After a few months in the children’s home, I was outside playing when one of the staff came to me and said, “There’s someone here to see you.” I had watched other children having visitors, parents and siblings, aunts and uncles, but it was the first time anyone had come to visit me. I was led into a playroom, off from the tv lounge and there sat Sylvie’s eldest daughter, Gina.
She smiled broadly and gave me a hug but I didn’t know what to say. She had left home when I was only two, and having three children of her own and had been busy taking care of them. Consequently we hadn’t been terribly close.
It would transpire that she hadn’t known about my being in care, having been fobbed off with “Oh, she’s at school,” or “She’s in town with Lily.” Gina had only found out when Sylvie could no longer hide the truth and had to tell her where I was. Gina had gone mad and insisted that I be bought home, stating that if Sylvie didn’t want me she would take me home herself.
A few days later I was to receive my second visitors. Sylvie and Larry had arrived and were waiting in the dining room for me, ready to take me home. I have to admit that the news that I was going home did not fill me with dread or horror. I think that in my naïve, young mind I imagined that life was going to continue in the way it had the past few months, that this is how life was now. It just seemed normal to me that my family would have missed me and would be glad to have me home.
There was no ceremony to my return home, it was a though I’d never been away. There was no indication that I’d been missed or that they were happy to see me. Within days the old regime was restored and it was sinking in that I had returned to exactly the same situation I had left several months before.
In recent times I have had reason to recall my feelings after my return home. A few years ago, when we moved to the country, my husband and I were invited by our new neighbours to a dinner party, along with another set of neighbours, a couple who were foster parents.
They had talked about their latest foster children, a brother and sister, and although they didn’t go into detail, they spoke of them coming from a poor housing area and living in a family with ‘difficult circumstances.’ They were a pompous couple and spoke with an air of smugness that they could ‘take the children away from it all and show them how decent people live- if only for a short time.’
The host of the dinner party was quite an opinionated and straight talking man and immediately exclaimed, “Well it’s all well and good for you, but as I see it, it’s like getting a kick in the goolies twice over!”
“You get the first kick from living a shit life. Then you get taken away to a big house in the country, with horses and big four wheel drive cars and going to the nice little village school. Then just when you’ve been given a taste of the nicer things in life, you have to go back to your old life and things must seem worse than ever. Like I said, like getting kicked in the goolies twice over!”
Everyone else present had seemed stunned by his opinion but it was to strike a chord deep within me. It perfectly summed up my feelings soon after my return home. Having gone from the hard work, physical and mental abuse, I had been shown a different side of life, kindness and freedom and privileges.
Then to have it all taken away again and be returned to my previous life, I could agree entirely;
‘It was like being kicked in the goolies twice over!’