I was shopping at Tesco’s and became aware of a very tall young man in his twenties bending down to try to pacify a young girl who clearly didn’t want to be there. He was attentive and patient and when he looked up he clearly recognised me and came over and said “do you remember me you fostered me for two months when I was fifteen” The penny dropped and this patient and attentive young man was the lad I collected from the police station over ten years previously. He had been arrested for getting involved in a fight over something that had been said about his Mother who had spent her life battling the demons of alcohol. He was tall then and I remember how he could occupy the whole of the sofa when he was watching the TV and at fifteen it would have been easy to have been intimidated by his size.
As with many young people in his situation with dysfunctional parents his only way of dealing with rejection and pain was to lash out. When I collected him as an emergency placement it took us over numbers so the plan was always for him to move on within a few days. As often happened there was no alternative place for him and the few days turned into a few weeks. He behaved impeccably was well mannered and the whole family felt warmth towards this gentle giant of a boy. Both our own, and the other children in placement took him to their hearts and made sure that he stayed out of trouble.
I was now standing in front of a charming and polite young man who asked about all of the other seven children who had lived in the house when he was living with us and he introduced me to his five year old daughter. I was amazed that he remembered everyone’s name as I had forgotten his, in my defence we did foster 62 children so one or two names escaped me.
He did eventually move on to another foster family which didn’t go well and I was aware that he went to foster home after foster home and then sadly onto to a secure unit. That was pretty much the last I heard about him until this day in Tesco. I said he looked well and he told me that he was working was married and he was feeling good about his life. He then knocked me cold when he said that the eight weeks he spent with my family were probably the best eight weeks of his childhood. He was always a charmer but I felt that he really meant what he said and it made me feel that being a foster carer could, at times like this, be the best job in the world.