Friday, 25 November 2016

My first meal in the Children’s Home

My first meal in the Children’s Home 

Sitting here all alone. They said this is my room. 

A bright and light and airy room. Just me and my black bag. Black despair and one bin bag alone in my new room.

Alone but still I’m scared. 

Scared of the noises from downstairs. Downstairs, they showed me the downstairs. They showed where I eat, work and play. 

I’ve got to eat with strangers now. Not like it was at home.

Strangers, young and old, looking, wondering, whispering. Whispering about the new girl, that worried, thin girl. 

Thin, that’s me. Meals made me thin, that and Mr Nut Job. 

The gong! A thin, tinny sound, not imperious, but still summoning me. 

You must not ignore the gong. The lady told me that. 

The lady, tall and thin. She had seen it all before. The fear, the marks, the haunted eyes. 

Get up Ella. Brush your hair, dry your eyes. Look hard and tough, not scared. 

Scared? You bet I am. Down the stairs. One flight, two flights. Nearly there. 

That’s the door at the foot of the stairs. Noise and smells are pouring out. 

I stand by that open door. Nothing changes, not even a glance. Am I invisible? 

Invisible? Forgotten? No spare places that I can see. Except for one. That girl alone. 

That girl alone, she sees me now. I know her. The girl next door. Don’t know her name, that girl. Does she know me? She waves and points.
Points at the empty chair beside her. Look casual Ella, I tell myself. “You must be Ella? My name’s Eve.”

Editor’s Note - Of all the poems that Ella has contributed to this anthology this remains my favourite. The raw emotion and the way that Ella has written the poem in the same way as she talks - with short well-crafted sentences - makes this poem the "essence of Ella".

Friday, 11 November 2016

The final placement

The final placement 

Failure was what I knew, all that I knew, all that I ever seem to manage. I’m good at failure. I’ve had lots of practice. I wrote the book on failure. 

They kept a book on girls like me. Tracking the spiral, going down. 

It all goes down, what I did wrong. The problems caused. The sanctions. 

Sanctions - that’s a nice harmless word. A word that tells you nothing. Nothing to show who’s at fault. No adult is ever at fault - just me. 

Point the finger of fault at Eve. She’s too quiet, too bright, needs too much. The question now is what to do. Who gets the shortest straw, gets Eve? 

An idea, the committee have an idea. What can that Godly couple do with her? That Godly couple. Older not wiser. The triumph of optimism over experience. 

Older, greyer they welcomed me in. A bad start, a Bible on the bed. It got worse. Grace at the start of the meal. Then silence, an awkward strained silence.

God’s Will broke the silence. A nice Sunday School lecture on sins and faults. 

My sins and faults no doubt. They pause for breath, my turn to speak. Deep breath. 

A deep breath, a faked yawn. “I’m very tired, can I go to bed now, please”. No fight. 

No fight left in me. Just another unfamiliar bedroom. No fighting until tomorrow!

Editor’s Note - Eve remembers relatively little of her time in foster care. Some of her memories are very fragmented and others are so specific that they might allow places or individuals to be identified by a determined researcher. The story of Eve's final placement is somewhat different because she remembers the details so clearly and because no personal details need to be disclosed for the full story to be told.

Friday, 4 November 2016

The value of networking for foster kids

In the last month I have either been helped or have helped 3 long-term friends that I made during my work with children's home or fostered children. These three were the subject of an earlier blog entry so it is nice to report a bit more on these lovely people.

Jam Tart was a former subscriber to the Adoption and Fostering in the UK forum and that is where we first met him. His own parents had been long-term foster parents so he didn’t have many illusions about the realities of being a foster child. His life experience meant he was one of the few people who could empathise with our situation. He works as Head of Science at a school on the England/Wales border but as part of his Continuing Professional Development he had been tasked with raising awareness of the particular needs of "looked after children". I was able to point him in direction of a several possible speakers and he ended up using two of my suggestions.

Kitty B is a close friend of Ella’s Mother-in-Law. She has been a foster parent for many years and, kind soul that she is, has offered Ella and I some excellent advice and support more than once. In 2013 she decided to stop fostering for a while because her final teen has been moved onwards and upwards and she decided that she needed a break from all the stress. The firm her husband works were planning to move to Coventry but in the end stayed in Worcestershire so all the uncertainty and upset caused by this cancelled proposal wasn't even needed. She needed a new job and thanks to Didi (via me) a suitable one was found in a local hotel. 

Reigning Monarch has a lot in common with Kitty B in that she too has been fostering for many years. She lives near Blackpool and has met up with some of our friends from there a couple of times. Her Mother died in July 2015 and her Father moved into a residential nursing home until the Grim Reaper came calling. She has made a very generous donation towards the next Care Kids Conference in their joint memories..