For Foster Care Fortnight 2019, Adam Bennett shares his experience of family and relationships
Hi there, Adam here. I wanted to say a few things to you during Foster Care Fortnight.
For those who aren’t sure what Foster Care Fortnight is, it’s about raising awareness of foster care and care experience in general to the wider population. It is an opportunity to talk about how people can become foster carers and a chance to celebrate foster families.
Foster Care Fortnight is not exclusively for people who have been in foster care, as I’ll explain, because I think the most important part in anyone’s lives are relationships.
For me that relationship is with my foster family.
I don’t think anyone can take away from how daunting it is to turn up to someone’s house you’ve never met before and try to build a family around that dynamic.
Sometimes it does work and sometimes it doesn’t. But if you can get love and connections right from day one, then it can work.
That doesn’t have to be in foster care, or care in general, but in life. I’m sure we can all think of someone hugely important in our lives, that if we remember what is was like when we first met them, it’s hugely different now.
It’s these connections that make us beautifully human, love is what pushes our lives forward and especially love to those close to us.
Family is a strange word to me as I see it as an always evolving thing, I really do get to decide who my friends are and who my family are. I have my foster dad and his brother and partner, my foster grandparents.
It really starts to grow arms and legs if you include the boys who have stayed with me and moved on, some to have a family of their own, so now I have foster nephews (which I’m totally not old enough to have).
I think my core family are my real rock; my foster dad, my three foster brothers and two very, very, very cute foster French bulldogs – I would like to emphasise again just how adorable the dogs are, as my friends like to constantly remind me.
In my time in foster care I have experienced different people coming to live with us, and I was speaking to a friend last week about how many brothers I have – and I would consider them all my brothers.
The bond we made, despite how short or how long, means a huge amount to me and not having any of them in my life means quite a lot to me. I love them all, despite probably not saying it to them often enough.
I think we’ve only started to hear how important loving relationships can be to all of us, especially in care. I think we hide behind lots of words that are love in disguise.
New families and new environments work when we love and care for each other.
I will blatantly steal this quote from my foster dad but it’s really beautiful:
“The Oxford dictionary should re-define family to mean a group of people who love and care for each other.”
What makes my relationship so special with my foster dad is not just that he’s an amazing, compassionate human being, but he has given so much of his life not just to me, but to all the boys he has cared for. But the fact that it is my family, my home, the people I love.
My brothers are normal teenagers, they moan a lot, they smell sometimes and they are all grumpy but I love them for that, I think we are all different people but care so much about each other.
As I sit hear writing this listening to a slightly strange mix of 80s music and some occasional Britney Spears greatest hits, I know that the Care Review needs to hear from more people with experience of foster care, and people who have had completely different experiences.
It is so important that we never stop listening as a review and never stop listening as a society to the important role that relationships play in our lives.
The relationships that matter so much to us.
About the author
Adam Bennett is co-chair of the Independent Care Review’s Health and Wellbeing work group.
Adam recently graduated from the University of Edinburgh and is a member of the Fostering Network’s Young Champions Group.
Adam was in foster care for seven years, lasting through his later high school and university life.
Adam also sits on the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce, which has been jointly commissioned by the Scottish Government and COSLA.
In his spare time he loves writing music and learning new things.