The Honeymoon period is so called because it’s that beautiful new, lovely, rose coloured glasses part of a relationship between Foster Carer and new Young Person.
It’s like a lullaby that drifts you off into a completely false sense of security!
The Young Person is lovely, polite, compliant, helpful and chatty; that is until they have taken the time to suss out the lay of the land, figure out bus time tables, where to get money from, who to turn to to get them closer to what they really want… which is back to their home, their family, their ‘safe place’, however unsafe it actually is.
Not all Honeymoon periods are the same, different young people with different needs, different circumstances make for differing timescales, the only guarantee I believe is that there always is one!
I go to support group meetings blushing with smugness that my new placement is an absolute delight! “Oh we’ve got a good one” I’d say, “She’s adorable” I’d gush, “Not going to have any problems here” I’d boast… ha ha ha – All the other carers nodding, smiling at me and really thinking “oh my gosh you’ve fallen for it again”.
We had a young lady with us one time, who was wonderful, for about 5 weeks. She went to school, joined in family activities, seemed polite and content. Week 6 and I was on first name terms with the security guards at her local shopping centre and bus station, plus the police across two different counties who kept telling me that they were not baby sitters and could we please come and collect her. I said, “Yes of course… in the morning”! Needless to say, this particular young lady had spent those first 5 weeks establishing contacts, figuring out bus and train timetables and how to sneak out of the house with her own clothes on under her school uniform.
Credit to her, however, she eventually said to me, “It’s not you guys, you’re lovely, I just want to be with my mum and my mates”. That’s the crux of it all; again, these young people love and adore their birth family. They don’t understand the nature or nurture of a loving, safe family, who don’t neglect or abuse them. That’s what our job is ultimately, to show them a different way of life, show them what it could be like. It is heart-breaking to watch them try to figure out how this life that they have been given is going to work. How can they get what they desperately want, to be with their own family?
The young lady above was eventually moved back closer to her hometown. I do however have good news, this Honeymoon period can in some cases do a full 360 degree turn around. Another of our young ladies was with us 4 years, did the honeymoon, then didn’t do school for a couple of years, then back to the honeymoon. (Yes, it’s more complicated than that, but I’ll share that another time). She did go live with her Mum after 4 years with us, it did not work. Thankfully, she now does have a good relationship with Birth Mum, but it has taken years of tears and growing up on the part of our Foster Daughter for it to eventually work.
This beautiful young lady continues to be a delight and is now 23 with a partner and family of her own, and I’m ‘Nana’ to a beautiful ‘Granddaughter’!!
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