Sometimes someone will come up to me at the end of a talk and they’ll say “oh Krish I’d love to foster but I would love the kids too much and so I wouldn’t be able to give them back to anybody, so I’m not going to become a foster parent,” and there’s a part of me that keeps smiling and nodding and trying to be understanding, but there’s another part of me going well what are you saying about me? That I am some kind of robot? That I don’t care about these kids that we’re looking after? Have you understood what love is? Love does not say I’m scared of getting hurt so I’m not going to get involved. That’s not actually love; that’s self protection.
Love does not say I’m scared of getting hurt so I’m not going to get involved. That’s not actually love; that’s self protection.
Being a foster parent is incredibly tough – we’ve recently had to say goodbye to a little baby that we’ve looked after from birth, and it’s so hard because you’ve been up all night, you’ve bonded with this child, you’ve fed him, you’ve seen his eyes light up every morning and then you hand him over. And sometimes you never see those children again and so your heart aches as a sort of post-traumatic stress that comes over you as a family – a grieving if you like. And so it isn’t an easy job. We don’t need to think about all these movies where all the kids are always perfect like Anne of Green Gables when she gets adopted it’s all lovely and it all works wonderfully. No, most of the children that are in the care system have experience neglect or abuse (70% of them have had that) and so they come with all of sorts of challenges (behavioural challenges, psychological challenges) and your job is to be the grown up and love them as they are. It can be incredibly painful. Sometimes the children disclose things that have happened to them that no child should have had to experience, sometimes you have to fight for their rights at the school because they’re not being treated well. We’ve had to fight with government who wouldn’t allow a child to have status in this country because his parents had lied about their status. You become a champion for a child – all of their challenges become your challenges. And so I would say to people “be careful, don’t go in with rose tinted glasses, this is going to be tough, it’s going to rip your heart out”. But on the other side of it, it is one of the most rewarding things our family does. Every time a child moves on from our care we have a family dinner where we sit down and we remember the good times and we moan about how hard this is and then everyone in our family has a veto to say do we need to stop? Do we need a break and I’m so impressed that my kids have always been up for carrying on.
So it is the toughest thing you could do but it is also one of the most rewarding things you can do.