I'm not really supposed to advertise to all and sundry that the children I look after are in foster care. I think it's more of an issue with older children who, I'm sure, would not want their business discussed in public like that, but it matters for little kids too.
For instance, a while ago I went to get my haircut. I didn't have the boys with me as my parents were visiting and had rashly offered to take them away for a little while so I could tame my mane. The hairdresser asked me what I did, of course, and as soon as she heard, she set off telling me about a neighbour of hers whose child had been taken into care. As the details of the story unfolded, it became pretty obvious that she was talking about NB. How glad I was that I had followed the confidentiality rules and told her nothing about the boys. Imagine if I had brought them with me! It's a small world and you never know what people know.
Anyway, I digress.
When I absorbed all the confidentiality information during training, I was confident that I would be good at all that, but I didn't reckon on the curiosity of random strangers in parks and supermarkets! It's not malicious curiosity at all, but more a natural reaction to seeing a cute baby in a pram or a trolley. So I often get asked perfectly natural questions which unfortunately pose something of a dilemma to me.
You see, questions about age and name are not so difficult - these are neutral questions. More awkward are the 'Is he your first?' types of questions, which thankfully eased off as OB got older. At Stay & Play sessions, other mums are more probing. It's amazing how often people want to discuss the details of their recent birth experiences and then ask you about yours!
I'm not a good enough liar to fabricate a believable back story, and nor should I, but one can only be evasive for so long before it becomes rude, so eventually I usually end up explaining that this is a looked after child.
Thankfully, as OB got older, the questioning lessened, but now I have a new situation. These days, when I go out, I'm usually pushing a twin buggy with two children who don't look enough like each other to be twins, but don't quite look different enough in age to be brothers.
Twin buggies, I have discovered, get a lot more attention and many more questions than ordinary prams. Conversations have a predictable pattern:
"What lovely boys!" So far so good.
Then, more uncertainly, "Are they ..... twins?"
Then I watch a trail of expressions across the faces in front of me. First of all comes a sort of satisfaction that they aren't twins - after all, the questioner suspected they couldn't be because they look so different, so it's good to have it confirmed. Then comes the realisation that if they aren't twins then they are probably brothers. And very close in age! And probably with different dads because look how dissimilar they are!!! Oh my word, what kind of woman is this?!?! Two babies by two different dads and they can't be a year apart!!!!!!
Ok, I know I'm exaggerating here. I'm sure most people aren't thinking that at all. But I can't help thinking that's what they are thinking!
So now, when asked if they are twins, I explain that they aren't even related and I'm just looking after them. I'm sure the questioners aren't that bothered really, but it makes me feel better about who I think they think I am! :)