Sunday, 29 March 2015

What a kind person - another good review of our book

It’s unusual to hear from those who have been in care. But it’s also incredibly insightful hearing from those who’ve been in care.

Reading Eve Higgins’ book ‘How I survived in and out of care’ is difficult. It’s hard to comprehend what care leavers have been through, and it’s hard – as an adoptive parent – to even consider what could have happened to my child, had he remained in the care system.

Eve, abandoned as a baby, and then enduring a number of foster placements before being placed in a children’s home writes about her experiences and the relationship that she developed with Ella – abused by her father, and ending up in the same children’s home as Eve.

I feel the book is stilted – as a read it doesn’t flow neatly from one section to the next, but then I imagine that moving through care is similar. There are no nice neat transitions, just the ending of one part, and on to the next. Paragraphs with little nuggets of information in.

But what this book shows is the importance of relationships – whether they are challenging, grief-filled as with Nicola, or long-lasting and strong – like that between Eve and Ella. Detailed through part of the book are the people that Eve and Ella know – the characters and friends they’ve come across both in the care system directly, and through the Adoption and Fostering in the UK forums.
The writer brings these characters to life and it’s not hart to feel connected to some of them.
The book features case studies that are well worth reading – giving a rounded explanation of a few people and their stories. And the final few pages contain poems written by Eve and Ella – which having read the book, I then found very emotional.

You can find the book on Amazon here. And check out the guest post

If you were fostered or if you spent time living in a Children’s Home you need to read this book. Many books have been written and many websites have been created that discuss fostering from the perspective of the foster parent. Virtually nothing, until now, has been written from the point of view of the child.
In the book Ella and I share a wide range of survival strategies that, quite literally, can make the difference between being happy or sad or between life and death.
If you are a prospective or current foster carer you also need to read the book. Your foster children are clients of an enormously expensive system yet virtually none of the “movers and shakers” seems to have any interest in their views or experiences.
You owe it to them and to yourself to have this knowledge because as you know – knowledge is power.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Catching up with old friends

When you haven't got a birth family to turn to if something goes wrong having a network of multi-talented friends becomes vital. Our friendship group is widespread and we work hard to stay in regular contact with them all.

Last weekend Ella and I drove a lot of miles, saw a lot of our friends and had a good time. Our husbands looked after Alice (mine) and Nicola (Ella's) and they too seem to have had lots of fun.

We started off by driving to Church Stretton via Ludlow. We had coffee and a cake with Commune1and her half-sister Yalelock. A bit later Commune2 and Airhead joined the four of us for a brief stroll round this small town. Airhead has very important exams this summer and I'm sure that all the blog readers wish her well.

We then drove up the A49 to Shrewsbury where we met Helena P, Simple not Simon and Paul F. We made a silly mistake when making the arrangements for this meeting. I forgot that Paul F had never met the other two and so he didn't recognise them when they were all waiting in the supermarket café for us to arrive - 10 minutes late! We had a light lunch that Paul F kindly paid for.

Then on to Montgomery, in theory, to see Abigail and Zulu. Zulu got delayed at work so we had to make do with a brief phone chat with him. This was the first time we had met Abigail so it was nice to put a face to the name and the voice. Abigail doesn't do Facebook because of people in her past she would rather not have contact with.

We stayed with Lulu Big Tits in Birmingham for the night. This was brilliant even though Ella managed to spill her Chinese take-away meal all over herself when she pulled rather too energetically at the lid!

On Sunday we drove down to Dunchurch to see AaBbCc on his narrow-boat. Miss Peanut is nominally based in Hull but has friends in Birmingham so stayed overnight with them and then met up with AaBbCc and us for a drink and a natter.

Then we drove home! This always feels strange and a bit of an anti-climax and we are already plotting and planning our next trip.

Of course we didn't see everybody we would liked to see but there never seemed to be a date when everybody was available so we had to settle for seeing as many folk as possible. Birdwatcher (from Wem) was just a bit too far off any sensible route and Wendy C (from Telford) is currently car-less and so she couldn't easily get to Shrewsbury.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Our youngsters like routine

Our birth children Alice and Nicola (both aged 2) seem to like routine - just not all the time.

At bedtime routine is vital to them. They are supposed to put their toys back into their "toy box home" and sometimes they remember to do this without being told!  They think they have to go to bed at the same time and there will be protests and even tears if they don't. But the most important thing is that whichever grown-up is putting them to bed must, must, must remember to give the bear and the lion a good night kiss before turning the light out.

Routine is a bit more of a complicated issue for Ella and I. If you swap between foster homes each time there will be a different set of family routines to get used to. Sometimes routines are fairly flexible but I can remember times when they were fiercely guarded and no variation was ever allowed. This added to the trauma of the new placement. Family traditions are usually fairly arbitrary and sometimes irrational and foster kids have no sense of ownership of them

In the Children's Home routine was everything. Mainly because routine was what the staff wanted. Staff used to come and go and other staff only worked certain days so it was easier for the Home Manager is everyday was basically like every other day. Rather like in prison as some of more street-wise kids used to say!

As grown-ups we still struggle with social situations that involve other peoples' routines. We never picked up on the "don't all families do X" events and sometimes we are left puzzled by the way mainstream people act.

Sales of our book "How I survived in and out of Care" are reasonable but haven't reached 100 yet. If readers would buy a copy we would be mega grateful!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Shopping with the little ones

On Fridays Eve is a work and I'm not. That makes me the sole carer once she (plus husbands) have driven off.

Nicola and Alice love going to nursery but Fridays are extra special. On Friday we go shopping as a team. During the week the list gradually builds up until by Friday it is a medium sized book. I look round the house hoping somebody has left a pile of money lying around - usually they haven't. So it is the cash machine and Nicola and Alice love the cash machine. They go so excited when I tell them that they can help me use it.

Getting two 2 year olds ready to go out isn't quick. When it is raining and cold it is even slower. "Can Teddy come too" - "It is too cold for him" - "But he has a woolly coat". And so it goes on, and on.

The Mother and Toddler spaces are usually full. Of the lazy and inconsiderate, not with Mothers. But this week we are lucky there is a space. Just one problem. A big puddle either side of the car.

Nicola and Alice remember where some of the things they like can be found. They love the "Ella has forgotten" game and so they help me find the bananas and the bread. If I buy Marmite I get into trouble since "Marmite is nasty" - "As nasty as Billy from Play Group"!

When we have finished we go to the café. We all have a drink and they share a banana. They chatter away to each other so I have a think. It's Eve's least favourite lesson of the week on Friday morning. So I beam brainy and patient thoughts to her.

On the way home we call in at the church. I'm not religious really but Eve used to be so lighting a candle is just what I sometimes do. Today I remembered our friend Nicola, she died in hospital a few years ago. Wherever she is I hope she is safe and warm and happy.

Then it is lunch for the girls. I just have a snack as the grown-ups eat in the evening. Then playtime or sleep time or both for the little ones until the other three come home safe and sound.

Friday, 6 March 2015

How Eve and I (try to stay) positive!

Ella here. It is my turn again.

We don't have many proper grown up in our lives. One is our adult mentor (and our publisher). He taught us a new phrase this week, "Everything that goes wrong in the world is either due to a cock up or to a conspiracy, usually the first." It made us laugh when we were able to use his words the very next day.

Sometimes one of us (usually Eve!) gets impatient when things don't happen straight away. For ages we used to think that people were like that on purpose, just because of who we were. We got bored of getting cross so instead we expected the worst and when it didn't happen we felt pleased.

It was like this with our front garden wall. The builder came round before Christmas to give a quote. We said yes but then he never came back. So instead of getting cross we phoned him and his wife said he was in hospital after a fall. Cock up 1, conspiracy 0!!

There is another getting impatient event brewing. Our adult mentor sent out review copies of our book ages ago plus copies of his other (astronomy) books to magazines. But most of the reviews have not been done yet. The people all have different excuses but it just that doing promised things isn't their most important job.

Eve and I try to be the best parents we can be. We know we don't have models to copy but if we try our hardest then if things go wrong we don't blame ourselves too much. There are lots of people worse off than us. Alice and Nicola are happy and healthy and that is what really matters. It would be nice for Nicola to have 4 grandparents to spoil her like most of her little friends seem to have. But she hasn't and me feeling sad isn't going to change that is it?