Ben, our little one, wasted no time at all. He catapulted himself on the top of the trampoline before I could finish tightening the last nut. I had to push myself to behave as the responsible parent I am, fasten that last nut as tight as it needed to be, dust my t-shirt down, and only then jump in like an excited school boy.

Ben could not stop himself laughing, and I could not stop laughing with him. The sound of a small child having fun is so genuine that it’s naturally infectious. He kept spurring me on yelling “Come on, Daddy, come on!”, with a brashness and impatience you wouldn’t expect from a two years old, but that only made me laugh more.

That’s the kind of perfect moments you would never want to end. But then they do, in this case with me laying flat on the trampoline bed gasping for air, trying to convince Ben how much more fun it would be to bounce gently on our backs, while staring at the clear sky above.

Follow the rules

In that moment I understood why Social Services relies on strict guidelines when deciding on the age of child a family can adopt. Most Local Authorities won’t allow an age gap wider than 45 years between the youngest partner in the relationship and the child. It’s surprisingly generous if you think about it. In our case, it means we could adopt again in a couple of years, when Ben is a little older, we even older than we are today, and still hope for an infant. I’m flattered that Social Services may actually believe I could look after a baby well in my forties, and do so for many years after that, but I don’t think I can.

It’s not simply because lately I’ve picked up a mild addiction to hot chocolate and gained a few pounds (there is a good chance the two might be related), but because I believe that raising a child is not just about being around on the day of their graduation or at the first dance at their wedding. It means so much more if we can join in in the fun, and sometimes, I feel old for Ben already.

Fun in sharing

Age seems to be less important for a foster family. It matters less how fit you’ll be in the next 10 years because 10 years from now your foster child won’t be with you anymore. With fostering it only matters how fit you are today. Then, of course, it doesn’t always work that way, some children never find a forever family, so I’m not sure why it should be different.

For a while we thought Ben would have been the only child in the family, although that’s not what we wanted for him. Fostering changed that.

We didn’t decide to become foster carers so that our son could have siblings – that was never the plan – but because of it, he won’t grow up as an only child. I understand how hard it will be for him, some days he might even resent the choice we made, but my hope is that there will be something in it for him too.

Nobody ever mentions the positives of having a foster brother or sister; everyone always dwells on the heartbreak of seeing them leave.

There must be something to gain from sharing our life with someone, even if only for a short while, and I hope Ben will be able to see that. Because there is no point in trying to help others if it comes at the expense of someone else, least of all your own child. That would be the exact opposite of selfless; that would be us just being selfish.

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One Comment

  1. Roselle Potts 21st August 2016 Reply

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