I am leaving this job on Friday, and the
teenage children in my care, some of whom have been known to me for
nearly ten years, are clamouring for extra attention.
I don’t promise to keep in touch with them,
because I know I won’t, and it may interfere with their newly
allocated workers. But the
feeling of loss, even betrayal is high.
Have a difficult day ahead, as I am taking one
of them, called May, to meet her birth mother. Fostered throughout her life in
somewhat difficult circumstances, she needs to do this, before I
leave. It took six months
to track the mother down; they have spoken on the phone and we are
all nervously waiting for midday. The girl and her mother seen
together are startlingly alike. The girl is pretty enough but her
mother must have been a beauty. Now seeing her thin and frail, and
in poor health, as she apparently always has been, makes the
abandonment all those years ago somewhat more bearable.
When we leave, they make no plans to meet
again but we detour past the hospital where May was born, and drove
round the area for a while.
Life history work, never possible before, is now necessary.
The foster parents of this girl phone through
asking for an urgent home visit. I fear the worst – maybe she wants
to leave them and go to live with her mother. One young man recently did just
that. Abandoned at three days old on the step of a Children’s Home
in true Dickensian style, he managed to trace his father when he
was about 21 and lived with him for some six months before it fell
to pieces and he went back to his adoptive home.
Anyway when I get to the house, all is well.
Somehow seeing her mother has released May from her history. They
all talked well into the small hours, and now she also wants the
adoption that they long for, to go ahead. I promise that if needed
as a witness, I will come to the adoption hearing, wherever I’m
From highs to lows. The night duty team dealt
with an attempted suicide yesterday of a 14 year old in foster
care. I stop sorting out the deritrus of nearly twelve years and
drive furiously to the hospital. She sits in bed, holding the
foster mother’s hand, both of them in tears. A silly story gets
shuddered out, a lost cardigan, a threat, a curfew, and she reached
for the paracetamol. No lasting damage to them, one hopes, although
I am left feeling totally inept. They are seeing the psychiatrist
this afternoon which is a positive step but I regret that my last
meeting ends like this.
Clearing my desk, I hadn’t realised I had kept
so much stuff. Letters from
successful adopters, a photo of a girl once in my care, with her
new husband, my own degree and other certificates, for which I have
searched at home as I need to produce them for my new job. Articles on practice torn from
countless journals, never to be read.
Seen off by colleagues, clutching my present
and some flowers, I come face to face with a woman who once raced
up the office stairs, machete in hand, threatening to kill
me…”Heard you were leaving” she carolled cheerfully, “best social
worker my kids ever had. Come to say goodbye” and she pressed a
bottle of stolen perfume into my hand.