I am a child who fosters, but I am not a child.
Only mum and dad think of me that way.
They look after children who cannot live at home.
I thought it would be great at first; someone else to talk to and do things with.
Someone we could help to know what normal family life is.
It started OK.
Now, I feel like I have to fight to be noticed.
Sometimes I feel like the forgotten child.
Mum and dad spend all of their time talking about and responding to the child.
I can see that the child knows it too.
They smile at me whenever mum or dad does something for them.
Like I am the competition in some game they are playing.
And they’re still not satisfied. They want more and more. They have to win.
They get into my things as well. Nothing’s off-limits to them.
Mum and dad don’t even punish them!
They say the child does it because their needs weren’t met at home;
That their parents had problems that got in the way of caring for the child.
That they need consistent care from accessible, responsive, and emotionally-connected adults.
That they need adults who understand them and respond to their experience.
Well, I still need that too.
I need my mum and dad to be there for me without me having to ask; to say the words that show that they understand what is happening for me and our family right now; to show that my needs are important without me having to explain them; and to sit with me and experience what I am feeling.
I need care too.
I want to help my parents, and the child.
I am not a bad person.
It just needs to be fair.
By Colby Pearce
I am a practising Clinical Psychologist with twenty-seven years’ experience working with children and young people recovering from abuse and neglect, and those who care for and have a caring concern for them. I am also an author and educator in trauma-informed, therapeutic caregiving. My programs are implemented in Australia and Ireland, and I am well-known for offering practical and accessible guidance for caregivers and professionals alike.