Scotland can be proud of its fostering community

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Sara Lurie, director of The Fostering Network in Scotland, writes:

Scotland has many things to be proud of but the fostering community must certainly be very high up on that list!

Thank you

There are more than 5,500 children across Scotland who are waking up today in a fostering family. As we celebrate Foster Care Fortnight, 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.

And, of course, I want to thank the fostering service staff and everyone else in teams around children for their unwavering commitment to helping to make Scotland the best place in the world for children to grow up.

Earlier this week, as part of our Foster Care Fortnight celebrations, I was on the radio and I was asked, ‘what do foster carers do?’ And I thought, where and how do I possibly begin? Is this a full-length programme? Will they ever manage to fit in everything a foster carer actually does?

You open your hearts and your homes

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 through college and courses and job applications. 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. You open your hearts and your homes to children who arrive with five minutes' notice and others at the end of a long planned journey. You open your hearts and your homes, 24 hours a day, to children you haven’t even met. 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. You share your time and give freely of yourself, to each child in your home, whether it be your own birth child or the one who has just come through your door. 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 to hold their heads up high and be proud of who they are. You grieve each and every time a child leaves your home.

You enrich one another's lives

These are only a few of the endless things that you, as a foster carer, do each and every day. It is your normal way of life. And a life that you should be so rightfully proud of. To you, and your children and to each child who has and will live with you, I want to say a huge thank you. For you have  touched the hearts of many, enriching one another’s lives to the fullest.

As one foster carer recently shared on Facebook, 'Our youngest really makes me smile. I’ve started to give him more responsibility letting him go out on his own for short periods with pals… he just said to me, “Hey, you are giving me so many opportunities, you should be really proud of yourself !"' And so you should be, each and every one of you.