I was at an event recently where a variety of foster carers were present. After all the talks were presented there was some entertainment and a lad in his early twenties stood up and said that he would be doing a magic show. He did two tricks and I can honestly say hand on heart I have no idea how he did them. They were really, really good. The other thing that struck me was how confident this young man was. He fielded the audience with ease, he was funny and could handle himself one on one with strangers as he coerced them into his bidding for the tricks.
Earlier in the day I had heard from a single male carer who spoke of having four lads in his care. It sounded like hard work but he praised them all and even made jokes about them all having girlfriends when he could not get one himself! The chap who did the tricks was one of his kids and I have to say I had one eye on the act and one eye on the carer. He seemed to laugh and clap louder than anyone else and was closer to the edge of his seat when it came to the reveal of each illusion.
As I observed I felt a profound sense of connection to that carer. He was experiencing what we all want : to see our young people not only to survive but thrive. His foster son was going places and we all knew it. I also felt drawn to the stories that he had not told that day. The ones where no doubt there were challenging behaviors and arguments, etc. Yet here in this moment was the culmination of a lad who was at university, who was bright and engaging, he was on his own path and he invited us to share his talents. What a fantastic testimony for this young man and his carer.
For those of you who have made it through and have success stories I implore you tell other carers about them. It can be really hard when the end is not in sight. Tell people even when you are not sure they will want to hear it. You are not boasting, you are celebrating. You championed them and you saw them prevail, that should be shouted from the rooftops. Equally, if you are a care leaver and are getting on with your life you need to tell your story too. I know what you are thinking, there is nothing special about you. Well, we will be the judge of that and I’m sorry to tell you but I think you are very, very wrong.