Fostering – is it worth it?

We’ve got a Washing Machine and a separate Dryer.

That’s how posh we are.

They are in what we call The Utility Room.

In The Utility Room, there’s a cupboard full of cleaning stuff, a fairly redundant ironing board, a sink, and a toilet.

Once, one of our Foster Kids went to the toilet.

That’s not that unusual.

What was a bit unusual was he decided  to remove the detergent dispenser from the washing machine and smear his pooh in it, around it and sort of all over it.

Smearing is not that uncommon.

You can learn about it on Foster Carer courses.

However, cleaning smearing is generally not covered, and you’re left to work it out yourself, using whatever comes to hand.

In this case, my hand was the most suitable tool.

The typical Washing Machine has many nooks and crannies.

Only human fingers can really get pooh out of a Washing Machine’s nooks and crannies.

I’d say the excrement was still warm, just below body temperature.

My other blogs will give you an insight into some of the other highs and lows we’ve experienced over the last ten years or so.

On some days, I absolutely cannot believe we have wilfully and deliberately chosen to do this.

The emotional rollercoaster can be both terrifying and exhausting.

I don’t go on Rollercoasters. I get all the adrenaline I need from doing the school run.

There can be aggression, violence, destruction and allegations.

You will be tested.

On other days, I cannot believe the difference we have made to the lives of the children we have fostered.

I once read an article written by a Palliative Nurse.

On retirement she reflected on what she’d learnt from the dying people she’d cared for.

She thought younger people tended to do things they perhaps regretted.

They got drunk, and filmed themselves kissing road cones.

They hurt people needlessly or made career or relationship mistakes.

However on people’s death beds, the Nurse noticed that people regretted the things that they hadn’t done.

They regretted the decisions they had avoided making and the risks they hadn’t taken.

I was walking to the park with a kid. He’d been in and out of care for most of his life. Our home was the most permanent he’d ever known. Out of apparently nowhere, he began to talk.

“Phil, when I am old and you are very very old, what will my kids call you?”

This was a very unusual direction of conversation.

This kid usually lived absolutely in the moment and rarely thought of anything other than ‘now’.

I considered for a moment and we began to discuss possibilities.

“Uncle Phil, Mr Phil, Old Phil….Grandad…”.

We didn’t reach a conclusion but both agreed we would raise the issue again, at a later date.

Lots of little differences add up to make very very big ones, sometimes.

Every day that child is with us he is safe.

This is an improvement on the early years of his life.

By some criteria, he is even beginning to thrive.

He can make toasted sandwiches, put on his own shoes, and find his way to Home and Bargain when he wants to buy sweets and noodles.

Without my family’s decision to foster that might never have happened.

It seems quite likely that we will always be in each other’s lives.

There’s no end to what we might teach each other.

If things follow the natural order, one day, he might go to my funeral.

He might bring his family and his kids.

Perhaps there are people not yet born, who will benefit from our decision to be a family to a kid who didn’t have one.

Heather Smalls once asked me ‘What have you done today, to make you feel proud?’ ‘I’ve looked after a kid’ was my best answer.







Published by


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

8 thoughts on “Fostering – is it worth it?”

  1. People think we’re mad to have reached an age when we could be embracing a new child free sort of independence, but instead we have are back to chaotic school runs and footie training and dance and being a taxi. Your blogs are fab Phil because without any fuss they capture the juxtapositions of the experience of fostering. It has definitely been the hardest and most challenging thing we have ever embarked upon, but at the same time it has been without a shadow of a doubt the most amazing thing we have ever done. In spite of the challenges, fostering has enriched our lives, the lives of our birth kids, extended family and friendship circle and we have benefitted as much, if not more than the children we have cared for!

    Good work Phil – waiting patiently for that book!


  2. Love this blog, it is so honest , but also captures the privilege that being a foster carer brings to our lives.


  3. Glad to have found this amazing blog. And what fourhillswid said: the effect it has on your own family and those around you is a huge benefit to us of fostering. Not to mention changing the world, one child at a time.


  4. Sometimes people get frustrated when they don’t see an instant response to the care they are giving , but we should always hold onto the fact we have given a young person a positive experience and no one can take that away from them.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s