Ali’s Blog

Andy and I attended some attachment training the other day and afterwards we both said we wished we had known about the issues surrounding attachment and the behaviours and feelings it generates when we had first adopted our daughters over 25 years ago. We just muddled through in those days (poor girls!) following the advice of family and repeating the methods we knew from own upbringing – using the naughty step etc,which, on reflection, was not the best response.

Now we can see so clearly how our daughters were displaying different types of attachment dysfunction and how we hadn’t understood that at the time. Luckily they have both survived our amateur parenting into adulthood!

There is no point beating yourself up about it if you get something wrong as an adoptive or foster parent. I have reacted to a bout of verbal abuse and meltdowns in the calmest textbook perfect way one day (and given myself a big pat on the back!) and then failed miserably the next time and then beaten myself up about it! Many children in care are comfortable with conflict because it is what they know and expect and they are also masters of observing human behaviour and working out your achilles heel – they have had to learn it in order to survive.

You also have to develop a thicker skin when it comes to other people’s reactions to yourselves and the kids in your care – I have had people look and mutter mutinously when my foster child has barged their own little darlings out of the queue so they could get prime position and refused to apologise. I was as stunned as everyone else when an angelic looking little child in my care screamed a string of obscenities that would make a burly rugby player blush at toddler group. There are many other moments when out and about that our children haven’t ‘conformed’ and we have to stand by them, support them and help them negotiate what for them has been, and often still is, a very unstable scary world. Now I believe I could handle most situations calmly but it has been a bit of a steep learning curve at times.

Foster carers are human, we make mistakes and I don’t think we should have to be perfect – just reflect, re-evaluate and keep up the training and then every mistake is a step towards being stronger and more effective at helping our children.

Thank you for this Ali and Andy.