When I made a decision to become a foster carer, I wasn’t really thinking about hope. I believed that I would be able to support a child in foster care and like other areas of my life, work things out as I go along. In some (ok many) ways, I was idealistic (or naïve) about what this all meant. CC, my gorgeous foster daughter (and her mum and dads gorgeous daughter) arrived into our family home and proceeded to show us her very narrow emotional range. CC didn’t really smile like other 2 year olds. She was indifferent to most things and people (except food). Over time this has changed but I have continually had to re-adjust my thinking about what is within her range. Over the years, there have been many times when I wish I had leaned into ‘hope’ more than I had. Some days I just sat in frustration as I couldn’t understand why a loving home wasn’t enough to help CC heal. In many ways, even on those frustrating days, she was healing and feeling safe and that is exactly why the behaviours surfaced at home.
I don’t believe anyone else’s words or stories about becoming a foster carer can truly prepare you for your own unique experience. Some people who choose this pathway have their own faith that holds them steady over time.
For me, it is HOPE.
Some days I do wake up and think to myself ‘I hope this is a good day for CC’. Because a good day for CC helps us all have a good day. Of course my role as a parent/carer is to ensure I co-regulate when CC is struggling and help her move through her emotions in a way that is safe for herself and others. At the end of a tricky day, I again apply hope. I hope tomorrow is easier for CC and all of us. I hope I am having a better day tomorrow. I hope I can find some time to myself this week to just ‘be’.
The many appealing features of HOPE:
- Hope helps us weather the challenging days/weeks/months
- Hope helps us to not focus on worries/anxieties
- Hope helps us re-set for another day
- Hope helps us try new things
- Hope is our invisible friend
- Hope gives us and our child/ren something to look forward to
- Hope can be the difference between giving up or staying the course.
Building a daily practice of HOPE
– Keep a HOPE journal (pairs nicely with gratitude journal 😊)
– Use the language of hope to work on goals (what do you hope for and how will you get there)
– Have conversations about hope with your child/ren (what do you hope for today, what do you hope for this week, month).
You will know what would work best for you and your family but the key is to maintain the language of hope in your home
Hope and evidence-based parenting and therapies are not mutually exclusive at all.
CC has just completed her EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Re-Processing – evidence based trauma therapy) and the results have been astounding. Whilst I had hope that it would work, I also knew that not all children or adults have as much success. In this instance the combination of hope and evidence resulted in a great lifelong gain for CC.
Hope helps us to try out new things such as trauma based parenting techniques that may significantly support a child or children in your care.
Hope and heartbreak
Hope in the context of fostering is like so many things more complicated. A carer may hope that working with a parent to get their children back home will help but it may not. A parent may hope to get their child back but the Courts determine it is not the right time. A child may hope to see their parent/s for an upcoming visit and for whatever reason, the parent/s do not make it. A child hopes not to have to move again in care and for no reason of their own, is moved again.
Hope however, will help you to guide yourself, any child/ren in your care, a parent you are supporting in a way so you don’t give up.