The Guardian is reporting on new legislation for England where foster children will be allowed to continue to have foster parents until the age of 21, up from 18 previously.
This is not an effective solution to the core problem of dealing with adulthood, and an exposé of comments from some ex foster-children shows this: for those of us who are lucky to have our parents, they remain still our parents, whether we’re four, fourteen or forty.
These pieces, especially the last one, highlight the fundamental letdown of foster parenting: it’s not full-on parenting.
Not in the sense that, after you turn 18, or 21, you still have a parental figure to turn to. They strike the message home essentially reminding us that even in your thirties and fourties, and beyond where lucky, you still look to your parents for comfort, for advice you trust, for a home when you need to get back on your own two feet, and for a sense of belonging when all else fades away.
Rights to extra fostering time will do little to help. I think once the foster child is 15, they should be given the independent right (not obligation) to ask to be adopted into a new family; the right for any foster parents the child designates to /offer/ to adopt; and the legal facilitations for this. Graeme Asher’s initial situation demonstrates the necessity – a mutual acceptance in heart, and a legal recognition of the bond formed, for the life ahead, is worth more than a few more years of institutional and free board and lodging.
For another step forward, maybe we could have some ex foster children on a permanent advisory committee to the foster system.