I’m a trans foster carer. One big change over quarantine is although I’d had new young people come to stay with me, briefly, as an emergency carer, I haven’t been able to offer them a reassuring hug or to be physically close – not even sitting together on the sofa. This new distance has made things feel different to me.
I wrote this about looking after one young person in such a strange, distant manner, in one’s own home.
1 hour ago I said goodbye. I saw you put your bags in a stranger’s car.
I saw your upset, I saw your tears, I saw your confusion.
I cried too when I got inside.
2 hours ago that stranger rang you. ‘Hi, I’m coming to pick you up soon to take you to your new carer’s home…’
I saw your tears. Big tears. Big tears infront of me, another stranger.
I can’t comfort you except with my words. You sit on my sofa, I sit on the floor.
Thinking. Worried. Distressed. Me, as well as you.
4 hours ago you got in from work. Keeping that constant was a good choice amongst the chaos.
You brought more belongings with you. ‘My whole life is in these bags’ you said.
You worked your hours waiting for a call from a social worker so they could tell you your options.
You could sign yourself into care, I remind you. You have enough years behind you.
8 hours ago I took you to the bus stop for work.
Before you left we went over what is likely to happen today.
A reminder, a reassurance, I hope.
That bruise on your face still looks sore.
16 hours ago you went to bed for the second time in a stranger’s home.
I know you didn’t sleep well and I heard your sobbing.
I heard your anguish as you chat to your boyfriend.
I can’t comfort you though, except through the door.
No comfort really.
21 hours ago you got ‘home’ from work. A brave choice to go in given your upset.
You’ve brought some belongings collected from your home, I make you wash and shower in mine.
A social worker who you’ll never meet rings you to check you have all you need.
‘How are you feeling today after last night?’
You plead with me. ‘Don’t let them send me home’. ‘I won’t’ I reassure.
29 hours ago you woke up in a new room, with bedding that smells strange to you.
With pictures and toys that aren’t yours. With cats’ bells jangling round the house.
You gingerly venture out to chat a little.
I know you didn’t sleep. I can see it in your eyes and hear it in your voice.
36 hours ago in the middle of the night the police brought you to mine.
I know your ‘story’. The officer didn’t stay long.
I saw you shake. I saw you shiver. I heard the pain in your voice.
But I could not put my arm around your shoulder.
Instead, I sat. I sat and listened to your questions, your outrage, your hurt, and your solitude.
You feel let down and alone.
You’re worried about ‘coming into care’, I know, too.
I give you a set of clothes to wear to bed, toothbrush, towel, and hairbrush, but you’ve just lost everything.
36.5 hours ago I said yes to the question:
‘Can you take a girl tonight?’
Alex Taylor (He/him)
Foster carer, Bristol City Council