- What I have fondly come to think of as my re-boot into Melbourne life is only 2 weeks, 1 day away, when I will have a permanent abode.
- I was reminded very appropriately yesterday why I named this blog as I did (and why it's taken a rather different path than the one it started on) when I attended the state conference of the Australian Greens Victoria
- I have so many blogs in my reader tagged for me to get back to and comment on... there are so many interesting issues floating at the moment!
- I've managed to be quite social, all things considered, over the past month and have managed to catch up with at least a friend a week (despite my sub-par energy at some of those catch ups, I'm still proud I made it and could form sentances... mostly)
- I love my mother desperately and am missing her... almost as much as I miss my dog, who is currently living with my parents until we get into the house
- Being in Collingwood last night made me physically yearn for my old life, and I had to stop myself crying (I'm so not a crier) when I realised how different my life could have been over the past two years... I just miss my old life so much. I didn't want to give it up, or move on, and mostly I can accept where I am now and see it as such an improvement, but last night it just hit me in the chest and I could hardly breathe
- I'm researching and embarking on a potentially huge new aspect to my life and am both terrified and excited about it
My position essentially boils down to a few salient points. I'm about to have a home, which is only possible by very lucky circumstances considering I don't work full time, so we really have 1 breadwinner and huge medical bills thanks to my health. This home offers more room than we really need right now, and a stability I've only imagined about for a long time. The foster care system in this country is overburdened (that's a polite way of saying it's pretty stuffed). Existing carers are almost all getting to the stage where retirement should be on the cards, not taking on more and more children. Plenty of people complain about support, opportunities and hurdles faced by kids let down by the system or not-so-great parents. We can all see what it does to these kids, and to society. But not many of us are putting our hands up to actually help.
I really don't know if I can foster a child. I'm not sure I've got it in me. I'm not sure Himself has it in him. I'm not sure if our relationship has the potential to weather it. But I do know that I believe it takes a village to raise a child. We're all disconnected, and for many mothers and families when crisis hits, often through no fault of their own, or through endemic poverty, or an addiction that they receive no support in beating, everything falls apart. I might not be able to help by offering a more permanent or stable home to any of the kids who are caught up in all this, but I can provide respite care that means more foster families can get some time off, help maintain the balance in their own frantic homes, or be a part of a more extended network for these children.
My family on both my parent's sides have some pretty significant issues with alcohol abuse. My father was raised in a home with alcohol and violence, and of his (plentiful) siblings, some have gone on to recreate this upbringing in their own families as adults. Luckily for some of these kids (my cousins), they've been able to tap in to support (or at least received love and attention) from some of their other aunts, uncles and cousins. I can see how, for some of them, this has been a lifeline. It's meant respite from alcoholic parents, time with kids their own age, getting taken for holidays once every few years. But what about the kids who don't have that? They might be in abusive situations, they might be subject to neglect, they might have developmental delays or behavioural problems. And there is no-one there for them. Not only that, there is not even an aspect of their life that shows them it doesn't have to be this way. Their situation is not a given, it's not the standard operating procedure. They can grow up and never really see that there are choices, or that there is another way to live.
Some kids need foster care for permanent homes, some need a chance for their family to get put together again, some just need time out of a harmful (or potentially harmful) situation. There are amazing people who open their doors every day, trying to help these kids. I'm not sure if I could be one of them. Be that primary care giver for kids who clearly need so much. I do know that the least I can do is support those families who can. Or mentor a kid who is in foster care and become a wider person in their support network. So I did the tough bit. I raised it with Himself, who was damn supportive, sent away for more info and spoke to an agency about what is involved, how it works and where we might go to from here.