A lot can happen in a year. Lives can change for the better, almost beyond recognition. That’s what’s happened with Marie and Carol, two sisters who arrived as an emergency placement and have been living with my wife and I for a year.
They arrived a few days after we’d said goodbye to our previous foster children. Marie was ten at the time, a timid girl with the palest skin I’d ever seen. She looked terrified and had clearly been through a lot. Carol was nine. She was bubbly, chatty and apparently hadn’t had to deal with as much as her sister.
Both girls were petite and underweight and personal hygiene skills were still to be taught. They arrived with dirty clothes, full of holes and a couple of sizes too small.
Behaviour-wise, things didn’t start off very well. That first weekend was chaotic, to say the least. The girls were violent with each other, swearing profusely and acting out.
Over the next few weeks their behaviour improved quite a lot. The fighting gradually diminished and they corrected themselves for any foul language. It was an impressive change, but there were still occasional outbursts.
Since the first weekend, Marie and Carol had been asking about their brother, who had been placed with another foster family. They’re sweet girls and look out for each other, and their brother is the same. Contact was arranged three times a week, with all three children, their mother and their father attending. At least that was the plan. Mother struggled to manage the contact and there was clearly conflict within the family.
An evolving, supportive situation
A few days after the first meeting, I was informed that their father had terminal cancer. In early May, the end was in sight. Their father had been rushed to hospital and then taken to a hospice. He wanted to see his children one last time, so I picked up the girls and took them to see him.
They were incredibly nervous and weren’t too sure what was going on. He was clearly very happy to see how healthy and well the girls were. I told him they were going to school without fail and weren’t fighting anymore. I showed him photos of them at our house, having fun together.
After their goodbyes, I left him a letter telling him not to worry about his children – I’d love them like my own and make sure they were safe and happy. He passed away two days after our visit.
A few days after we were booked to go on holiday to Spain, which was a welcome distraction for the girls. Both Marie and Carol managed to have fun, learning to swim and playing silly games around the villa. By the end of the Summer, Marie had really come out of her shell. She was as confident as her younger sister and started to join clubs and meet more children. From gymnastics to street dancing, she couldn’t get enough!
It wasn’t just Marie who was visibly changing, both the girls were making progress. Their school attendance hadn’t been an issue for some time and they were really taking advantage of their education. Marie even became a prefect!
Fast forward to the New Year and we were off to court. It had been decided that Marie and Carol wouldn’t be returning to live with their mother and that they’d be in long term foster care until they turn 18. My wife and I have genuinely grown to love them as our own. We’ve become a proper little family.
What’s next for the girls? They’ll be leaving the school they currently go to and moving to the one around the corner. These girls have overcome so much, and they’ll be a part of our lives long after they’ve become adults and left our care.
As told by their foster carer