Fostering case studies - looked after child blog

Chelsea*, 15, who along with her sister, aged 13, has lived with her foster parents for five years, shares her story

Being in care is an amazing experience for both the child and the foster carer.  But what is it like to start with?

Imagine your car breaking down and you have now here to go, but a stranger invites you into their home, you try to avoid it by calling the care emergency number but you're told they can't help you until the morning.  You have no other option but to accept the stranger's request, you're so far from home and you're loved ones, you're scared.

This is similar to being in care, you're welcomed into a strangers home, you're frightened and your family is miles away.  But eventually it starts to feel safe, it starts to feel like home, but 10 times better.

Being in foster care is no different than not being in care, it's also not as bad as people make it sound.  Being in foster care is so special as you choose to be together, you choose to be a family.  For the foster carer its life changing, as you are giving a child a fresh start at life.

When people hear the word foster care they assume it means 'kids who have no family' but this is wrong, it means so much more.  The word care its self means:

CHERISHED
ACCEPTED
RESPECTED
ENCOURAGED

We are foster kids and this is our story:

In the beginning, life was like one big scary roller coaster.  The transfer of going into care was like being torn away from family.  We didn't know what was happening or why it was happening.

We were at school rehearsing for a Christmas school play when we were told we wouldn't be going home tonight, instead we were going to stay with a woman called Jane who would look after us.

Jane told us she was a foster carer and that she'd be taking care of us for the time being as out birth parents were unfit to have children.  Life changed drastically, we moved schools twice and began to have regular meetings with Kate, who was our social worker at the time.  Kate told us we would soon be having new guardians and the placement with Jenny was only temporary but we would still be allowed contact with our birth parents and two brothers.  Having contact was one of the hardest things about being in care because at the end you always had to say goodbye.

Sometimes care can make you feel a bit resentful, it suddenly becomes full of people telling you what to do and it can sometimes make you feel as though they are taking over your life.  The first thought you get when being moved into care is 'what did I do wrong' or 'this is all my fault' but let me tell you something, thousands of children get moved into care each year and it's never their fault.  Sometimes parents become unstable to look after their children.  A child can also be taken into care if they are suffering or at serious risk of significant harm.  Children who get sent into care don't always understand that it is to keep them safe.

A lovely couple had been approved to the foster care system, they were delighted to start a family of their own.  Kate told us we would have new parents for a permanent placing, they were called Alan and Liz, they were so excited to have us join their family.  Our short term carer Jane helped us get ready to start a new adventure, this time she explained that there was no need to be frightened and everything was going to be just fine.

Leaving Jane was emotional, there were tears, runny noses and a whole load of sappy goodbyes, but you don't want to hear about that, it was a messy situation.

Most of the time as well as the child being frightened a new foster carer can also be frightened.  But remember you have the power to change a child's life, by sticking with them along the way even when you have your doubts.

That's our adventure, now its time to begin yours.

*All names have been changed