Men can foster

These men drink beer and like football. They also have both taught French, part-time.

“Phil, you come across as very male.”

These were the words of our Social Worker, when she summed me up in our Assessment Form to become Foster Carers.

I wasn’t sure what she meant but as my wife nodded, sagely, I decided to adopt a similar facial expression and nod along too.

I wasn’t sure whether she meant it in a positive or a negative light.

Quite frankly, I didn’t care.

I was just glad our assessment was positive, and we were on our way to becoming Foster Carers.

Back when I was a kid, gender roles were simple, rigid and fairly restrictive.

I’m not exactly sure when gender equality became enshrined in law, but the men and women in my early life all, more or less, fulfilled similar functions.

As a baby, your Mum looked after you, often helped by her Mum, her sisters, and a whole load of other women that you called ‘Auntie’, even though they weren’t.

The teachers at Primary School were mostly women, except for the Headmaster.

Dinner Ladies were women and the caretaker was an old man, usually in dungarees, who smelled of pipe tobacco.

At Secondary School, the teachers were a mix, but there was a pattern.

Science and Maths were usually men.

French teachers were women, and often worked part time.

On the TV, people in charge were mostly men, except for Margaret Thatcher.

“The feminists hate me…and I don’t blame them, for I hate Feminism”. Mrs T was never one for sitting on the fence.

Dads knew about cars, football and barbecues.

Men read the paper and drank pints.

Women did the cooking and drank Gin and Tonic.

Does TV imitate life, or does life imitate TV? Margot and Jerry were from Surbiton, but could have been from anywhere in the Home Counties.

To generalise outrageously, if a job involved caring for people, and wasn’t terribly well paid or well regarded, invariably it was done by a woman.

I think, though we live in more enlightened times, much of this is still true today.

There is still an assumption that a nurse will be female, a mechanic will be male, and a French teacher will be a woman.

Here is Shirley Valentine cooking fried eggs. That means it must be Tuesday.

There is an assumption that a woman will take Maternity Leave.

The clue is in the title.

Shared Parental Leave is catching on, but only slowly.

Society is changing, but The Patriarchy is far from dead.

I’ve done some research and I’ve done some observing and I would say that Foster Carers are more likely to be female than male.

If a married or cohabiting couple foster, it is the woman who is more likely to be the ‘main carer’.

If a single person fosters, they are more likely to be female than male.

There are exceptions, but these are exceptions.

If you are a man who fosters, you may repeatedly find yourself in the minority.

For the first time in your life, you may be ‘the diversity’.

Men, I really wouldn’t let it bother you.

The kids we’ve fostered have not been at all interested in how we have identified ourselves.

They’ve just wanted to feel safe, feel warm, and feel loved.

They’ve not cared that I drink beer and my wife prefers gin.

They have not cared that I’m both a Foster Carer and a French Teacher (part time).

Their only care has been that we have cared for them.

Gender, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, background and ethnicity are all secondary to  character.

We need Foster Carers who reflect every single section of our society.

This is my family with a Foster Kid in the park. What a lovely lovely day.

Collect the Golden Moments

Collect the golden moments, guard them as the precious things they are, write them down, speak of them often, and remember them. Hold them tightly.

I react very badly to inspirational quotes. They make me want to commit grievous acts.

This is not quite a biblical quote, nor is it an inspirational poster or piece of artwork from any modern day equivalent of Athena.

It’s a bit of advice that I got from a friend.

Remembering the golden moments is an act of self-care and survival.

It’s also fun.

Some people count their children’s achievements in terms of GCSES, A Levels, goals scored, ballet moves mastered, and whether they’ve had offers from both Oxford and Cambridge.

We use a different system.

Our system is called ‘Did anything good happen?’.

‘Anything at all?’

The whole day doesn’t have to be better.

In fact, you may have lurched from unmitigated disaster to unmitigated disaster.

But if one tiny tiny positive happened, grab it, and focus on it.

The positive may even be ‘the absence of complete and utter chaos’.

Our house has a porch. We used to use it for prams, buggies, scooters and wellington boots. It is now used almost exclusively to store Amazon parcels.

For example, on this very day, in fact, just now, The Little Man answered the door to The Amazon Delivery Person.

He took the package and said thank you.

He didn’t hold eye contact, or shake hands or become life long friends, but this was undeniably an interaction with a ‘stranger’.

And perhaps of even greater significance, he told me and my wife, individually, with undoubted pride in his voice, and a small grin on his face, what he’d just done.

What a great moment.

He’s been with us exactly 8 years.

He’s 14.

We went to the same sweet shop every Friday after school. It only took about 5 years for The Little Man to feel confident enough to buy his own crisps ‘from the lady‘. He chose Pickled Onion Space Raiders. We were so proud.

First day at a new school for a fostered or adopted kid

We took our ‘first day at school photo’ on day 23. Quite frankly, we didn’t need any extra fuss and emotion.

“I’m not going”.

My wife and I were not surprised that The Little Man didn’t want to go to a new school.

Anything new, anything different, anything out of the ordinary would set his ‘Lizard Brain’ into overdrive.

We’d learnt his preferred response to ‘anything new’ if he was in public was ‘to freeze’ or ‘to flop’.

If a stranger spoke to him, for example in a shop, he’d simply stare until they went away.

It’s quite effective, even if it appears a bit rude.

If the stranger continued to probe, he’d put his hooded anorak over his head.

Anxiety and fear causes The Lizard Brain to go into action. The Lizard Brain keeps you alive when lions and stuff are attacking you.

If he was with us, in our home, he’d fight.

‘Fighting’ could involve biting, kicking, swearing and smashing stuff up.

‘Throwing things’ was pretty popular too.

He had never resorted to ‘flight’.

‘Flight’ would mean he’d be on his own and he was too scared for that.

My wife and I began to hatch a little plan about how we’d handle the first day of term at his new school.

We’d worry about the second day later. There was little point in getting ahead of ourselves!

The first part of the plan had been to casually introduce familiarity.

We’d taken him to his new school for an open day. We’d shown him the school website. We had engaged in as much of the school’s transition activities as possible.

His new school was a couple of miles away and we drove that way a few times over the summer. We didn’t say we were visiting his new school, rather the pub opposite. We popped in for coke and crisps. We played on the slide. We hoped that the area would appear less threatening. We hoped that we would make his ‘first day journey’ less terrifying.

If you’ve experienced massive amounts of trauma and fear, particularly at a young age, your amygdala will kick in very quickly, often when it’s not warranted.

We hardly mentioned school at all over the summer holiday.

We knew there’d be questions we couldn’t answer, and we knew that would add to the anxiety.

We bought school uniform and equipment via the internet.

We had decided that  his new school bag would in fact be his brother’s old school bag.

We’d negotiated with his school, that contrary to some regulations, he’d be packing a variety of fidget toys and favourite phone cases.

The Little Man knew this was happening but we made as little a deal out of it as possible.

We hid our own fears and anxieties.

We only discussed what we’d do in whispered tones when he was busy watching YouTube clips with his headphones on.

He had some trust in us.

He didn’t need to know that we didn’t know everything, although he probably had his suspicions.

On the ‘big day’, we divided the tasks.

We decided I’d be responsible for getting him ‘there’ on the first morning.

If that went successfully, I’d be responsible for bringing him ‘back’.

We knew he’d respond best if only one person was in charge.

We knew we’d respond best if only one of us had to make the decisions.

Everyone else’s task was to keep out of the way.

We kept everything as low key and as unemotional as possible.

As our birth kids and my wife left the house on that September morning, we avoided any overt show of emotion or goodbyes.

We did not take a ‘first day photo’ on the ‘first day’.

With just the two of us in the house, we got dressed, we ate breakfast, and we watched Paw Patrol.

“We are going now. You can sit in the front or in the back of the car. It’s your choice.”

I knew that giving him some autonomy may help calm him.

“I’m not going”.

His response was the one I’d dreaded but I didn’t let my face show it.

I got the car keys, opened the front door and turned the alarm on.

I left the house and got in the car.

My face was still impassive.

As the 30 second beep countdown urged us to leave the house, he appeared at the front door, walked to the car and got in beside me.

“Please be in charge of the radio”.

He chose the familiarity of Radio 2.

Astute readers will have noticed that whilst our house alarm was on, our front door was still open.

This was a risk I was willing to take.

The seven minute journey to school passed without incident.

I chose not to speak.

I let Chris Evans and Coldplay fill the silence.

On arrival, there was another minor stand off.

He didn’t want to get out of the car, so I just got out and walked away.

I was pretty sure he’d follow me and I was right.

As we reached his classroom door I handed him my phone.

“I will meet you here when school ends. You can give me my phone back then”.

A few hours later I met him at the appointed time and place.

He returned my phone with a nod.

When he wasn’t looking, I took the SIM card out of my ‘back up phone’ and slid it back into the phone that he’d been minding for me all day.

I’m not completely daft!

Sowing a cross onto a child’s jumper and your own jumper is a good way of giving them a visual connection to you, and a reminder that you are thinking of them







Going on holiday with foster kids and adopted kids

We were going on holiday.

The sun doesn’t always shine brightly and the sea isn’t necessarily blue. Get excited, but keep your expectations realistic!

The evidence was clear.

Sun cream, swimming goggles and phones chargers were being piled up on the kitchen table.

Flip flops, buckets and spades, and a snapped body board had made their annual migration from the shed to the hallway.

The Little Man had been to the phone shop four times, and was keen to go again.

We’d learnt that repeated demands to visit Dr Mobile, a 10 minute walk away, was a clear sign of stress.

Four trips, with another on the horizon, suggested we were peaking at ‘maximum anxiety’.

Whilst my wife and our birth kids made preparations for a week at a well known seaside caravan park, I patiently made the journey to look at phone cases again, and again, and again, and again.

The Little Man loved the seaside.

He loved the sea, and the slot machines, and the shows, and the battered sausages.

But he didn’t like change.

In the world of fostering and adoption, change of any type is known as a ‘transition’.

We’ve stayed in static caravans all over the UK and the continent. We have needed special permission to take foster kids abroad. One foster kid hated the extra scrutiny at the airport. He just wanted to be treated like everyone else.

Any transition, or change from the routine and ‘norm’, even to do something nice, can lead to deregulation and absolute chaos.

Adults are also likely to be somewhat on edge and this can be picked up by a kid and magnified.

I’m yet to meet a Foster Carer or Adopter who hasn’t thought that the whole ‘holiday experience’  is not worth the bother.

We firmly believe our kids deserve the same experiences as every other kid, and this means leaving where you live and visiting somewhere else.

We’ve been on holiday all over the UK, and when legally possible, taken foster kids to Spain and France.

We’ve learnt to do what works and swerve what doesn’t.

We explain roughly where we’re going and what we will be doing.

We avoid giving too many details, as this can be held as evidence against us if plans change.

The Little Man, like so many others who have experienced significant trauma, can rarely be described as ‘flexible’.

If we say we’re going to the beach, then that’s what he expects to do.

No mitigating factors still be accepted if the advertised plan changes.

We take familiar things with us.

France is known for its Haute Cuisine but we still pack several parks of noodles from Poundland.

We load iPads with favourite programmes.

We pack as many teddies, phone cases, and other familiar toys as are desired.

We walk a fine line between trying to broaden horizons and doing what works.

Caravan parks are generally very similar. The familiarity brings a sense of calm. We’ve found that booking  a similar caravan, whether in Yorkshire, Wales or Brittany makes everything that little bit easier.

We often go on holiday with friends who are also Foster Carers or Adopters.

It’s great to be with people who have the same expectations as we do.

It’s great to be with people whose eyes are full of sympathy rather than judgement, whilst you’re managing a meltdown in the queue at a Pay and Display Car Park.

Our expectations may be modest by some standards.

We eat out, but generally avoid your Michelin Star Restaurants, and anything else that may be referred to as ‘fine dining’.

We preferr ‘Eat all you can buffets’ or Burger King.

Buffets provide you with a legitimate reason to wander about and the service tends to be quicker.

At Burger King you also get a free hat.

I also think there’s a beauty in simplicity.

We are unlikely to go white water rafting or exploring the Serengeti anytime soon.

We will not be contributing to the wealth of The Casino owners in Vegas.

The Great Barrier Reef will have to cope without my family poking about it’s nether regions.

Contrary to what the Holiday Industry would have you believe, you don’t have to travel far or spend a lot of money to find beauty.

However, we have built a system of sea defences and sand castles that briefly defied the waves of The North Sea before being washed away.

We have spent a very pleasant hour looking for lost coins under the slot machines in Rhyl, and then a further hour reinvesting our hard found cash in the Penny Falls, providing a cost neutral activity.

A smart kid with small hands can easily make £5 finding coins under slot machines! They may also find chewing gum, hair bobbles and bits of fluff.

We have spent an entire afternoon exploring a solitary rock pool just south of Filey, armed only with a bucket, spade and a net sellotaped on to a piece of bamboo.

Our best find was a ‘hermit crab’.

I explained to the Little Man that such crabs have no shell of their own.

They have to find an empty shell.

They adapt and squish their body shape to fit inside.

Then, they are safe.

He looked at me and I looked at him and we had one of those golden moments.

Hermit crabs must occupy shelter produced by other organisms or risk being defenceless. That’s a bit like being a foster kid. Obvs!

He’s not one for metaphors, but we both knew what the other was thinking.







How many kids have you fostered?

I miss Granstand’s Viddy Printer. If a score was ridiculously improbable, the BBC would confirm by writing it out in full:- Crystal Palace 0 Brighton 9 (nine).

I often sense disappointment when I tell people we’ve fostered the grand total of 7 (seven) children.

Large numbers sound so much more impressive.

I’ve stopped giving the number of kids.

Instead I give the following data:-

4 days and nights

2 days and nights

4 hours

465 days and nights

6 days and nights

186 days and nights

2860 days and nights, plus how ever many days and nights it’s been since I wrote this blog.

There are lots of different types of fostering:-


Short Term (also known as Part Time)


Short Break

Long Term

Our Little Man is in the ‘More or Less Forever Category’.

The kid on the left came on a Short Term basis ‘to see how it goes’. Nearly 8 years later, he’s still here and not going anywhere, anytime soon.

Celebrate everything! Self Esteem needs to be built, brick by brick.

“He’s doing very well. He’s genial and has a great sense of humour”. I knew all those hours watching Porridge wouldn’t be wasted. The ‘genial Harry Grout’ only appeared in 3 episodes.

My own school reports were not always entirely positive.

Back in the 1970s, ‘praise’ was a rare commodity and the great British understatement reigned supreme.

“Not bad” was about as good as it ever got, although ‘not as annoying as your brother’ came a close second.

It was our Little Man’s Parent’s Evening.

Perhaps because he’s autistic, and definitely because he’s 14, the Little Man does not tell us much about what happens at school.

We know the names of some of his classmates and we know that ‘Sir’ is generally regarded as the source of all wisdom and knowledge.

We know he’s highly unlikely to do GCSES anytime soon, and we’re currently not saving up for him to go to University.*

More importantly for us, he goes to school willingly and fairly cheerfully.

We occasionally get some grumpiness and a smidgen of swearing in the morning, but it’s usually aimed at the unaccountable disappearance of his school shoes or his school bag, rather than us.

He’s neither at the top, nor at the bottom of his class in any particular subject or area.

In 1980, Kool and the Gang encouraged us to celebrate. We take their advice whenever we can.

He’s at his happiest doing Design and Technology or completing a project on an iPad.

His teachers don’t ignore what he can’t do easily.

He knows a little bit about the correct placement of apostrophes, and is aware that triangles, circles and squares all have an ‘area’.

Praising a traumatised kid is like chucking bricks into Loch Ness. It can look like absolutely nothing is happening for ages and ages, but eventually you’ll break the surface tension.

More importantly, his teachers find the things he’s good at.

They know the key to learning is building his self esteem.

They know he struggles with public praise, or in fact anything that brings him attention, but with a quiet word, a facial expression or an understated thumbs up, they tell him ‘well done’.

Self esteem is rarely, if ever, innate.

It must be built, brick by brick.

If a child has experienced trauma, and being removed from birth parents is trauma regardless of any other Adverse Childhood Experiences, self esteem is likely to be low or non-existent.

Naches: A Yiddish word meaning you’re happy and proud, especially of someone’s accomplishments.

Academic qualifications are useful, but believing yourself to be ‘valuable’ is vital if you are to successfully negotiate life.

Everyone is valuable, because they are.

*I think Looked after Children are exempt from University fees. I don’t think this is true for adopted kids.

Father’s Day: You don’t have to be related by blood…

When I was a kid, I thought my Dad played for QPR. He went off every Saturday afternoon, returning for tea and giving us a full match report. In fact, he was a local solicitor specialising in Conveyancing.

When we’re out and about our Little Man calls me Dad.

At home he calls me ‘Phil’.

When we went to France on holiday, he called me Philippe.

If we have croissants for breakfast on a Sunday, he reverts back to Philippe.

He thinks this is hilarious.

You don’t have to be a psychologist to work out his motivation.

He calls me by the name that brings him the least social attention, and the name with which he feels most comfortable.

I’m fine with all these names.

‘Phil, you’re the best Dad I’ve ever had. The others have been crap’. It’s a compliment but also belies a complicated mix of emotions. This kid’s spelling did improve.

This particular kid has had a variety of fathers, and father figures.

We have created a variety of terminology to differentiate between them.

We use variations of Dad, birth Dad, Foster Dad and first names.

We don’t tend to say ‘real Dad’ and never say ‘proper Dad’.

That just seems too disrespectful to too many people.

What’s more, we are all painfully aware that ‘You’re not my real Dad’ is the equivalent of the ‘Nuclear Option’ in our household.

“You can’t tell me what to do, you’re not my real Dad!” Vitriolic anger is camouflage for pain and hurt.

Occasionally, it’s a button that has been pressed.

I don’t know a Foster Dad or Adopter Dad who hasn’t had his authority, status and role challenged in this way.

Just like in a nuclear war, everyone loses when the button is pressed.

Pointing out that I’m not ‘Real Dad‘ is not just an attack on me, but also an act of self harm.

Pointing out that ‘Real Dad’ is absent is like picking away at a wound, that even in the most improved circumstances, may never fully heal.

There are many reasons why kids go into care.

Parents may have passed away or be ill.

Parents may have mental health issues.

Parents may deemed not sufficiently competent to look after children.

Parents may have issues with drugs and alcohol.

Parents may be  violent and malicious.

When your Dad has been deemed incapable of looking after you, or has absented himself, it’s very hard to be proud of him, or big him up in the playground.

Our Card Industry exists to make a profit. Increasingly, their products reflect the realties of our modern world.

A kid we fostered recently tracked me down on Instagram.

Now 19 and at University, he lived with us when he was 10.

I don’t think he’d ever had any relationship with his biological father.

Whilst with us, he and I played copious amounts of football, swing ball and table tennis.

We also watched a lot of sport.

I convinced him that Fernando Torres was not a bad person even if his best football days were behind him.

I taught him how to make a cheese and bean toastie.

I explained to him the necessity of accuracy when using the toilet.

A message from a former Foster Kid who tracked us down on Instagram. Yeah, I cried.

Perhaps most importantly, I showed him that you don’t have to be related by blood to share your home, your time and your love.

How ever you got your Dad, and whoever you’re fathering, have a great Father’s Day.

When did you leave home?

My Mum and Dad moved into ‘Number 59’ in 1975. They still live there. When my brother and I return, we revert to the immature squabbling morons we were as kids. He’s now a vicar.

I first tried to leave my family home when I was 18.

After travelling around the continent for four months, I returned.

I’d run out of money and clean socks.

This proved to be a familiar pattern over the next few years.

I left home again when I went to University aged 19.

Ten weeks later, I returned for Christmas, cash and the chance to recline on a reasonably comfortable sofa.

By 23, I was beginning to get Council Tax bills sent to my own address, and had signed on with a doctor who hadn’t known me as a schoolboy.

I was nearly independent and teetering on being a grown up.

But I still talk of ‘driving home for Christmas’ at the tender age of 51.

My first car was a Vauxhall Astra like this one. I bought it cheap off my brother. He’d bought it cheap off our Grandad. I don’t know where he got it from but he was registered blind for the last ten years of his life so it had done a low mileage.

Our daughter is 19.

We’re helping her buy her first flat and have spent the last few days introducing her to the wonders of IKEA flat pack and how to manage her own bins.

Her younger brothers, like hyenas around a wounded wilder-beast, have begun to eye up her bedroom.

She’s the oldest, so her bedroom is the biggest.

Everyone understands this inalienable law.

Of course her brothers are now claiming that she’s left and has thus surrendered all rights.

She’s not going down without a fight, and negotiations about her occupying the ‘box room and part of the loft’ are currently ongoing.

My wife wants this box room as an office so she can work from home.

Most of us eventually leave home, and set up a household of our own.

According to Google, the average age in the UK for an adult to fully leave home is 25.

I suspect for many of us, this is a gradual journey and may involve quite a lot of toing and froing.

I suspect many of us will be helped out with all sorts of practical, financial and emotional support.

Maybe our Mum and Dads put down a deposit or guaranteed the rent.

Maybe we were given a bit of furniture or had help with some decorating.

Even with the World Wide Web at our fingertips, many of us still defer to aged and sage relatives for sensible domestic advice about carpet purchase and ‘where the stop cock’ may be.

If you and your partner can successfully assemble a Flat Pack without an argument, the rest of your life will be a breeze.

If you’ve grown up in care, you may well not be able to recognise your own experience in this blog.

‘Foster kids don’t leave care, care leaves them’.

I don’t know who first said this, but it does seem to sum up the situation.

There are a couple of big assumption in Chris Rea’s seasonal hit.

If you’re a Foster Carer, you may be nodding whilst simultaneously shrugging.

For many Foster Carers, fostering is their passion but also their profession.

Caring for a child is how they earn their living. Their spare room is an asset that helps them keep the roof over the rest of the house.

Some Foster Carers simply cannot afford to support a young person for whom they get no remuneration, even if they want to.

Our Little Man is not just eyeing up his sister’s recently vacated bedroom.

He’s impressed that she now has her own flat where she can do what she wants, when she wants and with whom she wants.

‘Will this be my flat when I’m 19?’

It’s not an unreasonable question.

Around 10,000 young people in England age out of the care system every year on their 18th birthday.

Do you stay in touch with the foster kids after they’ve left you?

Football is a common language spoken the whole world over.

Fostering Chelsea fans will have clear memories of that great night in 2012, when London’s finest won the Champions League with a superb Didier Drogba penalty.

I was watching the game with my son and a 10 year old foster child.

He wasn’t English, but he did claim to be widely travelled.

He’d been to a variety of Eastern European countries, Norway, and Gulliver’s World of Adventures.

I tried to explain, that though very exciting, Gulliver’s World didn’t actually constitute a sovereign Nation State.

He begged to differ.

We decided not to fall out over such trivialities.

For various reasons, he left our home.

We had a goodbye tea at his preferred restaurant, a local Maccies.

As a goodbye gift, I gave him a Chelsea Fernando Torres shirt.

For a short while we kept in contact, and then, eventually, we heard no more.

This is not unusual.

Foster Carers have no right to be informed about what happens to the kids we look after.

They’re not ours.

Occasionally, events would trigger memories of this young boy; mentions of his home country in the news, passing the same Maccies, or mentions of Gulliver’s World.

Tonight, on May 29th, (2021) Chelsea won the Champions League for the second time.

My thoughts went back to that evening in 2012, and for just a brief moment I wondered where he was.

Somewhere in Eastern Europe, a 19 year old was thinking the same thing.

I know Social Media can be an absolute PITA, but our foster child, now a 19 year old, used Instagram to track us down.

His message was short, simple and beautiful

This is a screenshot of the message from George. He’s a grown up now and happy for me to use his real name. He’s a University student in Moldova.

I don’t know if other Carers have had similar messages.

We’ve never had anything quite like it.

We may never get anything like it again.

It’s great to know he’s alive and thriving.

When we foster, we only know our part of the story.

If you are someone who needs to know ‘what happens in the end’, you will have to watch football matches or Disney films.

Grief – it’s the price we pay.

“A life without struggle, is a life without colour”. You will grieve one way or another. You will grieve sooner or later.

We didn’t hug Him.

He still didn’t like physical affection, even though he’d learnt to trust us.

We knew this day was about Him.

We didn’t exactly know what He would be feeling but we knew He’d be struggling.

We all were.

I don’t know what you’re supposed to feel and how you’re supposed to react when you go and live with a new family.

We’d fostered this Little Kid for 15 months.

He’d arrived aged 3 years 7 months and was ‘toilet trained, a good sleeper, doesn’t say much’.

His adoption has been a few months in the paperwork and the planning. He’d had two weeks of introductions to His new family, and had already had a sleep over in His new home.

Today He was moving to their home, or rather to His home, for good.

We’d got on pretty well with his adoptive parents and we thought we’d probably be able to keep some contact with them.

This ball however, was entirely in their court, and we knew we may never see the Little Kid again.

It was a Tuesday.

Our front door closed and the Social Worker drove Him away.

We watched them disappear and burst into tears.

It was like a funeral and a birth all rolled into one.

I went to work.

Our birth kids went to school.

My wife went to work.

I guess there was a spare seat in his Reception Class where He’d been sitting for a term.

‘Say hello, wave goodbye’. My favourite Soft Cell song is their cover version of Tainted Love.

I remember the next few days were ones of relief.

The transition to adoption had gone as smoothly as it can, but it’s still a tense time.

We were all physically and emotionally exhausted.

Dealing with such exhaustion is relatively easy.

We relaxed.

We slept, we went to the cinema, we ordered take away, we watched TV.

We watched whatever we wanted on TV.

This was an exciting novelty, although I did once find myself watching Peppa Pig just out of habit.

We went to bed knowing we would not be interrupted by a distressed child in the middle of the night.

When a Foster Kid moves on, you can do whatever you want, more or less.

We knew we’d done a good job, and that gave us a sense of pride.

A few weeks later, we rang our Social Worker and said that we were available to foster again.

We had redecorated the Foster Room.

We were rested and relaxed

I thought I had recovered.

6 months later the grief hit me.

A few other tricky things were going on.

There was some stress at work, I had  a couple of minor health issues, and it seemed to be constantly raining.

Normally, I’d be able to deal with all these things.

This time I couldn’t.

I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t eat.

I’m a middle aged, middle class man, who has bumbled through life quite happily.

I did not know what I was experiencing, and certainly did not have the vocabulary to describe it.

My wife is cleverer than me.

She got me to talk.

I talked to her and I talked to a couple of close, wise friends, who just listened.

I began  to explore what I was feeling.

I went to the parks I’d been to with the Little Kid.

I watched the programmes I’d watched with the Little Kid.

I made a Playlist of the songs that reminded me of him.

I did some crying.

I like music, any kind of music. Every kid we’ve fostered has a Playlist. The songs help me remember, help me explore my feelings, and help me grieve.

I looked at photos.

I did a bit more crying.

I began to write down a little bit about what I was feeling.

Some of those writings turned into blogs.

I write my Blogs as a way of processing my feelings. Sometimes people read them . Occasionally people tell me they like them. That’s a bonus.

You’ll grieve one way or another.

You’ll grieve sooner or you’ll grieve later.

Not every Foster Kid has impacted me like that one.

But he certainly left the biggest imprint.

That Kid is happy, healthy and thriving in a loving home.

It was worth it.