Saturday, 7 November 2015

The lies that are told to foster children

When I was told that my Mother was going to have to go into hospital "for a few weeks" I believed what I was told. Why shouldn't I? I was only 14 years old and even I had started to notice that she wasn't well. Nothing was said to make me believe that my time in foster care was going to be anything more than a few weeks duration and I was happy to pay that price if it meant she could receive the treatment she needed.

But I soon realised that I hadn't been told the truth. Of course I had no medical training whatsoever but even I could tell that each time I visited the hospital she was worse than the time before. She wasn't making any progress that I could see and there didn't seem to be anybody at the hospital who could answer my questions.

After about a month I began to notice that she didn't immediately recognise me when I visited her and that her memories of our life together after my Father had died were slowly but steadily disappearing from her mind. I can remember being quite frightened - I didn't know what to do or who to ask for help. All my foster parents used to say was that, "The doctor's know what they are doing."

I started taking in photographs of important events from her life. Things like the photo taken when she got engaged and the photos of her wedding. But soon she would just glance at them in the way you might look at the photos of somebody you didn't know. I used to tell her who all the people were but she didn't seem either interested or bothered.

I feel quite ashamed now but once she didn't recognise me it didn't seem worth visiting her every week and gradually my visits became once a fortnight and then once a month. I was getting used to living with my foster parents and in my heart I think I knew that Mum was never going to be well enough to come home. I was also getting old enough to start planning my own life and common sense told me that it wasn't going to involve her however much I wanted it to.

My home - that was another set of lies I was told. The little rented house we used to live in wasn't that far from my foster home and as I still had my key I was able to get in. Quite suddenly somebody decided that it wasn't going to be our home any longer and everything that we owned that was still in the house was packed up and sent to my paternal grandparents in Yorkshire. I wasn't told this of course - I was told that it had been put into storage locally and I could have it all back when Mum was better.

The months and then the years drifted past but nobody seemed bothered about telling me the whole truth - they just let me work it out for myself. Mum lasted 8 years in the hospital and it was only after she died that I found out what had been wrong with her. It was also then when the boxes containing so much of our life together were returned to me.

I have been worried about telling this part of my life history. But I have told it as I remember it. Perhaps the social workers and my foster parents hadn't been told the truth either. I'm guessing that I will never know the complete story now but it seems strange that a few weeks in hospital became 8 years.

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