No Such Word as Can't?

I must admit I felt guilty and a little bit naughty when I first approached social services about adopting OB.  There's a stereotype of the foster carer who simply can't give up a child they've looked after that I don't really want to fall into.  After all, I have given OB up once already, so I feel like I've more or less proved that I can.  The truth at this point is that I simply don't want to.

And I think that's the truth about a lot of things we say "can't" do, especially those things we feel like we emotionally can't do.  Perhaps there are some things we physically can't do.  I might have said that a person who is paralysed "can't" do the London Marathon, but then Claire Lomas has blown that out of the water recently!

Seriously though, there are some things that are out of our reach, and I'm not one of those who believes that with positive thinking we can achieve anything we want.  But I do think that the emotional "can't" isn't as powerful as it seems.

Many people have said to me since I began fostering that they could never do that because they'd get too attached - they'd not be able to give the child up at the end.  But is that really true?  Surely we can overcome our emotional can'ts.  If social services had said I wasn't allowed to adopt OB, what would I have done?  Run away with him to a foreign country?  Of course not!  I would have done what was necessary - I would have given him up, regardless of the pain and disappointment I would have felt.

I am thankful that I have rarely, if ever, experienced true suffering.  When I hear stories of people who have gone through dreadful tragedies or terrible illnesses I often wonder how these people manage to get up in the morning, how they manage to keep breathing and putting one foot in front of the other, and yet most of the time, they do.

No, when we say "can't" about an emotional decision, what we are so often saying is that we don't want to.  We don't want to make ourselves vulnerable.  We don't want to open ourselves to the sort of pain that might result from our actions.  We don't want to have to see if we've got what it takes to push through and come out of the other side intact.

It's Foster Care Fortnight right now, and new foster families are desperately needed.  If you have ever thought about fostering and then decided that you "can't", then please, please reconsider.  Motivated by the thought of the immense difference you could make in a child's life, can you take hold of your emotions so that you are in charge of them instead of them being in charge of you?

Because if you do that, what you will probably find is that you can.  You can make the tough decisions.  You can do what's right even when it's hard.  You can do whatever it takes.  And, most importantly, you can be the person that changes someone's life forever.


  1. As someone who has taken a few first steps into the process of fostering and also feeling somewhat qualified to comment on the true suffering bit too I guess the diference is that true suffering is rarely due to choice we have consciously made. Fostering is, but once you've made the decision, you then have professionals asking you on what seems like a too regular basis - ARE YOU SURE??? Well, I thought I was, but now maybe not so yes? No? I think it was the logistics of the training which is ultimately put me off. Which is a bit sad really as I know I have coped with suffering which extended much further beyond the stress of logistics. At the same time, in hindsight I think although the logistics thing was my trigger point to pull out of the process, I am settled with my decision to prioritise my own children for now. I say for now because I still believe that we as a family have a lot to offer. Am so proud of you - for many reasons, which I will share with you on Wednesday. Don't forget the tissues! xx

    1. I hope you know that this wasn't a comment on your experience!! Having said that, I admire you for the decision you took for you and your family about fostering. It wasn't so much of a "can't" as it was a "shouldn't". And you are an excellent example of a person who chooses "can" on a regular basis, even when "can't" might seem like an easier option xx


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