'You need a superhero in every family'…the insightful words of a five-year-old-boy, telling us how to make foster care the very best it can be.
And now, during Foster Care Fortnight 2018, I want to thank those many superheroes, from across Scotland, who on any given day, are looking after more than 5,000 of Scotland’s children. Children whose mums or dads, no matter how much they may love them, are not able to look after them. Foster carers are those superheroes and your genuine search, in the interest of providing the best possible care, has taught me more than anything else.
You open your hearts and your homes to babies, to toddlers, to pre-schoolers, to children in primary school and secondary school, and to young people beginning to navigate their way into adulthood. You open your hearts and your homes to children who hope beyond hope that they will return to their own mum or dad. You open your heart and your homes to children who have no-one, with no plan in place of how long they will stay or where they will go. With warmth and a smile, you welcome children who arrive with five minutes' notice, children you have never met, at any time of day or night and others at the end of a long planned journey. You provide that safe port in a stormy sea. Some children stay briefly and others forever. You can’t undo a child’s pain but you strive to be part of the healing.
You see strengths and a positive future for each and every one of these children. You give without expecting anything in return. Your patience is your strength, and your sense of humour and positive thinking is your life line.
You share laughter and hugs and fun and games. You give love even when some children can’t accept it. You record everything, from meals eaten to toys played with, from words spoken and behaviours displayed, to likes and fears and secrets told because you know, for confused children, you are the one to help them make sense of their lives. You see children grow and flourish and you know that small steps are a huge victory. You create opportunities for children and young people to hold their heads up high and be proud of who they are. You are the superheros to every child who comes to stay.
As we celebrate Foster Care Fortnight 2018, I want to personally thank all of Scotland’s foster carers for the incredible difference you and your children have made, and continue to make, to every child who enters your home. I want to also thank those children, who through no fault of their own, have come to live with you and enriched your lives in ways you probably never could have imagined. Together, Scotland is stronger and prouder because of you.
Director of The Fostering Network in Scotland