Capstone Foster Care Blog

My Dreams by Jenna

To My New Foster Parents,

World Dream Day with Capstone Foster Care

Thank you for asking me what I wanted and for saying that you wanted to help me make my dreams come true. Dreaming about dreams and talking about dreams are two of my favourite things to do. If I can read a book about magical things that can happen to a kid, I am in heaven.

I know that in real life, there are no wizards and fairy godmothers. But there are dreams. I want to tell you something that I should have told someone, my teacher, years ago. It’s about trying to understand dreams. I wanted to talk to her about what it meant to dream big.

I have to explain why this was so hard for me to understand then. When you are twelve years old, you are old enough to know what dreams are. I know, because I am twelve. Before now, when I was confused by dreams, it was because I thought dreams, you know, the kind you have when you are asleep, were real. If I dreamed something, I thought it was something that I really did. But that was a long time ago when I was four or five.

Please don’t stop reading yet. I want to explain all the thought I have put into dreams. I’m not talking about those kinds of dreams, that happen when I’m asleep. It took me a while to understand what people were talking about when they said that it was important to have dreams. I thought they meant night dreams and I had a lot of them. Even though they were bad dreams sometimes, I felt okay because it was important to have them.

One night I had a very bad dream and I could not wake up from it. That was very scary. The reason I could not wake up from the dream is that it was real life that got into my dream and when I woke up, the horrid things in my dream somewhere in the middle of the night it turned into my life.

The place was in darkness and my parents were screaming. It sounded like one of those horror movies I used to watch. There were no lights and it had something to do with money and Dad was screaming at Mom about how it was all her fault. By the time, I realised I was awake, the screaming was still going on.

Sitting there in the dark and knowing dreams can be so nasty, not knowing what was going to happen – that was when I wondered why it was good to have dreams. I wanted to ask my teacher about why it was good to have dreams but I never would have asked her, it would have made me sound silly. Until I got to school that day, I really thought I might have the courage.

Maybe it was for the better. Because I didn’t ask her, I had to work it out on my own. This is why I am so happy to be able to tell you all about my dreams and why being able to dream is so important to me.

Dream Big. That’s my motto. I wanted to tell you that right up front. What they are talking about when they say dream big, is about being able to have pictures in your mind of what you want in your life. It can be something that’s in your mind for right now and it can be something that is in your mind for when you reach where you want to go.

My Dream Big plan is to build my dream like a jigsaw puzzle, with each step like a puzzle piece. I can see what I want in my future as clear as a picture on the wall. I can see the living room I want. I can see my favourite clothes. I can see my jewellery. See what I mean? I have the big picture of the dream and I can see all the little bits that make the big picture.

I remember when I started to dream. When there are things to think about at night, it’s almost as good as having your own television show to watch. The first time I understood what it meant to really dream was when I was put into a foster home when I was 9. There was food and water. The house had lots of lights and there was even a little lamp in my bedroom that they told me I could leave on all night long if I wanted to.

The mother said I could call her Jane. She helped me put some of my clothes into a drawer in the dresser in my bedroom. She had a brand new pair of pyjamas for me to wear. They were cotton with big pink and yellow flowers and lace around the cuffs and they fit me perfectly. They were my lucky pyjamas.

Jane showed me where the towels were, and she said. “Oh, here. These are yours.” She gave me a sponge bag with a toothbrush, a big tube of toothpaste, a hair brush, a pink comb, and my own bar of soap that smelled like vanilla. When I got into bed, I wondered if it had been her way of telling me she thought maybe I wasn’t clean enough for her house.

The bed was clean with lots of sheets and a pretty cover. My pyjamas felt good against my skin. I went to sleep dreaming of living like this every day. When I woke up in the morning, my first thought was how nice it would be to live like this all the time. And that was when I realised what dreams were.

This is something else about dreaming. You start with a feeling. When I realised that sleeping in a warm cosy bed, in my new pyjamas, was a dream I had before. It was both kinds of dreams. I used to have a sleeping dream about living like this but I would wake up and be very disappointed that there were no covers on my bed and I was sleeping in my clothes. Sometimes, on the way home from school I would have a waking dream where a magic transformation has taken place in my house and it was clean and warm and my bed was made with really good sheets. And here I was, with that as my reality. I figured this was the beginning of my dream turning into something that was real.

I was in that foster home with Jane for 3 months and then I went back to my own mother and father. The house was clean and there were sheets on my bed, but the room still smelled bad. For a long time, it was pretty good with Mom and Dad. They were full of smiles. That was when I realised that I have been dreaming about this too. A peaceful home with Mom and Dad not fighting and the house was clean, even happy.

Then it was all right because they were good for a long time. Almost two years. I don’t want to talk too much about this part because I don’t want my mind to start thinking about what might have happened. I can tell you this. I came home from school. It was a Thursday.

The house was empty. It was worse than empty. In the living room, the television was broken. The screen was shattered. It looked like somebody had thrown something at it. On the shelf underneath the television there was nothing. My video games were gone and my Xbox was gone. It wasn’t a very good Xbox but it was better than no Xbox. It was scratched and an old model, but it was mine. My parents gave it to me for Christmas.

I went to my bedroom and did my homework and tried to ignore that scared feeling in my stomach. I didn’t know what would happen next and I know that going through all the possible things that could happen was no help. There was no way to be prepared for when my parents came home. I was having a hard time with my homework and I thought about the time I was in foster care and how they used to help me with my homework. Sometimes just getting the right answer to a question along with a little bit of an explanation made it all seems so clear.

What I did instead was dream. I dreamed about the little things that I want in my life like a new toothbrush. The toothbrush I had was still the one that I got when I went into foster care and that was almost 2 years ago. I held out the toothbrush and I looked at it and thought of it as something that was a symbol of how things can be very good.

I could have turned my mind to how things can be very good and then turn very bad but if I gave up on my dreams of things being good, then what did I have? I dreamed of a new toothbrush and then I dreamed of the bedroom that went with the new toothbrush, and I dreamed of growing up and living a life where I could have my own things and I would be in charge of them.

I do ramble, don’t I? The short answer to your question is you can help make my dreams come true by showing me how to feel safe with dreams and how to take the steps to the kind of freedom that lets me keep on dreaming, big and little things, until my future is as bright and shiny as that dream picture I have on the wall of my mind.

~Jenna


Sam and Paul had a child placed with them for 6 months and here they explain why they recommend fostering with Capstone and the positive impact it has on a child’s or young person’s life.

Sam said “it was just an amazing experience really, to have the opportunity to help children who need it the most and if you have a spare room and you’ve got the time and the patience, that’s all you need, you’re the perfect people to foster.”

Everyday, more and more children are being placed into care and there are sadly not enough fosters carers available for them all. Sam and Paul have had an amazing impact on this young boy’s life and have helped him to have a brighter future and they believe they were really fortunate to watch it happen.

“To look back after a placement and see a young person change and grow and come out of themselves and learn humour and social skills and genuinely become happier is just a massive, massive thing.” Paul explains.

Sam and Paul, thank you!

 

If you are interested in learning more, please call us and speak to one of the team on 0800 012 4004, or fill out our contact form or live chat. We look forward to hearing from you.


 Empty Nest Syndrome and Foster Care with Capstone Foster CareEmpty Nest Syndrome is a real feeling of grief and loneliness that parents can feel when their children leave home for the first time.

This is a letter from Mary who became a Capstone foster carer, after she struggled with the effects her three children leaving home had on her and her husband. It’s written to her very first placement James.

Dear James,

How time flies. I am sitting here in the living room, which by the way is still cluttered with the books and magazines I like to surround myself with. Dad is on the computer doing a complicated word game. You know how he loves his puzzles.

Dad. I smiled when I wrote that. I still remember and yes, you know me, I still get weepy when I remember the day you called him Dad for the first time. That was nearly ten years ago.

After more than a year of calling him Mr. Elliot, you just said, “Pass me the sauce please Dad.”

He didn’t blink but I know he was as moved as I was. After months of him saying to you, please call me Peter, or anything but Mr. Elliot, you called him Dad. And you did from then on. He thought it was too formal, Mr. Elliot. And I think he wondered why you called me by my first name from day one but kept him at arm’s length. Then when you called me Mum, I could see how he wanted to have the same connection too.

It’s so quiet in the house and it’s nearly midnight. I had to finish my mystery novel. You know me; I’ve got to find out who did it. I guess it was just the quiet and an article in one of my magazines about the empty nest syndrome that reminded me of you. It seemed like the perfect motivation to write to you and tell you why we decided to become foster parents.

The whole experience began with you. I know we’ve talked about you coming to live with us and be part of our family, but I never told you what a difference it made in our lives, then and now.

Maybe I should be writing this in my diary but since it is about you and how we met, I wanted to share the story with you. It’s not so much a story, but a lot of memories about how our lives changed. We had our lives mapped out from the day Peter and I decided to get married. We would have children and build a life together.

We didn’t know how fast the whole thing would go. Suddenly, we were alone in this house again and it was just so quiet. There I go, rambling again. The point is, I want to tell you about how it was when we went looking for you in our lives.

After all, we knew about you before we met you. It’s only fair that you know about how it was for us before we met you. Don’t worry. I’m not “losing it.” Hahaha.

I know that you know the basic details of our lives, like we had three children and they grew up and left home and suddenly there we were, just the two of us again and a great echoing emptiness in the house.

I don’t think you knew about that emptiness. I am sure you never knew how I would wake up in the middle of the night and hear the creaking of the empty house and I would cry. I would cry quietly so I wouldn’t wake up Dad. (I can see you shaking your head and thinking, oh that’s Mum, weeping away. She cries at adverts on the telly. Well, I don’t care if you think I am overly sentimental. I am, and I am proud of it.)

At first, I thought I missed Becky after she moved out, my last little chick, gone to uni. Then I realised it was a deeper loneliness than that. It affected every part of my life. I was only fifty and the whole purpose of my life seemed to have disappeared. There was no point cooking a big Sunday dinner or making my famous pizza. By the way, it only became the “famous” pizza after you named it that. Before it was just plain old homemade pizza with lots of toppings.

I even went to see the doctor about my weepiness, and she said I was depressed. She said, these are your golden years and you should be enjoying this special time. I felt so empty. My golden years? Don’t make me laugh I wanted to say.

On the way home, I popped into the shops to get something for dinner and saw a magazine with an article on “empty nesters”. I bought it and read it before I made dinner.

It described me. At least I knew I was not alone in this hollow feeling.

I did a little research about what to do to fill my empty nest days. I never was much of a card player and the idea of joining a bridge club didn’t appeal to me. A couple of days later, there was an article in the newspaper about fostering. It said that there were nearly 9,000 children and young people in England who needed foster parents. There were many more than that who needed fostering but lots were already in foster homes. The 9,000 were the ones basically on a waiting list because there were no more foster homes. They were waiting for people like Peter and I to open up our doors.

We went to the foster care agency in town and talked to them about fostering and they were wonderful. We sat down with a social worker and told her all about us. You already know what we were like then. Middle aged (okay, some people, not mentioning any names James, might have thought we were older than middle aged) with Dad working in a busy job and me with no special training in education or social work.

She was so easy to talk to and asked if she could come to see the house. I was nervous because, well this might come as a surprise to you, I am not the tidiest person in the world. I mean, the house was clean. I like a good bottle of kitchen cleaner or disinfectant as much as anyone, but I like my magazines and books to be close at hand, and if that means on the dining table or my chair, then that is where I want them.

A couple of days later, she came to visit. I had made tea and those lemon squares that you love so much. The big thing she wanted to see was the bedrooms. Luckily, they were still tidy after Becky moved out. When Rob and Sarah moved out, Becky had to test out all the bedrooms to see if she really did like her pink room the best. She did.

I suppose you were glad of that, because I don’t think we could have ever got all the pink out of her room. I had to stop right here writing this because I just thought of how you looked when we took you to your bedroom. You stood there and looked at every inch of it and asked, “Whose room is this?”

I said, “Yours.”

You asked, “But who does it really belong to?”

It took us until Christmas when Rob came home to convince you that that was your bedroom. Rob slept in the spare room and Becky slept in the pink room. Sarah’s still in Canada but she came home last Christmas to visit and she and Becky shared the spare room and Rob slept in the pink room but said he had nightmares about a unicorn chasing him. Note to self: I have got to redecorate that room; the unicorns have had their day.

I will have to talk to Jenna (our latest placement) about that as she has the pink room now. I did wonder about that as we let her choose what room she wanted, and we never did that for you. We just said look James this is your bedroom. We did that because it was more of a boy’s room than the others, but we gave her the choice. I’ll let you know what she decides about the unicorn wallpaper.

I never told you this either, but we thought we would get a small child, even though we learned that most foster kids are older. The social worker came to tell us about you. A teenager.

Then the next day, we met you. Fourteen years old and taller than me, already. You were so quiet. The question about the bedroom was the first time I heard you speak and your voice had already changed. I am rambling on about unicorns and wallpaper because I am hesitating to answer your question. What did we know about you, or what your life had been like?

I am struggling to write this because we never wanted to remind you of the pain you had experienced. You flinched at sudden noises and shrank away from us if we reached out to hug you or hand you something. Since you were two, you had been in and out of foster care because you kept being returned to your parents. They would stop drinking and doing drugs and promise to take better care of you.

Every time, it ended the same way – in violence. When you came to us, there was no going back. We knew that your father had killed your dog and that he probably wouldn’t stop there. I have to stop writing about that. I am trembling with knowing what you had to endure. I just wanted you to know that we can and will talk about anything you want to talk about.

It was just as hard to see you leave home for uni, as it ever was with our other three. They tell us that once you are familiar with the cycle of loving and letting go, it gets easier. They’re wrong. It’s never easy. I’m so glad you’re coming to stay for a holiday this summer.

I’m hoping you like working in Wales but you know, if you ever want to move back to this area, well…. yes, yes, I know I’m nagging. But you know it’s just because we miss you.

Enough of that. Remember the twins? Annie and Ellie? They were with us for nearly six months until their adoption was finalised. I hear that they are happy, and Annie is becoming quite a little football player. They had the spare room and the pink room, but I know they used to swap around from day to day and they counted on me not being able to tell them apart. But I could.

Your Dad and I had a health check last month. It’s something we wrinklies do as part of our ongoing lifestyle. It’s good to have affirmation that we are still healthy. We are, although Dad thinks he should go for longer walks and lose that extra five pounds that he thinks spoils his youthful good looks. Yes, you can hear me laughing.

We are looking into having a parent and child placement. That’s what they call it when they have a mother with a new baby come to live with us. Apparently we’ll need to do some further training at the agency before our first placement. I know they say it could be a father and baby or even both parents and a baby, but I have a feeling that it will be a girl and a baby.

Either way, mother or father, it will be different for us, but I think this will come in handy when you come home with your wife and baby. I’ll have learned how to have fun with the grand baby without flooding you with too much advice. No, I am not hinting that you get married and settle down, but I want you to know, I am looking forward to the day.

I love you, Son,

Mum xx

Now you know a little bit more about fostering, the kind of people we are looking for: enthusiastic, energised and with a compassionate approach to providing a safe home. For children who have had their lives disrupted, are you ready to talk to a fostering agency about becoming a foster carer, just like Mary did?

If you are interested in learning more, please call us and speak to one of the team on 0800 012 4004, or fill out our contact form or live chat. We look forward to hearing from you.


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