When we look for the presence of Faith in the world of fostering we find that it’s present – in our, in social work colleagues, in foster carers and most evidently in the children and young people we look after. In our professional life, we have enjoyed encounters with colleagues and clients from many different faiths – Sikh, Muslim, Mormon, Coptic Christians and one memorable family of Wiccans!
For children entering into care, having to leave your family and friends, frequently at a point of crisis with those around you in emotional upheaval, not ready for separation with things left unsaid to those close to you, your important belongings and people left behind – this is a huge upheaval, almost akin to bereavement in the scale of its impact. At that critical moment, children are completely reliant on the quality of the helping professionals around them, their decision and their actions, trusting they have the child’s interests at heart and will do the best thing in a difficult situations. If that is not an act of ‘faith’ by children then what else is it?
There are articles of faith in many religions that can create personal dilemmas for us but we have also seen these dilemmas successfully coped with. For example, a Mormon carer supported a young teenager in her recovery from a heroin addiction and took her time to time to church where she could meet girls living different lives who acted as positive role models. When that young person sought a conclusion of her pregnancy, the foster carer’s deeply held pro-life view meant she could not in conscience support that determination. She did not pass judgement however, but cared for the young person right up until the procedure; that young woman remains in touch with the foster carer even now.