Who can foster? ‘Only special people foster. Are we special’?’

Instant Family is both hilarious and hard hitting. For us it felt like great entertainment but also a fly on the wall documentary.

If you haven’t seen Instant Family on Netflix, I’d recommend it.

It’s based on true events, has great actors, a great script and a great storyline.

In short, a couple decide to foster and adopt. Set in the USA, we didn’t recognise everything as being in our experience, but a lot rung true.

There are loads of kids in care

There are not enough adopters and foster carers

The process to become a foster carer is long and intrusive, and a series of Social Workers will want to know all about you. 

You’ll get training but all the sessions in the world can’t fully prepare you for the arrival of a child, or children.

The three foster kids in the film will be recognisable to lots of Foster Carers and Adopters.

It’s quite handy to be able to fix stuff.

Mealtimes may be chaotic.

If you have a partner, your relationship will be tested.

A small kid, or possibly a large one, will probably tell you that they hate you.  At that moment, they will mean it, but it’s probably not actually aimed at you, but an absent adult.

You need to get used to being embarrassed in public and stared at.

You’ll probably cry a bit and laugh a lot.

Or vice versa.

Your wider family might think you’re out of your minds but will also be your greatest source of help and comfort.

Foster kids will almost certainly push your buttons.

Our foster kid’s Boobbuttons were not quite as symmetrical as this, but you get the idea

We once fostered a ‘Button Specialist’.

On one occasion, I discovered our house was covered in ‘buttons’.

They had been drawn on the walls on either side of all our eternal doors, and looked a little bit like ‘boobs’.

‘Gosh’ I said, loudly, ‘Look at these interesting things.  I wonder what they are and I wonder how they get here?.’

‘I know’, said our four year old foster kid proudly.

‘I did them’.

‘What are they?’ I asked.

I was curious, and knew there would be a reason. I knew getting angry at this graffiti would be pointless and probably lead to a meltdown.

‘They are Security Buttons’.

The little boy pressed the button on the wall in our hall, and pulled me into our lounge. He then pressed the button on the inside wall of the lounge, making a small ‘beep’ noise with his mouth.

‘Now we are safe. No one can get us.’ He said confidently.

Realising that the ‘boobs buttons’ created some sort of force field, I had a go too.

‘Wow, that’s a clever system’ I said.

‘You know though, in our house we have a big front door with two locks and a chain. And I am here too. You are safe here.’

The little kid just very slowly shook his head.

‘No, the bad people can come through doors. Nothing can stop them’.

There’s a lot of detective work in fostering. 

I concluded this little boy had experienced violence, intimidation and destruction.  His ‘boob button system’ was a strategy for feeling safe, and who doesn’t want to feel safe.

We didn’t particularly want ‘boob buttons’ all over our house, so I bought a real doorbell and hid it in the flowerbed outside our front door.

‘Look at this. It’s a special button that puts a force field over our whole house. When we come home, we can press this and we will be safe. Only you and I know about it’.

Security system doorbells are available from the internet and from shops. I don’t know how to wire doorbells, but I do know how to use my imagination.

That little boy pressed that doorbell safety button whenever he needed to feel safe.

A few days later I painted over the boob/buttons.

Eventually, he stopped using the doorbell safety button.

I wouldn’t say he felt safe, but he certainly was beginning to feel safer.

If you want to know more about fostering or adoption, contact me or your Council.

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Birth parent, Foster Carer, Adopter and Recruiter of Foster Carers for Liverpool City Council

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