My advocacy journey started ,as a child who fostered 🌟updated15/5/2019 read an inspiring story about advocacy in my family this week
I’m co blogging for harbour fostering today to give insight into how being a child who fosters can have an impact on you in adult hood , and how advocacy has ,and is shaping my life💙and my children’s lives .
How my journey began
when I as little around 7/8 years old there was a boy in my class named John , he was the only ethnic child in our school , he had an infectious laugh and excellent sense of humour, as we became friends I learnt more of his story , origionally brought here from Africa by his father , as he mum had died, he was fostered by his sister , John was in no way shape or form dual heritage, yet his so called father and sister were white! So his origin was always a little hazy , I recall there was turmoil within his family, and John was in need of emergency respite care, and at that age in my mind I thought he can live with us , so I invited him to!
This marks the very start of my parents fostering career , as a family we welcomed John and he stayed intermittently until he was around 11 years old ,until it was no longer needed,John stayed in our lives throughout his teens and into early adulthood our home was his and he would regularly visit to busk for extra pocket money ,my parents supported John into independent living in later years .
I think this was the reason why my parents explored the idea of fostering such a simple act of kindness ignited something in them and us as a family years later, they then later created their own fostering service , during the years of being a child who fostered , my brother and I welcomed the idea and I feel it benefitted us hugely , in early years advocacy isn’t something you don’t think about, but looking back we took part in so many children’s journeys and as a family we really benefitted, it shaped who we became to open your home and hearts to children in need of a safe place, and protection is the greatest gift to give a child .
We were investing in them and expecting nothing in return from them , we have fostered many many children as a family and remember them all fondly , your part of their journey into adulthood , perhaps they have a traumatic start, and as advocates and carers you can’t take that away but you can start to rebuild, earn trust and create a new normal that’s stable , every child deserves the chance to feel safe, protected and have self worth and that was the foundation of the fostering service we all took part in for 16 years ,advocating and protecting children , it became an instinct for myself to live my life this way ,be transparent in my approach and value every child , the personal rewards of this far exceed any career ladder .
Advocacy for myself became transferable from the fostering side of things and the vulnerability of children needing appropriate adults, to disabilities and special needs when I had my own child with a complex diagnosis, as although, I will always class myself as an advocate for children in need and safeguarding is always at the forefront , I’m now transferring those skills to advocate for invisible disabilities and the vulnerability of those with special needs across the spectrum , the need is different it’s a health need ,but the ethics remain , am I doing the right thing for my child? Is this going to benefit long term? Could I be identifying more? Am I being transparent? How can I contribute to supporting and raising awareness for other families also.
My sons disabilities are life long and having been an advocate for most of my life I’m certain I can be the best advocate for him .
Being a child who fostered taught me from a young age to be grateful for my life situation and to listen to others, be selfless, it gave me an inner compass for what’s morally right and a courage to be brave for others , many life skills I have taken into adulthood , to believe in yourself and others, it’s ok to fail , it’s ok to admit defeat, it marks learning and most important of all everybody is equal and anything is possible if you are flexiable in thought .
Advocacy, I’m proud to say has transferred onto my children , since birth they have been very active in my participation within the fostering service ,and at 4 years old my own daughter asked me when her forever mummy and daddy where coming? , she viewed herself as a child we were helping, but also as equal to the children she had been around we were working with at support events , so advocacy is a gift we have transferred into our children from our experiences and life choices .
Both our children are excellent advocates for special needs and neurodiversity in a world that’s more diverse than ever before, I’m just so glad they have instilled in them at such a young age , for it’s only in practice that children can truly adopt this as it’s a way of life .
I feel being a child who fostered truly has shaped me as a person and given me the skills to now advocate for my son, and I have started a movement to raise awareness for invisible disabilities through born anxious an organic , label free awareness clothing label that gives back to local charities and raises awareness , an army of support is required for children with disabilities and their parents ,siblings and caregivers and the only way to do this is to spread our be kind message and build our army .
I wanted to update this as one of my children has blown me away this week. My son lorcan attends mainstream school in year 7 he is 12 years old, I have always encouraged my children to advocate for those not able to do do for themselves, but it's just so heart warming when they are put to the test in a situation and you can see proof that they can and will advocate. Without adult prompting and its in fact their choice to you so, it is engrained in who they are. And it just makes me so proud to think the choices I have made have influenced my children and there as fierce as I am when it comes to this.
My son had finished school yesterday and while walking to the pick up point on school grounds, in front of him where three or four bigger boys they we're teasing another lad, took his ball, kicked it on the roof and spat at him, he had learning difficulties and was alone, my son without thinking at all ,he had shouted swear words and told the boys to leave him alone, the boys turned on Lorcan and made comment to him being so small and playing brave against them,My sons reply was no your bully's ,I don't care if you hurt me you leave him alone, with that the other boy shouted to the group, yeh leave me alone spat back, and ran away.
Lorcan also ran just to get in a visible area, and I'm so proud of him. He stood up, he made a stand and encouraged someone else to stand up, when I collected him he was shaken and a bit worried, I warned him for swearing, but inside I was happy he did it showed strength, the situation angered him he wanted to change it, and he did❤️the world needs more if this, how many other kids would have just kept quiet in that situation?
I spoke with lorcan after as I wanted to hear how it made him feel, he said I told them my brothers disabled,Your bullies it's really uncool, he then went on to say he didn't care what people thought he will stand up and say everytime and for this I just think what an amazing human being to feel so strongly at such a young age not just for his brother but for everyone who is vulnerable 💙
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