but I can say for sure they keep us busy. People living with young kids probably don’t know what feeling bored during quarantine is, neither me or my mum do!
One thing we are so glad of is that this time has really given us the gift of precious family memories. With C in particular, after three years with the little man it will be hard to see him go but having these memories is something we will treasure forever. Considering both the boys can struggle with change, they have handled the situation very well and adapted to what has been thrown at them, we all have. It’s made us so grateful for our little family.
A Foster Care Fortnight message from our director in Scotland
A message from our director in Wales