Waiting for the phone to ring when you're up for a new placement is definitely one of the most exciting things in fostering.

We're up for welcoming a new child into our home, in fact we're ready to welcome maybe two; a parent and child might be needing one of our beds - and a cot. Speaking of which we picked up a nice cot from a local charity furniture shop, it's pristine (but we gave it a good scrub anyway) and comes apart easily so it stores flat in the loft.

ho hum ...

Come on phone!

...do de do de dum...

...I know what I was going to say; phones don't ring as often as they used to do they? Not with all the texting we do instead.

When the landline does ring it's more often than not a cold call. I always try to be polite, what I say now is;

"I'm sorry but I'm expecting an important call, I hope you don't mind but I have to hang up."

It helps my performance now that it's true.

Blue Sky's placement team could call any minute of the day or night with the magic question;

"Would you be willing to take a child who..." followed by a sprinkling of details. I have always replied;

"Yes, but I'll double check with my partner". So I ring him at work, he's always said yes, so far, to any request, and I go back to the team with our yes.

After you've agreed they throw your hat into the ring with whichever local authority are taking the child into care, they usually get more than one offer either from different agencies or else their own team of foster carers.

Blue Sky send an email with every scrap of information they can get about the child.

I've found it generally takes about an hour before you get a second call. People are surprised how quick local authorities can be in choosing, but when you think about it they want that child fixed up asap.

Sometimes it's a "Thanks but no thanks". In other words the LA has placed the child with someone else. You get given a reason, usually it's to do with geography. Maybe the child needs to stay at the same school and the distance between your house and the school is a bit much.

I always feel a tiny pang when it's a "No". I'll be honest here, although I'm naturally disappointed having got to know the child slightly from their details and got to looking forward to being able to help them, I also can't help feel a bit hurt. Shouldn't do, I know, it's not a rejection of me at all, but I'm only human.

I'm the same when out driving and a car hoots. I always assume it must be me they're hooting at...

Come on phone...

I never, ever, EVER fail to be moved by the moment when a new child arrives. They get out of the social worker's car looking so frail and vulnerable, I want to sweep them up in my arms and promise that everything will be alright.

But I don't because a) sweeping up other people's children in your arms is not what foster parent do and b) you don't know everything will be alright. So instead you smile, introduce yourself and do little things that are hopefully comforting.

For example I always say; "Slip your shoes off in the hall, we'll sort out some slippers for you later, for the time being you're okay in your socks."

This might make me sound like a stickler, but actually it's a good trick to begin the process of the child feeling that this is a home for them, for however long they need it. Try it. Walk around you own home in your shoes or trainers; it doesn't feel quite so much like home.

I find in fostering you pick up all sorts of little dodges like that...


I'll shut up for the moment.

Oh and BTW everything is cool with the rest of the family. Speaking of whom I must remember to make sure they know they are just as important to me as ever.

But they know when I'm on my toes for a new placement.