Holly, our little foster daughter, moved out a few days ago.

When I look around the house, there is no trace she has ever been here, if not for a picture frame sitting on the window sill.

Holly arrived quickly in our lives, about 5 hours after we even knew she existed, and she left almost as fast. It was just a few days ago that we got a call from her social worker to say Holly would have left in a couple of days.

The news came as a bit of a shock, but not entirely as a surprise. It was in the air, it was the only choice left on the table. Her social worker didn’t really do a good job in representing her best interests, and the outcome just reflected that. I keep trying to remind myself that my role as foster carer it’s not taking decisions on what will happen to a child, or to judge the outcome of the court. But my role includes compassion and hope. So I hope every day that Holly is safe and looked after in her reclaimed life.

In the meantime, the phone already started ringing. We have a boy who needs a placement, would you consider an older girl, what about a siblings group? And every time I say no, every time I answer that we cannot accommodate a child, a little bit of me feels like dying inside.

I think back at Holly, at how she plainly said I made her feel sad, at the many times she told me she didn’t like me, and at how she never kissed me goodnight. My memories are filled with kicks, growls, and shouts. But there is no hostility or resentment from my side.

The day she returned to mum, I went to drop her off together with my son Ben. Holly was first glad to be outside the house, and then excited when she found out we were waiting for mum. And when mum entered the room, nothing else mattered anymore. Certainly, not me, nor Ben.

Ben and I stared at her walking away with mum. Holly didn’t wave goodbye, didn’t kiss us, didn’t hug us. She just looked up at her mum and asked in a joyful voice that I don’t recall she ever used with us Can I sleep in your bed tonight?

I stood there tall and brave for my son. The further away Holly walked, the closer I felt like screaming at mum Please, don’t fuck it up. That was also the moment I realised how much I loved Holly, how much she became part of our family, and how much each of us learnt from her.

My son Ben, my husband Diego and I, we all carry memories of our time with Holly. These memories will be in our hearts forever. Our time with Holly changed us, made us somehow better people, a better family. And our memories are a testament to it.

But I cannot fail to see all the pain that these memories are made of, Holly’s pain and ours. I wonder which of these memories will stay with Holly, if she will think of her life with us from time to time, if one day she will forgive me for all the sadness I caused her, and if she will be able to let go of all the anger she brings with her everywhere.

I sometimes glance at that picture on the window sill. She looks gorgeous, happy and without a worry in the world. And I know that’s exactly how I want to remember her.

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  1. Tom 23rd June 2017 Reply
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