We are getting towards the end of our fostering training. This weekend we will have our last home visit, and then it’s going to be a long wait till panel date in October.

The fostering assessment process hasn’t been any different from the one we went through for adoption. Nothing was really new or unfamiliar, and we knew what to expect. We already filled up all the forms and talked extensively about ourselves once before, and this time around opening up to a virtual stranger was almost effortless.

It might seem strange, but what I struggled the most with was filling up our Eco-map. I found it difficult two years ago, and even harder this time around. Who’s friend and who’s not, who can I count on and who will bail on me, who’ll be there to help me and who will be suddenly too busy?

I compared the Eco-map we produced while adopting and the one for fostering. I was expecting the two to be very similar, after all, we adopted Ben only two years ago, but there wasn’t even one name in common between the two.

So, what happened in the last two years?

Adopting Ben changed our lives, changed the relationship we had with the people we knew, what we do and how we do it. Being a parent does that to most people I guess, and the added challenges of adoption don’t help the situation. I shouldn’t have been surprised in finding our eco-map, our circle of friends, completely revamped.

When we told our friends we wanted to adopt, everyone sounded very enthusiastic and sympathetic. Everyone assured us they were going to help and support us every step of the way. They led us to believe they would have been available to give us a break if needed. I almost feared they would have come on holiday with us just to lend us a hand if we were struggling!

But something changed between that initial conversation with our friends and today. So many of our them slipped away, slowly and silently. The few left are terrified of us starting to foster. Not that any of them have ever expressed any concern. They are still enthusiastic as they were once, but now in their eyes, I can spot a sceptical expression as to say “you’re either brave or completely mad”.

In reality, we were left alone a long time ago. I wonder if this is something that comes with parenthood, or with the challenges of adoption. Then again, maybe we only had very poor friends!

So I picked up the pieces and started again.

Not long ago, I was chatting happily with a mum at playgroup, only to realise that we didn’t have anything in common. Number one, she was twenty plus years younger than me. Number two, she didn’t have a clue about what I was talking about. Surely not her fault, but I came to the realisation there wasn’t much of a friendship opportunity there.

After that experience, I retreated online to Twitter and Facebook. There is always someone there ready to listen, and willing to help. Someone with a good advice, or just a word of encouragement. The expertise online is gigantic, so much knowledge all cramped in the 5” of my mobile phone screen. Best of all, I can bring it with me wherever I go.

But I craved human contact, face to face interaction, the spontaneity of a conversation that can carry on for longer than 140 characters. So, very “unlike-me”, I decided to try something new and meet up with one of my contacts on Twitter. Maybe it was the good cappuccino, or the clean air of the park, or more likely the good vibe between us, I had a great morning. I loved it. Ben loved it. All around positive!

I only recently realised that with a bit of patience, luck, and by putting myself out there, I can find other people who know about adoption and fostering, and don’t live thousand of miles away.

I will always value my virtual friends. I know they will be there when I need them, as I will for them of course. It would be so nice if my Eco-map could include people whose name starts with a @ symbol, but in case of emergency, I will need to rely on old-fashion, non-virtual, flash and bones friends. Possibly with a car 🙂

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    • Laura Boccaleone 13th August 2016 Reply
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