Kassie – TACT Care Leaver
When I was a teenager I thought I could take the world on. I was a hard, rebellious girl who would go down the wrong paths and felt everyone was against me, constantly on my back telling me what to do, or what not to do, and that included Lynda – my foster carer.
Looking back now I get embarrassed about who I was then and how I handled things. I have realised that when Lynda would pull back the reins on me it was for my own good, and now I am the person that she moulded me to be, a strong and independent woman that takes care of my family and is the best version of myself.
I went into care when I was six years old, because my biological mother couldn’t cope with having four children. By then my siblings and I had been through years of abuse mentally, physically, emotionally, and occasionally socially too. I remember being confined to my bedroom with cable ties on the window preventing us from opening them. It is a memory among many others. I am still learning new things about what happened during my early childhood. Even now at 29 years of age, I still don’t know the full story.
I am thankful that social services took me away from where I suffered the most confusing, rollercoaster childhood. I wouldn’t be who I am today – a loving mother to three beautiful children, if they had not made that decision.
TACT placed me with Lynda – my last foster carer, and I lived with her for seven years, from 2000 to 2007. I continue to this day to have a really close bond with her and benefit from her support. I have been out of the care system for 12 years and she still helps me and my little family. In the last few years I moved to live in the same village as her. My children call Lynda Nanna. She takes them for days out, spoils them rotten for Christmas and birthdays, and even takes them on holiday. The best thing they get from her is all her love and care.
I refer to Lynda as my mam when I talk to people, but I call her Lynda when I am talking to her. My children have asked why I call her Lynda and so I have explained to them that my mammy wasn’t very nice to me so I went to live with Nanna, and so they can call her Nanna. My children absolutely adore her, and I am so grateful for that.
Becoming a mother is the best thing that has happened to me; I absolutely cherish my children and I would never ever want them to experience the childhood that I had. I sometimes fear that they might be taken off me, but then I realise I am absolutely nothing like my biological mother, and that brings me happiness. It is all due to the fact that TACT placed me with a great foster carer when I was 10 years old, and I am so fortunate to continue to receive love and care from her.
In addition to being a mum I am a qualified chef, and a qualified child practitioner at level 3. I have been accepted to undertake a foundation degree in social care studies, but circumstances are not quite right at the moment to pursue that. Hopefully in the future I will take up the course place so I can be a positive role model for children in foster care. Nobody understands what a child in care is going through more than an adult that has been through it and come out a better person.
Knowing what I do now, my advice to foster carers would be to treat children like children, and treat teenagers like adults, but within reason. It is important to reign young people in when you feel they are riding a slippery slope in a negative direction. But remember that they still have to gain independence in the near future. Most of all give them the love and care they need, and nurture them to become great adults. I am living proof of the power of love and nurture, and it’s all down to having the right foster carer.