Glimmers of Hope

Dave shares his family story of welcoming in a teenage foster daughter

Our first long-term foster child was a girl on the cusp of her teenage years. She was 11 when she came to us, and we were her fourth placement.

I remember the first day she stepped through our door. She seemed so small – not just physically, but in every sense. She had her head down and wouldn’t look up for either of us, but when she spotted our birth children aged two and four, she immediately went to them. It made a lot of sense. Kids aren’t going to fill in forms or arrange a meeting. They just did what kids do. They played beautifully together, and we watched her slip into ‘this is a space where I feel okay.’ She didn’t move in immediately, it was an intentionally slow process. We wanted to make sure this was right for her. About a month after that first introduction, we moved her stuff into our home and created a space that was ‘hers’.

You hear a lot about the importance of having a spare room when it comes to fostering or adoption. It’s necessary because that child or young person needs and deserves their space and privacy, but we felt it was more than that for her – we wanted her to have her own little embassy, somewhere she could be totally at home and at ease, somewhere that could represent who she was, somewhere she could just be. So we kitted out that bedroom for her as best we could, made sure she had everything she needed and had space for all her things. She loved that room.

Let’s call a spade a spade: teenage years are tricky. You explore almost everything during those years. So they can be extra hard for a young person who perhaps already has questions about their identity and where they fit in the world, who is carrying a hard story, who doesn’t know what will happen when they turn 18. It can be really difficult to live with foster carers who claim to love and accept you, but your past experience is a loud voice telling you that ‘you know they will give up on you at some point.’ As foster carers we try to counteract that voice and seek to speak louder. “We are here. We are going to journey with you, and no matter what, we believe in you.” Young people in care need someone who will love them, who will champion them, who will stick with them. They need someone who will go to the school thing and cheer at the back way too loud! They need someone who will be proud of them. It’s a privilege to do this as foster carers. Teenage years are difficult years, but those years have brought us moments of real joy too.

When you see them take a tiny step closer to feeling safe. When they smile. When you see them realise, ‘That thing I did today mattered’. These are the things that are so rich in their win, so rich in their reward. We can often take these moments for granted, but they are just the most beautiful, often fragile, glimmers of hope. I think that’s the real economy of the kingdom, it’s those moments, those stories, those glimmers. And it’s what every teenager deserves.

Dave's story was first published in the Home for Good magazine: Summer 2021. To stay up-to-date with Home for Good's news and how you can give, pray and get involved to help vulnerable children and young people, join our mailing list here.

Author:
Dave Kingswood for Home for Good


Date published:
June 2021


Tags:
Stories


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