When considering the qualities of potential foster carers I would choose those who showed both patience and tolerance.
It is understandable there will always be a difference in the way that an adult will feel towards their own child in comparison to how they will feel towards another. I am one of the lucky few who have experienced exceptional acts of affection from one or two foster carers I have had in the past; these acts of affection seemed neither contrived nor forced, at least not to me.
But take the situation that the washing machine stops functioning during the time the foster child was using it; an accepting foster parent may reassure the child that the machine was old and near exhaustion but a contrary parent will be quick to blame the young person for the damage.
And even if it was in fact the foster child’s fault because he/she perhaps slammed the machine’s door too hard, the tolerant parent is conscious of how they would react if it was their own child in that position.
The worst situations include those times when foster carers are quick to call the police because a foster child’s behaviour is “threatening”.
Yet often it is nothing more than a raised voice in an argument; is the average teenager not likely to do the same? Yet because of the child’s background the police are called, continuing the labelling of children in care as “problem children”.
I am not suggesting that foster carers should condone bad behaviour or threatening behaviour but if you cannot present the same patience and tolerance you would to your own child then maybe foster caring is not for you.
Because you need to be willing to show even more tolerance and patience to a foster child – it is possible that the child may come from a troubled background and they will need you to help them, not give up on them at the first opportunity.
Jennifer Sarumi is a careleaver and a representative of the charity Voice
What do you think? Join the debate on CareSpace
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly emails