By Vicki O’Leary, Kinship carer
Where to start a blog about my life? They say the beginning is a very good place to start so let’s go back there. I’m an adoptee and have the most amazing parents. They were always extremely good role models when I was growing up. They worked hard and were very loving. That being said, later in my life when my granddaughter needed someone to love and care for her I couldn’t face the thought of her being adopted. Yes I had had a great experience but that doesn’t mean I wanted my grandchild to be adopted. I was around and she was mine.
Although, I had ‘done my time’ and had brought up my children I knew I could do this again and well frankly knew I had to do it again. I was afraid that social services would deem me and my husband not good enough, after all we had obviously failed somewhere. I mean, one of our children could not look after their child and had failed so we must have failed somewhere too? But, hang on, our other children are hard working adults all doing a wonderful job so can we really be to blame? At what age does your child need to take responsibility for their actions and when we do the parents stop being accountable?
My husband and I, with the support of our family stepped forward and said that we would care for our granddaughter full time. It wasn’t an easy process and the sheer stress of assessments, being in and out the court arena for two years was harrowing to say the least but thankfully we are a strong family with good friends. I was especially close to a kinship carer who lived locally. We became great friends and would meet up on Fridays and share evenings of wine and gossip, while she helped write our statements. We had to do it ourselves as we had run out of money and so had to self represent. Sadly, in a wicked turn of events I lost my sidekick and best friend a couple of years ago. I will forever be grateful that I knew her and for all the guidance and support she gave me.
In turn just as I had been helped I decided I was now in a position to help other kinship carers. I am a supporter of Grandparents Plus and the vital work that they do for all kinship carers and I am an administrator for a local and national online support group Kinship Foster Carers. In fact I am now one of the lucky ones who get to arrange Kinfest – an annual holiday for kinship carers.
Now five years on my little darling granddaughter has just started school and my dad has permanently moved into my house as he is now unable to live alone. Suddenly, this wonderful man who loved and cared for me now needs me to step up and tell him that it’s all going to be okay and that he can live with me. Yes this means more unexpected life adjustments – we have given up our living room to make it his bedroom which means the conservatory will now be the dining room and the dining room the living room. Who needs a conservatory anyway?
In a way it’s exciting. There will be four generations ranging from 5 to 88 living under one roof. My roof. And as I go from gloves on to cream my dads leg to putting my granddaughter’s hair in bunches for school I know that it’s all worthwhile and that I am not alone. I have my kinship friends and family, how could I ever feel alone? And I know that one day in the future my husband and I will do the things we have been planning and will be care free.