Friday, 26 February 2016

Goodbye to AC/DC - off to Germany

AC/DC, one of our very closest friends, is moving to Germany to work. Not for ever, just for a 6th month modelling contract but we are going to miss her such a lot.

I have asked her to write a guest blog entry but before I post that I thought I would tell readers a little bit about this wonderful person! AC/DC is what I call a feisty girl. If you ever wanted a role model to show that being fostered can be a positive and life-changing experience then I think AC/DC would be hard to beat.

AC/DC came into our life during the final days of the on-line Adoption and Fostering forum. It was back in early 2013 when she posted about her money troubles and how her former foster family had come to the rescue. As the months went by we found out about her dysfunctional Mother and how AC/DC had ended up in Care.
By June 2013 Ella and I invited AC/DC to become part of our blogging group. This was partly because she wrote such interesting content and partly because I was worried that she would be left stranded if Honey suddenly shut the forum down.
But enough from me: let AC/DC (or Sparky to her friends) tell her story.
I work as a model. Sometimes I'm a nude model for colleges but usually I appear in clothes catalogues for companies based in Germany and Poland. When I first met Eve and Ella I mainly worked in shops on minimum wages. I basically didn't have any spare money so when I saw a life model job at the Art Centre that paid lots more than shops paid I applied. I got that job and ever since then I have done more modelling and less shop work each year.

In 2015 I was earning enough as a model to give up working in a proper job. I did about 2 or 3 days a week for the last 6 months of the year until suddenly I was offered a 6 month contract in Germany. It was for lots of money and with a firm I had worked for before so I decided to take it. My boy friend Robbie is going to come to Germany with me so I will not be on my own in a strange country.

I am a bit scared about going there because I haven't done any German since I left school. I wasn't very good then and I bet I am even worse now. Robbie doesn't seem scared at all so that is good.

I live in what was the Granny Annex of my foster parents house. They have said that we can move back in when we return to England in September so that is kind of them. I passed my driving test last year, at my second time trying, so we will drive to Germany. That will be the first time I have driven on the right rather than the left side of the road.

I think my Foster Mum and Dad are a bit sad and worried about my going away but I'm getting grown up now and I need to be able to do this sort of thing.


Friday, 19 February 2016

12 months in the life of a former foster child

Written by Didi in January 2015

2014 is a year that I will always remember.

Back in late 2013 Magda and I split up after two years together. It all happened so suddenly that even now I can hardly bear to think about it. I wanted a more public, more permanent if you prefer it, recognition of our joint status but Magda didn’t and we went our separate ways. December 2013 passed in a horrid blur and although we had a short lived reconciliation over Christmas that only “worked” because we didn’t ever discuss the issue that was dividing us!

Magda went back to Norway and she and I exchanged emails for a few months but these messages were causing both of us great distress so in the summer even that stopped. For a few months I switched the emotional part of my brain off. I did my job as best I could and I kept in touch with my various friends both in the town and throughout the UK but it wasn’t really me doing these things. I was just an actress playing a role in some second-rate play. I kept hoping that something would happen to change the sadness I was feeling inside me but nothing did.

As I wrote in July “I have felt surrounded by grey clouds for much of the time and I've been aware, all too painfully aware, that I have been a source of much worry to my friends and foster parents alike. Believe me that wasn't through my own choice!”

The death of “Boy who will not be named” hit me quite hard. I didn’t know him that well in terms of recent  face-to-face contact but he was in my friendship group and his sudden death was a nasty shock.

In late September Magda got in touch with Eve and Ella and then a couple of days later Magda wrote to me. She told the three of us that she had a "Didi shaped hole" in her life. What Eve and Ella didn’t know until later was that Magda then made a promise to me that she would be coming back to England in November or December 2014. This was to be a secret between the two of us!

Meeting her at the airport was one of the great emotional moments of my life and I couldn’t share it with anybody because her return was to remain unknown - just in case. We haven’t put the clock back but luckily neither of us had ever said things that couldn’t be unsaid so there wasn’t too much damage to be repaired. Our master plan fell apart when Magda was seen in the town by our mutual friend Grace. Word spread as it was bound to and so we had to confess to lots of people!

So many of you, both blog readers and friends from other social networks, have supported Magda and I during this enormously difficult time which is why Magda and I agreed that this “soap opera drama script” needed to be written. Now you are all up to speed!

Written by Didi in February 2016

2015 was one of the best years of my life. A new job, a new home and a former lover safely re-installed into my life!

For most of the year Magda and I were living in Gloucestershire where I was Assistant Manager of a hotel. I was happy enough there except for one thing - I was the lowest paid Assistant Manager in the entire chain despite an unbroken chain of excellent annual appraisals! My salary review was postponed at least three times so in the end I started looking around for a new job and very quickly found one up in Worcestershire. As Eve described it, "It was a bigger and better salary in a bigger and better hotel" . As you might guess within 24 hours of handing in my notice I was promised all sorts to make me stay - I declined gracefully and off I went with Magda in tow.

We stayed for a while with Eve and Ella while we hunted for somewhere to rent. After a few near misses we found somewhere lovely to live and we moved in during October. Our new home is convenient for work and for seeing Eve and Ella at least weekly. It feels strange having a house with an upstairs and a garden when before you have had neither of these. Magda and I don't own a single garden tool between us so we are total novices at that job.

Magda, class act that she is, found an ICT position within 2 hours of starting her job hunt and she seems to be enjoying her new role. She is currently in the USA for a two week training module and I am pining for her!

It was sad saying goodbye to my friends in my previous job but moving around the country following the work is pretty standard in the hotel industry and you just have to get used to it. You promise to keep in touch but most of the time of course you don't. A friend of Eve and Ella's who we had never met before lives just a few doors away from us, it is, as they say, a small world!


Thursday, 11 February 2016

Just a girl I used to know - part 4 (we never bonded)

Way back in October 2014 I wrote a brief blog entry about my first few months as a teacher. I have now been a teacher for nearly 2 years and although the teaching part of the job is going really well the social isolation hasn't improved that much.

The staffroom remains dominated by a small group of middle-aged female snobs. If your clothes, car, address or subject specialism are not to their liking then you are a nobody. What I don’t get is why this adolescent sort of behaviour has to translate into professional ladies teaching in a school. I have no problem issue with women bonding with each other over common interests or experiences and there is much solace and comfort to be gained from sharing. But does this have to come at the expense of the feelings of those that are not part of the sharing? Why does clique membership have to be based on such trivial issue as where a person lives?

There are very few teachers in the school who are in their 20s. The one who was closest to me in age was the one and only psychology teacher.  I though we would have things in common so I made many overtures of friendship towards her. When we were on our own she was nice enough but as soon as one of the ruling clique came into the staffroom she would get up, even in the middle of a conversation with me, to sit with them. There is a limit to the number of times that this can happen before even I got the message!

She has left the school now - she left in December. I wasn't invited to her leaving event for the simple reason that she didn't have one. I asked her about this on her final day while she was emptying her pigeon hole for the last time. None of the clique had bothered to sort anything out and she lacked the confidence to organise it herself in case nobody turned up and she was left feeling totally humiliated.

The Head Teacher is the nearest thing I have to a proper friend on the staff - she is a Miss and what I would call a "repressed fellow traveller". Trust me, I can tell. I have a number of colleagues within the Maths and Science Dept who I regard as casual friends but that is the sum total of 2 years hard work on my part which is a fairly sad situation!

Friday, 5 February 2016

Blog entry #100 - well done us!

Ella and I started our blog in early November 2013 which means we have written 100 blog entries in 27 months which we think isn’t too bad as we both work and we both have husbands and youngsters to look after!

Our most memorable posts

Our first entry explains why we switched from a “by invitation only” newsletter, carefully targeted at former Care Kids, to an open access blog.

The remainder of 2013 was taken up by a whole series of guest posts.  Most of these contributors are still close friends and regular readers of our blog but they don’t currently post new material here for reasons you will discover if you read on.

Early 2014 saw the first mini-crisis in the history of our blog!  We both got new jobs (so we had less free time for blogging) and we seemed to be attracting readers who were hostile to our life-style choices. This small minority made many long-time supporters very uneasy. To cut a long story short a new Care Kids blog was started, under new management, with a very carefully monitored membership.   

The months went by and apart from one new entry in May 2014 our blog was on hold.

But then, quite suddenly, everything changed.

The on-line "Adoption and Fostering in the UK" forum closed down in very controversial circumstances, our dear friend Didi submitted a very sad guest post and another friend “Boy who shall not be named” died.

Late in 2014 we published our book “How I survived in and out of Care”.  When I wrote the book I did so in the sure and certain knowledge that it would upset some people and annoy others. If a reader falls into either category then my defence is that articulate and conscientious adoptive parents or foster carers – the type who would be sufficiently motivated to join an on-line forum or to read any book of mine on their vocation – are the exception rather than the rule. The on-going tragedy is that not all members of this elite group realise that their high standards are far from universal! Some of my friends had a long and happy relationship with their foster parents and a number of examples of entirely positive relationships are included in this book. Other foster parents I know from bitter first-hand experience just “went through the motions” and the degree of nurturing, especially when older teenagers were being fostered, that took place was fairly minimal. It is also my strong impression that the average quality of foster care gradually declines as the age of the child increases.

In 2015 Ella and I posted 54 entries in 52 weeks. I think that these three are probably the best of the crop.

I hope that my regular readers (150 to 500 per week) enjoy what Ella and I post.