I became a foster carer 14 months ago, when I arrived home after work one Monday evening in January to discover a message waiting for me on the answering machine. It was from Lisa, a foster care worker with Anglicare Western. My first placement!
Mixed with the excitement were feelings of anxiety - "What if the kids didn't like me?", "What would I feed them?", "What would I do with a 7 year old girl (the oldest of my niece and nephews was almost 4 years)?"
I was up late that evening, making beds and putting up "Wiggles" posters in the spare bedroom. At 12 pm I received another phone call from Lisa. She wanted to know if I could take a temporary emergency (TE) placement overnight, a 5 year old boy who was currently appearing in court, where the DHS were seeking an accommodation order.
Why not? I thought. The beds were made! My TE placement arrived, fast asleep, at 2 am. I'd had about 30 minutes sleep. I was to drop him off at Anglicare at 8.30 am the next morning and would collect my longer term placement, a 7 year old girl and her 3 year old half brother the following afternoon from Anglicare.
I couldn't wake the 5 year old the next morning - not surprising when you consider what he had just been through. In the end I had no choice but to carry him, still sleeping, out to the car. My first foster placement hadn't even seen my home!
I heard a funny/sad story later about this brief visitor to my home. He subsequently spent a few weeks placed with a neighbour of mine. She tells me that he was playing "Knock! Knock!" in the car with her grandchildren one day. Her grandchildren were saying "Knock! Knock!" "Who's there?" "Winnie." "Winnie who?" "Winnie-the Pooh!" My TE's contribution was "Knock! Knock!" "Who's there?" "It's the police. Open up or we'll break the door down!"