Olivia* was just 10 years old when she came to live with her foster parent, Jackie. Today, five years on from being taken into care, Olivia reflects on her emotional journey of fear, anger, love and now happiness, living with her foster carer Jackie.
Jackie has provided Olivia with a sense of belonging and given her the stability, love, care, nurture and inspiration she’s needed to thrive. Over the years, we’ve watched Olivia grow in confidence and aspire for a great future.
When I moved to Jackie’s house, I felt scared, sad, confused, anxious and alone. I had a tight knot in my belly and felt sick. I had so many questions going around in my mind, like ‘what did I do so wrong?’ and ‘was it all my fault?’.
I thought they had put me in the middle of nowhere and that the only thing to do was to talk to the sheep. I really didn’t like living with Jackie at first and would run away. I ran because I was angry; angry at Jackie and the people who took me away from my little sister, Lola*, but even angrier at myself for doing the things I did. But Jackie always came after me.
I didn’t like rules or boundaries. In fact, most the time I would try to break them. When I knew it was bedtime, I screamed the house down and refused to go to sleep. I always thought I could get my own way with Jackie, but soon found that I could not.
I refused to go to school because I hated that I wasn’t going home to my sister, but Jackie still made me go. My behaviour at school was bad and I was always rude to my teachers. Jackie often received phone calls from school telling her how bad the day had gone. I didn’t stay in my lessons very much, and when I did stay, I would misbehave.
I didn’t get on with male teachers and would ignore them, or worse, throw chairs at them. I hated talking to the teachers because they would always say things like, “I know how you feel”. No, they did not. I also didn’t get on with other students and would just be mean to them. Jackie had to be very patient with me.
Jackie always tried to talk to me about school and the way I treated people. She encouraged me to try my best and would say, “if you stay in your lessons long enough, you may just like it”. She asked me to talk to my teachers if I found the work difficult, but I always hated talking to people about my feelings.
Jackie understood how I felt and listened to my opinion about things. I never trusted anyone with anything. Then gradually, I started to talk to Jackie about different things and school started to get a bit better. I stayed in more lessons.
Whenever I had homework, Jackie would sit down and help me with it. She also arranged for me to have some 1 to 1 sessions with one of my male teachers. This really helped me to trust male teachers more and after a bit of time, I started to talk to other students too.
If I found my work hard, I would still just walk out of class and say, “I can’t do it”. But once I realised walking out didn’t get me anywhere, I began to change my ways, like my behaviour and my attitude. I always try my very best on my work and actually really like being at school now. It can be fun sometimes. I still get things wrong – but that’s ok.
Me and Jackie live on our own, with our two dogs, Molly and Cassie, ducks and chickens. I like it because it’s just us and our pets. When I’m feeling sad, I like to talk to Cassie and Molly.
I do lots of things with Jackie’s family, like shopping, going to the circus, or being treated to afternoon tea. I call Jackie’s mum ‘Nan’ because she is like a nan to me. When I talk about Jackie’s daughters, I call them my foster sisters – we get on really well and I sometimes stay at their homes.
My local authority nurse once asked me, “If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?”
I responded, “I would not want anything because I already have everything I need with Jackie and her family”.
Over the past few years, Jackie has given me so much confidence and self-esteem. She’s helped me through the tough times, like contact with my birth family. Whenever it’s coming up, my behaviour always changes towards Jackie and my teachers, but she spends a lot of time with me and we go everywhere together.
Jackie took me on holiday abroad last year, we went to Turkey and it was amazing. I’m now planning on going to college to study Travel and Tourism, as I want to be an Air Hostess. Without Jackie by my side, I would never have got to where I am today.
I never, ever thought that I would have a good life, but Jackie has made my life great. She’s taught me a lot of life skills, like cleaning, cooking, budgeting and personal hygiene, as well as how to stay safe in the community, how to be caring towards other people and how not to have a paddy when things don’t go my way.
Jackie has made me a better person. She is the loveliest and kindest person I have ever come across and any child is lucky to have her in their life. I’ve never met someone who understands how I feel or gets me like she does and am so glad I came to live with Jackie. She makes me feel safe and loves me like I am one of her own. I never want to leave her. I don’t think I could live without her.
I am now head girl at school because my behaviour has improved over the last few years and I help other students with their behaviour. I have also passed my GCSE exams and have completed my bronze Duke of Edinburgh award. I have achieved more than I thought I would have a few years ago, as I never would have believed I could have achieved all the things I have.
I am very lucky to have Jackie by my side – she really is one of a kind.
There are thousands of children like Olivia, who need loving, nurturing foster parents. If you’d like to know what it takes to become a foster carer, then contact us today.
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