One of the reasons we bought a bigger house than we needed was that we imagined sharing it one day with someone who needed a home. I've wanted to foster for a long time but I wanted to wait until the girls were settled and resilient and totally on board with the idea.
Anyhow, we had our initial conversation with the Department for Children and Families (DCF) a few weeks ago. They looked around the house, talked about fire extinguishers, and listened to the rant I've outlined in the paragraph above. We explained our life plan, such as it was - sometime in the Fall we might be interested in providing respite fostering to a child around the same age as our own children, mainly at weekends... The DCF people smiled and nodded and ticked boxes on their paperwork and it was all very pleasant. Less than 72 hours later they telephoned to tell us about K. K needed a home. Immediately.
We said 'yes', of course. We said, 'Bring him over.' We said, 'If he wants to be here, he's welcome.' And it's a short term thing because he's one of the lucky ones whose family loves him to bits and can't wait to be able to have him back home with them. But that's the funny thing about love, because our hearts have opened to him too. It feels as though he's always been here. He's the one to make Iola laugh when she needs her vaccinations by plonking his baseball cap on her head so that she can't see; he's the one to jolly Maya along when she's in a bad mood because her new braces mean she can't play her French Horn as well as she used to. He's taught the dog a long list of new tricks; he's given the chickens new names; he's rebuilt the tree house and beaten Nathan at pool; according to Iola, who knows about these things, he swims like a killer whale, and he fills the house with his catchphrase - "I've got this!"
He's not a perfect kid, and we're all breathing a sigh of relief over that because who is? But we love having him here while life straightens itself out and maybe, if we're lucky, it might make a little difference to his life. It's certainly made a big difference to our lives, but then - as I've already said - that's the way love works, isn't it.