What fostering means to me
Today on the BAAF blog, we hear from Lydia Bright from TV’s The Only Way Is Essex. Here, Lydia shares with us a piece she wrote when she was at school regarding her mum Debbie’s life as a foster carer.
It’s not persistently trouble-free living within a home where there is constant cry seeping from the bathroom, and a clutter that makes a skip look organised. But fostering makes a difference in the world, and to be part of something so extraordinary I am blessed.
My mother decided to pursue a career in fostering when my eighteen-year-old sister turned one, and she was wobbling along pregnant with me (baby girl number two.) To be honest she had told me she was never particularly fond of children. She had always been a career girl, (being a fashion buyer for the famously known brand ‘Debenhams.’) She was an articulate, suited and booted, glamorous city girl by day (and a crazy party girl by night.) Debra Douglas was always acknowledged as the blonde, size zero, striking fashion girl the ‘it girl…’
Although now twenty-two years later unlike her old morning routines, (Which consisted of choosing a pair of ‘Gina’ stilettos to model with her ‘Dolce & Gabbana’ suit, and apply a ‘Warm Beige Chanel’ base coat of foundation.) She has constantly got a baby under one arm, and a mug of cold tea in the other. (Not to mention the sick down her ‘Primark’ £3.50 fleece jumper.)
I have never known any different, sharing my home with hundreds of children. Although I am aware that what I call ‘family’ is rather abnormal. I do notice that when I come home to introduce my latest romance to my mother, (who at the time is serving fish fingers, beans and chips to seven children.) They raise their eyebrows in amazement, and strangely always insist that movie nights should take place at their house. (Not that it bothers me; peace and quiet is an infrequent luxury in my home.) Or when we all go to Italy every year and wait at the conveyor belt with four trolleys, jam-packed with prams and suitcases and snotty children shrieking ‘MUM ARE WE THERE YET?’
Fostering has sculpted who I am. I have always believed that our personalities are a mixture of our environment, upbringing and our parents. I believe that without my mother’s influence of her career, I would not be so aware of how drugs destroy families, how alcohol addiction can devastate homes, and how desperate children can be for a mother and a father. I believe fostering has developed me into a gentle, accepting and understanding person. It has taught me never to stereotype an individual, and accept people for who they are.
Fostering has not always been easy. I can think of more than one occasion (well hundreds really) when I have just wanted to run away. Oh how I longed to be an only child in these desperate states of need. Where I could just sit and eat dinner at the dining table without having to worry about the ‘Robinsons’ orange juice spilling on my spaghetti bolognaise.
Although for the hundreds of poor memories, there have always been one million precious, pure and positive to contradict them.
I can remember the exact day Rory entered our home. He was only two years old and already four stone (he was huge.) I looked at his huge, round hazel eyes and mop of frizzy blonde hair and fell in love. His cheeks looked like a hamster’s, and his legs had so much fat on them he was unable to crawl. He was completely dazed by the whole event and just sprawled in a social worker’s arms smiling. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I have loved him as if he were my own brother. He still finds it difficult to speak even though he is approaching four. Although I am certain every time I walk through the door from school, Rory will run down the stairs and embrace me in his arms and cover him in kisses. Whenever I am down Rory will be there to cuddle me and tell me he loves me. Whenever I am happy Rory is always the cause of my smiles. He is my little ray of sunshine.
Children like Rory are so innocent and have never committed one sin. Although they have been faced with such hurdles in life, and have so many more yet to jump. At only the age of seven his older sister Bella (whom is aso a foster sister of mine,) knew how her own mother injected heroin and sniffed crack cocaine. She often used to sit up at night, crying in my arms, screaming ‘Why won’t mummy get off the gear.’ Life has been so tragic for these young, harmless creatures. They have been battered, rejected and forgotten simply for asking for love. By the people that should love them the most. What is the definition of parents? An organism that produces offspring? No! A parent is one who nurtures, raises and loves a child. A father or a mother. A guardian; a protector.
We are all part of one world, the Earth that we all live in. We are all part of one family. What is life without helping the vulnerable? Living life without dedication, generosity and simply making someone smile? Going through day to day, without caring or loving others? This is not living this is simply existing. God put us on earth to make a difference. What better way to make a difference than to foster? To give these children a second chance. A chance to go to school. A chance to live a carefree and normal life. A chance to be loved. I have so much admiration for all the amazing foster carers out there, and am so proud that one of those angels is my mum. Thank-you God for blessing me with my mum.