Kinship "Foster" Carers
 A place for those who care



Amy is a Kinship Carer who lives in America.  She cares for her Grandson and regularly blogs about her experiences, which you can read here..............   Amy's Blog 

Our very own Paula's blog for Grandparents Plus..........Paula's Blog

Experiences

I had only been married just over a year and my daughter was grown up and moving out. I was looking forward to marital bliss. But Unexpectedly overnight I became full time carer for my 2 nieces. I didn’t know these children well and I struggled with life, physically & emotionally and had to give up my job to dedicate my life to these children. I felt so alone, I tried to find a support group for Kinship Carers but there was nothing. I was isolated and felt abandoned! A year later I found a Kinship foster group on Facebook, followed by the Family Rights Group. I couldn’t believe my luck, so there were other people out there like me!. Unfortunately I have learnt my story is not unique but now have so many Kinship friends, they are my Rock and newfound family.

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Both my kids had just left home, I finally had a job I really loved, and we were eagerly looking forward to moving abroad. All that changed one Thursday afternoon, I came home from work and the phone was ringing, a voice at the other end said "we are removing your grandson for his own safety, can you take him", within 10 minutes there he was, scrappy, dirty and looking bewildered, my poor husband came home 45 minutes later to discover 2 policemen, a social worker and a health visitor, drinking tea in the living room. In a split second our whole life changed, all our plans were put on hold. 15 months later and we were asked to care for our grand daughter as well, less than 2 weeks before her birth. It wasn't a decision we took lightly, but we agreed. Little did we know that we would be put through the wringer, visits, contact visits, me giving up work, reports, more reports and a severe strain on our relationship. But we came through it, we are now the very proud carers of two beautiful children. If there is one thing I do miss, it is not the money, not my job and not my freedom. What I miss most, is not being able to be a nana, but the alternative does not bear thinking about. All I can say is, I am really glad I became a part of a very special group of people, and I am really glad I found the Kinship "Foster" Carers Facebook Group, it was so good to know I am not alone.

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7th November 2005, my life changed forever. Due to a sudden family bereavement, my 4 year old nephew came to live with myself, my husband and my 2 young daughters. I was now a Kinship Carer – something I had never heard of before and a role my family and friends had not heard of either. For the next two years, I felt so alone. Then my life changed again – I discovered the online world of Kinship Carers; firstly the Kinship "Foster" Carers Facebook group, then Family Rights Group. I can comfortably share my highs and lows with new found friends that understand exactly how I feel. I no longer feel judged at times when I feel I am struggling and the advice and support is invaluable. I look forward to welcoming you to our online family.

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My daughter gave birth to my grandaughter aged 17 in 2006, at first I thought it could be a blessing in disguise and give her the responsibility and strength to get away from her violent boyfriend and the drugs lifestyle they were so heavily involved with.  Unfortunately she came to her senses for only a short time and got involved in another "bad lot" and by the Christmas of 2006 I had my grandaughter living with me full time.  My daughter lost her home and ended up in a hostile, she then descended further into drugs and alcohol abuse and entered a relationship with an alcoholic with a history of violence.  In March 2009 my grndson had to be induced due to my daughters alcohol consumption and he was born early and malnourished.  Social services were aware of the family (unfortunately they were not so pro active with my grandaughter) and as a result my grandson was placed on a Child Protection Plan.  In September 2009 the police removed my grandson and placed him in my care.  The relief was overwhelming as was the anger and upset I had towards my daughter.  I know have a Special Guardianship Order for him supported by my local authority.  I am also pleased to say that My daughter has finally turned things around and moved out of the area but now has a good relationship with us all and most importantly her children and I could not have got through all of this and still have a smile on my face if it wasn't for my Kinship friends and all their support!!  What follows is probably a bit unusual but this is her thoughts of what happened and Kinship Care.
 
"I know that I have let everyone down very badly.  I was totally off the rails and obsessed with whatever boyfriend I had and their addictions.  I never thought it would happen to me, my children being taken off of me, that was what happened to other people.  When it happened there were times I was angry with my mum especially when I thought she didn't want to know me but I can see now that she was always there the moment I wanted to help myself.   If it wasn't for Kinship Care and mum and dad taking on my children I would not have the relationship I have with them now.  They probably would have been adopted and then I would have had nothing!  Now I am clear in my mind I feel guilty as hell about what I have put my family through but it will not help to move things forward, so I look at the positives and look forward to the future.  Do I love my children? YES!  Do I want them to live with me?  OF COURSE!  But it just wouldn't be fair on anyone.  They are settled with my mum, dad and sisters, and why would I want to uproot them and upset them.  They have been through enough and I am just grateful that I still have them in whatever shape or form that is."
 
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My life with my family was very "sorted".  We had four children ranging from 17 years old to 1 year old who were all doing well at school and in college etc.  My husband worked full-time as a roofer and I was a stay-at-home mother who worked for charity call centre during my free time.

One day my Grandmother admitted that my cousins four children had been removed from her care and then placed with her boyfriends parents, this placement had then been deemed unsafe and all of the children were removed to foster care.  I immediately contacted the Social Services department which was in a London Borough.  I was too late to stop the other children being adopted but another baby had been born already and he was to be adopted too.  They asked if we would want to care for him and we agreed immediately. 

It was clear when J finally came to us aged 7 months on a Special Guardianship Order that he was not the healthy little boy they had told us about.  I began a battle to get him diagnosed correctly and finally we were told he had Cerebral Palsy and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and well as other issues that would remain unknown due to a stroke suffered at birth from Crack/Heroin withdrawal.

We love him very much but our lives are very different now.  Caring for a disabled child is a hard path to walk and I have to fight for everything he needs. My husband now only works 2 days per weeks to help me and our children have had to learn that J takes a lot of time away from them.  If I did not have my fellow Kinship friends I would be a very unhappy Carer!