8. The foster carers
' In my opinion it was a fun day for the child we foster. As he is only two years old he would not understand anything else about it.'
Comment from a foster carer
' We work as a team and we were disappointed we could not both come. Keeping the numbers down was a factor but we would have liked to able to talk it over afterwards. Also our child asked why we didn't both come as she's used to us going together places. She enjoyed the day but was very tired afterwards. There has been interest expressed in her so we are pleased.'
Comment from a foster carer
8.1 Fewer of the foster carers completed the feedback forms than the other people involved. About a quarter of foster carers responded to the written feedback. I interviewed five in their own homes and was able to have in depth discussion about their views of the process and the impact on the children. I also talked with foster carers at the Adoption Exchange event. Foster carers were more inclined to be critical in a discussion than when completing the feedback forms.
8.2 Foster carers had the most mixed views about the event, some admitted they had been opposed to it at the beginning but had warmed to the process when they had the chance to talk with their social worker and appreciated how well the event was organised.
8.3 The main anxiety on the part of foster carers was the potential for upsetting particularly the older children. One foster carer said they would not be willing to bring an older child if they were caring for one in the future as they felt the child would feel they were being 'selected.'
8.4 Another family felt that preparation was the key and that the event had focused their child's social worker into talking with him about his future which they believed was long overdue.
8.5 All the foster carers I met were unhappy that both of them could not come, they appreciated the need to keep numbers of adults down but two suggested having fewer volunteers and asking foster carers to help out with catering etc. They thought the children would be pleased to see them joining and having some responsibility and this could improve their sense of security on the day. Some foster carers had found the day uncomfortable they were advised to 'hang back' and let the prospective adopters play with the children which they recognised as appropriate but for some children confusing.
8.6 Foster carers thought on the whole the venue was good but there were not enough quiet spaces. One foster carer thought each family should have a 'recognised base' where the child could return to for a snack or a drink or a cuddle. They suggested each family having a brightly coloured picnic blanket with camping chairs for the adults. The children could bring a favorite cuddly toy to sit on the blanket whilst they were away playing.
8.7 The fancy dress aspect of the party produced conflicting opinions from carers. Some were very opposed on the grounds that the prospective adopters should be dressed as 'real' people and not hiding in a costume. They also pointed out that for some children this could be frightening and even bring back unhappy memories. Several foster carers also thought that the children should not arrive in fancy dress but could dress up if they wished later.
8.8 Other foster carers welcomed the fancy dress as adding to party atmosphere and making it fun for the children. They felt that by keeping the 'event light' there was less risk to the children's emotions if they were not 'chosen'. Adults in fancy dress protected the children from feeling this was a formal process like school or a Children's Hearing.
8.9 The views of the foster carers reflect at times diverse views but were all firmly rooted in what is best in their view for the child. The research from the University of Bristol found that in placing children for adoption;
'The role of the foster carer during the introductions and transition was crucial. The majority of foster carers (61%) were welcoming. About 30% of foster carers were less helpful and obstructed the move. Those adoptive families who had not been supported by the foster carer in the transition were more likely to be families where the child had left home earlier and the adoption had been less secure.'