Friday, 29 May 2015

The hunt for Georgia S


Georgia became a subscriber after seeing one of our, very few, adverts. She sent us a short introductory email - prominently labelled “Not for publication” - giving us some background about her time in foster care. Then there was a lengthy silence. This didn't particularly worry us as new subscribers sometimes used to sign up on a whim but then don't bother to unsubscribe when they found out that what we offered wasn't what they needed. 

Eventually we unsubscribed her but about two months later she phoned us when we were both out. Mark took a long and fairly desperate message with a number to call. Over the next few months we tried phoning her loads of times but her (landline) phone just rang and rang without ever being picked up. 

Mark is mega reliable so when he said that he was certain that he had taken the number down correctly we knew that he had. So, unsurprisingly, we ended up feeling rather worried. Should we have done something then? Perhaps we should have but our own lives were going through a complicated phase around that time and we didn't have any mental energy to spare. 

And there the matter rested until March 2015  

We have a wide circle of adopted/fostered/Children's Home friends, who all have equally wide friendship networks, so we are in second or third hand contact with shedloads of people. We heard about a former foster child with a similar story to Georgia's but she was using a different name. Our husbands are very IT savvy so by comparing the headers on the email she sent to us with the headers on a email she sent to a distant acquaintance of ours the two of them managed, via the IP Address, to discover that the two emails were sent from the same small town.  

This gave us the confidence to send her an email to her newer address explaining that we had been a bit worried about her and we just asked her to confirm that she was the former subscriber and that she was safe and well. 

She wrote back, "Yes I am and yes I am." and nothing else! 

And there the story ends as far as we are concerned. Clearly something has been going on, who knows what?  Mildly upsetting but all too typical of the rather murky world of former foster children!



Friday, 22 May 2015

When the money runs out - so you have no other choice!

Eve writing this week.
When you come from a normal family it can be hard to imagine what it is like to have no money and nobody to borrow any from. In the pre-marriage days it was sometimes like that. As an example I can remember needing to have my degree dissertation printed and bound and having no money. No dissertation meant no degree and meant three years wasted.
If you have never faced this problem it is so, so easy to put your "judgy pants" on and be shocked at what people have to do to get by. In my case taking part in corporal punishment videos for money. Trust me when I say it was the least bad of the alternatives!
It is a lot about battling with your body. We girls do that more than most men. What with periods and PMT as a girl you are very much aware of messages that your body is sending you. You have a calendar in your head and you base certain decisions based on your monthly cycle. When you are being caned your body tells you quite loudly that what is happening is not a good thing. But you learn techniques and when you win against your body's demands it feels really good.
OK suppose I was going to have 50 strokes with a senior school cane bent over a table. A fairly typical £60 for 15 minutes project. In your head you divide them into blocks of 10. The first block is always the worst, you know its going to be and your prepare mentally. Deep regular breaths, focus on the counting not on the pain. At the end of the first ten I would open my eyes and make eye contact with Ella. I know she will be standing off camera and on my right side. A quick smile to show I'm OK and then close my eyes again. You are at about 60 on the parabola of pain (a concept I invented BTW) where 100 is your limit. Relax your bottom to let the fat and muscles cushion you as far as you can. Keep breathing slow and deep. Another 10 strokes gone and perhaps at 75 or 80 on the parabola. Most of the empty spaces on your bottom have been filed now so some strokes will land where other ones did. So the smooth curve becomes a jerky line but still going upwards. About now the endorphins, natural pain killers/dimmers, start to kick in. It is a bit of a race. Will you get to 100 before they start working? 30 done now, look at Ella who can see I'm still "in the zone". I'm starting to feel slightly drunk and the pain is steady or perhaps slightly down. Probably around 90 on the parabola. 40 done, still in the zone, but Ella is looking a bit worried. The last two strokes (49 and 50) are by tradition much harder. At 46 or 47 look at Ella and keep looking until all 50 are done. FINISHED! 
Don't move. Lie there for a short time. Your knees will start to shake a bit. Ella will be there to slip a dress over your head when you stand up. Go to the kitchen area and wash your face. Tears, nose snot, mascara all sorts to clean up sometimes. I'VE WON AGAIN. Money please. 
This is the reality for many Children's Home Kids!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Have they done a runner?

Ella here. My birth parents Mr and Mrs Nut Job have vanished. In a puff of toxic smoke no doubt.

This strange story has been going on for while. It just keeps on getting weirder. The house they had built was on land I was given and this makes them so cross. They always thought that as my parents they could just steal it off me. But the source of the gift was cunning and made it so they couldn't do anything until I was 18. Once I was 18 I was on my own.

Birth Parents tried to sell the house not long ago. Freehold! Which it wasn't. This didn't please the estate agent - they don't like sellers who lie. But now it has been rented out and they have vanished. Owing money all over the place.

How do I know all this? Because their solicitor phoned me wanting their new address. Yes they owe her money, I guess she will just have to get in line with the rest.

My BM isn't totally bad. She was weak, too weak to do anything about the abuse she saw daily. Too weak to tell the truth to the police when social services (via the school) got involved. But in her own way she still loves me.

My BF was OK until I started growing curves. Then he wasn't. I will always hate him, forgive and forget isn't part of me. I'm not surprised he has run away like a coward. I'm surprised he stuck around so long but his business was local so moving would have been hard. Eve always says that my BF likes to rewrite history. I bet most of his friends don't even know he has a daughter. The last I heard there wasn't a single family photo on show in their house and I have long since been disinherited.

BF has a drink problem, a violence problem and a brain problem. Apart from that he is fine!

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Walking home from school - aged 5

When children are little quite simple things can seem like an exciting adventure. Today Ella and I took Alice and Nicola out to the local park while the husbands did the gardening. Of course nothing is ever quick or simple when it involves walking with a 2 year old - but that adds to simple pleasure of the excursion doesn't it!

On the way we passed the local primary school where Alice and Nicola will start their formal education in a few years time and as we did a really vivid memory of my first year at school flashed into my mind.

In theory every day my foster mother was supposed to be waiting at the school gate for me at 3:15. About twice a week she wouldn't be there and I would walk home on my home. It wasn't that far but there was one quite busy road to cross. I always used to wait until there was another Mummy using the zebra crossing before venturing out into the road.

When I got home I was supposed to ring the front door bell but I could only just reach it. It was old and stiff and sometimes my little fingers were not strong enough to make it ring. If this happened I used to wait on the front step until somebody came to my rescue.

Now to get back to our trip to the park. The two little ones like to play running games with Ella and me, providing they can win of course. Then we walk across the park to use the play equipment for a while and then we walk home by a different route. All this time the two of them are chattering away to each other and to us - have you ever tried explaining to a 2 year old why a roundabout goes round and round? I thought not!

It is a simple thing taking a child to a park but I don't remember the foster family I was with in my early primary school years ever bothering to take me. Perhaps I have just forgotten?

20 years on I'm fairly sure that no school would allow a 5 year old to walk home on their own but things were probably different back then.  

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Meeting my birth mother

I (Eve) got married in 2010 and shortly after my Birth Mother asked – via the appropriate channels – to meet with me. Everybody who mattered to me in the world warned me not to do it but like a fool I went ahead anyway. 

As I wrote in the newsletter I used to author - “I have decided that I WILL have further contact with my BM and that gradually and carefully I will meet with other family members. It wasn't an easy decision to make. It was so tempting to be full of anger towards her and to just walk away. The truth is I couldn't go the rest of my life wondering what it would be like to have a family of my own. All the people that love me for who I am are supporting me in this decision although they are clearly worried that I might get hurt again.” 

A week later I wrote to a few of my closest friends.

“Ella was right and I was wrong. My BMs idea of a meeting is one that was to be held at a place and time to suit her with no attempt to see if it suited me. It was to be refereed (or facilitated or whatever) by somebody she has paid for and whom she knows through her work. She also wanted a formal agenda - written by her of course with no attempt to ask me for input. I refused to meet on was what basically her home territory and with her choice of impartial facilitator (impartial as in my BM already knew her and was paying her to be there). In the end we agreed to meet at the Country Park and agreed that I could bring a supporter with me. I arrived at the appointed meeting place ten minutes early and waited until my BM arrived nearly 15 minutes late - sharing her car with the so-called impartial facilitator who hadn't been invited!

Exactly as people dear to me had predicted she then started to read out what was clearly a prepared statement. Within a couple of minutes it became clear that the statement was going to be some variation on “blame on both sides”, “I have said sorry, what more do you want”, “I did what seemed best at the time” and “this is all very upsetting to me”. She was most put out when after 3 minutes I stopped her.

But once we moved away from her prepared script and the chat became unrehearsed I actually started to quite like her. I know a bit more about where she is coming from and she knows a bit more about how I am feeling. I shared bits about when I was very short of money at university and how it feels to have no parents to come to your graduation day. Not to make her feel guilty but to show her why I cannot just pretend that nothing has gone wrong between us.

She has explained why my Birth Father doesn’t want to see me and although I feel quite shocked and hurt by this there isn’t much I can do. Perhaps in time he will change his mind?”
Five years later people still ask me did I regret meeting my Birth Mother - the answer remains unchanged - on balance YES!