Fatima Whitbread and her life in care.


Fatima appeared in a channel 5 documentary this week, called ‘My secret past’. Here she talks about her early years and some of the trauma she experienced within the care system, before finally being adopted by the couple she has always called, mum and dad. She talks a lot about the emotional turmoil that children go through when they are – in their minds – abandoned.

Fatima felt unloved and unwanted and also confused as to why she didn’t have a mummy and she talks about gazing out of the window of a children’s home and getting her hopes up every time she saw a woman walking up the drive. She wanted the cleaning lady to take her, one of the staff members, anyone at all to call her own. This says a lot about the despair and the lonliness a child feels when taken away from their families, and even though the care system has come a long way since those days, the feelings that today’s children have must surely be exactly the same.

Fatima realises that social services these days pay a lot more attention to the emotional needs of children, but the more she researched, the more she found that these needs are not effectively being met. Children are still being placed in short term placements which means they get passed around and never have the chance to put down any roots. What is clear after seeing this documentary and reading the interviews, is that the UK still sadly lacks long term foster carers. I always plead with anyone who expresses an interest to start the ball rolling. Phone your local council and start the process. Once that starts, you may as well see it through to the end, it costs you nothing but time and you learn a great deal about yourself. Even after you are finally passed as a carer, you still don’t have to commit at that time, but at least you’ll have everything in place for when you feel the time is right.

If you are interested in fostering, please feel free to ask me any questions. Check out your local authority’s web site under fostering and adoption or search for ‘The fostering network’, they have a wealth of advice for anyone considering a career in foster care.