A foster carer’s boundless heart is all I want for the Year 2023. At the start of each year, we submit ourselves to challenges. We are a few months in, but there is still time. We look for ways to be a better version of what we were in the previous year.
Along with this new beginning, we are all guilty of spamming the inboxes of family and friends with positive notes. I am no different, as you can see by my last year’s post, ‘The Past, The Present and A Fresh Start.’ With this post, I was extinguishing the flames of a different year and trying to light the fire of positivity for 2022.
This year (2023), just like Mariah Carey’s son ‘All I Want for Christmas’, all I want for the Year 2023 is a foster carer’s boundless heart. I want to develop the ability to love without restraints and stipulations. By love, I am not referring to those of my partner or loved ones, but that of the boundless love open to all that cross my path.
Damaged by Cathy Glass depicts the accounts of a foster carer’s boundless heart for a seven-year-old girl. Has genuinely moved me and motivated me to develop a spirit of understanding and openness.
Cathy Glass had 20 years of experience before hers and the young girl’s paths collided. This young girl was the most disturbed child Cathy had ever encountered. Yet, unknown to the young girl, she had found an angel worthy of her trust. Initiating the process of recovery and healing.
Fostering statistics in the UK
Foster carers play such an essential role in society, something I do not believe gets the coverage it deserves. A foster carer’s boundless heart nits together a system that tries to ensure each child can be safe and have the best opportunities in life.
Using published data for the UK, I produced the above images. The statistics show the care system on just one day of the year. The data for England, Northern Ireland and Wales were for 31 March 2022. And for Scotland on 31 July 2021.
There are around 98,000 children that live away from home. There are approximately 70,000 children who live with about 55,000 foster families across the UK each day. The ratio does not fit, as thousands of new foster families are needed yearly.
From published data, around 30,000 more children come into care over 12 months. And this is comparable to the numbers leaving the care system to return home, move in with another family member, live with new adoptive families, become subject to a special guardianship or residence order or move on to adult life.
Who is Cathy Glass
Cathy Glass which is her fictitious pseudonym name. This lady with abundant love had been a foster carer for over twenty years when writing her first fostering memoir, ‘Damaged’. She had a passion for writing. And had written short stories, articles, and poems for numerous magazines and newspapers. But, beyond her early days of writing, her inspiration for writing comes from fostering.
Cathy Glass always combined fostering with writing. Her routine of waking up early every morning to write before her family woke up: was similar to how great minds make time. She was a specialist foster carer, what you and I could consider ‘crème de la crème’.
In the foster carer world, she is called a level three carer. This implies that she would often look after children with complex needs or those with very challenging behaviour. During her fostering career, she has cared for over 150 children of all ages and backgrounds.
Cathy Glass had three children, two birth children and one adopted child. She is a special lady exemplifying a foster carer’s boundless heart.
Damaged – the tale of a foster carer’s boundless heart
Damage is a disturbing true story of a forgotten girl. It’s the story of a foster carer’s eternal soul, which unlocks a little girl’s darkest and most painful secrets. The angel foster carer is Cathy Glass, and the little girl is Jodie.
Cathy Glass tells the story of the relationship built between her and Jodie. Cathy, from the outset, before she had even met Jodie in the Social Services office, knew this was going to be her most challenging placement. But, as the case was being outlined to her, you saw a foster carer’s, boundless heart kick in.
Cathy knew turning this assignment down would consign Jodie to a residential care home. Which, from her perspective, was not suitable for an eight-year-old girl (she found out later she was seven years old). Jodie’s history of violence and aggressive behaviour had seen her have five carers in the space of four months. But, against a flowing negative character description, Cathy accepts Jodie. Cathy opted against her own inner fears and followed her heart.
Jodie would arrive and unleash terror on Cathy and her children, Adrian, Paula and Lucy. Jodie would greet them with kicks. She would display behaviour none of them had ever seen before. Her kids would later say that Jodie reminded them of scary Chucky.
Cathy would have to deal with many issues, such as Jodie smearing faeces around the house, self-harming, intense nightmares, and lashing physically and verbally. However, through this, Cathy’s patients and boundless heart will settle Jodie to allow her to begin revealing the unthinkable.
This foster carer’s boundless heart unlocked Jodie for the first time since being in her care. She started telling Cathy snippets of information, which alluded to her being sexually abused by her father. Each passing day brought more behavioural challenges, but she also disclosed more details of her abuse by her parents and others disguised as family members.
After interactions between Cathy and her contact at Social Services, it was apparent that Jodie’s parents were part of a paedophile ring. However, as Jodie had been passed from different Social Services case manager to another over the years, they had missed all the signs. Worrying was a casefile occupying two adult suitcases no one joined the dots.
Against Jodie’s uncooperative help with the police trying to build a case, Cathy tries to help Jodie to live everyday life as an eight-year-old would. Cathy tries to find her a school, which proves difficult as all the schools want to avoid such a bad case on their books. Cathy does eventually find a school for her. As Jodie got more comfortable, she would continue to reveal more information about her abuse.
The more Jodie disclosed, the more it took its toll on her. Finally, she would be diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). This disorder is a mental health condition. Those with DID have two or more separate personalities. These identities control a person’s behaviour at different times.
With Jodie shutting down, finally, Social Services realised Jodie needed help. She was placed in a specialist residential therapy home. Initially assigned to spend four years there. This was hard for Cathy, but she and her kids continued to visit Jodie. Evidence would come to light, and Jodie’s parents and the others in the paedophile ring would finally face justice for their horrifyingly wicked acts.
Unshakable Boundless Heart Against Torrential Feed of Negative Information
Individuals’ class is often revealed when they refuse to be deterred by negativity and instead remain committed to their values.
This is exemplified in a foster carer’s boundless heart and love. This is precisely what Cathy Glass displayed when she took in Jodie, a young girl with a traumatic past. From the moment Cathy received a call from Jill, her link worker. She knew that Jodie was a particular case that required her expertise and love to help her heal.
Despite the difficulties, she would face. Nevertheless, Cathy accepted the challenge, and below are some of the negative situations she had to contend with:
- Cathy had never attended a pre-placement meeting before. She was surprised by the number of people in attendance for Jodie’s case.
- Jodie had been in foster care for four months with five different carers.
- Jodie had been on the ‘at-risk’ register since birth due to her family’s history of drug use, alcoholism, and child abuse.
- Within hours of arriving at Cathy’s house, Jodie smeared faeces on her face and kicked one of Cathy’s children.
- Jodie had severe learning difficulties, delayed development, and required special needs attention.
- Jodie was not attending school and exhibited self-harming behaviours, including cutting herself.
- Jodie had come from a family environment where her siblings had also been taken away, and she had been molested by her parents.
Despite these challenges, Cathy remained committed to helping Jodie. Her unshakable boundless heart ensured that Jodie had a safe and loving environment.
Do Those With a Foster Carer’s Boundless Heart Experience a Feeling of Uncertainty?
Caring for Jodie was no easy task. Her unpredictable behaviour created significant strain for Cathy and her family. However, Cathy recognised that Jodie’s behaviour was a cry for help from her past trauma.
Cathy was determined to help Jodie overcome her challenges and heal. Cathy’s perseverance and compassion ensured that Jodie had a safe and loving environment.
However, the journey was not without its challenges, and Cathy faced moments of self-doubt, including:
- After receiving all the information from the pre-placement meeting, Cathy wondered if she was ready to handle a child with severe behavioural issues.
- After Jodie’s arrival, Cathy was taken aback by the blankness in Jodie’s eyes, which she found chilling.
- After Jodie’s first act of smearing faeces on her face, Cathy questioned whether her heart was huge enough to handle the task.
- After Jodie punched one of Cathy’s children, Cathy questioned if she had made a mistake in taking in Jodie.
- Cathy realised the magnitude of the task of helping Jodie and questioned if she had the tools to deal with a problem like hers.
- As Jodie disclosed more about her sexual abuse, Cathy worried about its negative impact on her daughters and the potential harm to their future relationships.
- Cathy struggled with exhaustion and felt ill-equipped to handle Jodie’s challenges, leading to isolation and confusion.
Despite these moments of uncertainty, Cathy’s foster carer’s boundless heart ensured that she never gave up on Jodie and remained committed to helping her heal and thrive.
An Imprint Left on Her Own Kids
Cathy’s kids grew up knowing nothing but foster children living with them. Cathy had started fostering twenty years before having kids of her own. Having foster children living with them was something her kids accepted wholeheartedly.
Her kids, Adrain and Paula, had a lot to put up with. As Cathy and her husband divorced early. This was difficult, coupled with all the troubled foster children coming and going. However, they never complained.
When Cathy decided to make a special meal and break the news of Jodie’s impending arrival. When she told them about it, her kids showed no reaction to the information. Instead, they asked questions and accepted that Jodie needed help.
The children playfully said that Jodie reminded them of the doll Chucky in the horror film. This was partly due to her appearance and behaviour, but the kids still accepted Jodie and wanted to help her. Their resilience and generosity did not go unnoticed by their mother.
After constantly being harassed by Jodie, and after the last incident when Jodie punched one of the kids. Cathy was at her wit’s end and close to giving in. Her kids came to her and told her that we wanted Jodie to stay. They wanted their mother to give her more time to see how things worked.
The kindness in these kids that had seen a lot before and with Jodie melted Cathy’s heart. Cathy Could not believe the generosity of her kids with all that Jodie had put them through.
A foster carer’s boundless heart is something we can all aspire to. Cathy Glass’s experience with Jodie is a testament to the resilience, compassion, and determination required to care for vulnerable children.
Although it was a painful and challenging journey, Cathy’s unwavering love for Jodie ultimately helped her to heal and thrive.
As Jodie left their home for a residential facility, Cathy felt a mix of emotions: ‘sadness, guilt, relief, and a sense of failure.’ She worried about Jodie’s well-being and wondered if she could have done more to help her. However, she ultimately recognised that the decision to have Jodie removed was the right one for everyone involved.
She hoped that Jodie would receive the help and support she needed and they could reunite. When it was time for Jodie to leave, she got one of Cathy’s kids to write a letter.
Paula is writing this as I don’t know my words. It was kind of you to look after me and I wish I could have stayed. I’m sorry for all the bad things I did. I can’t help it. Something makes me.
You are the only person who has looked after me and not got angry. I think you understand. I hope you forgive me. Adrian, Lucy and Paula are very lucky. When they have made me better can I come and live with you? Will you be my new mummy? I don’t want my old one.
Jodie’s letter to Cathy’s family is a testament to the impact of foster carers with boundless hearts. Despite her troubled behaviour, Jodie recognised Cathy’s love and care and even asked if she could come back and live with them. Cathy’s response;
Yes, Jodie, of course I will. Whenever you’re ready, pet.
Demonstrating the unending love and commitment of a foster carer’s boundless heart.
Sadly, many children are still waiting to be discovered by the Social Services system. And many more who are being neglected and abused.
We can all learn from Cathy’s example and aspire to have a boundless heart willing to help those vulnerable and in need.
If I could wish for anything in 2023, it would be a Foster Carer’s Boundless Heart!
- Cathy Glass ‘Cathy Glass’, Cathy Glass personal website, [Accessed 06 March 2023]
- Department for Education, 17 November 2022, ‘Children looked after in England including adoptions’, GOV.UK, [Accessed 27 December 2022]
- Department of Health, 03 November 2022, ‘Children’s social care statistics for Northern Ireland 2021/22’, Northern Ireland GOV.UK, [Accessed 27 December 2022]
- Scottish Government, 29 March 2022, ‘Children’s Social Work Statistics, Scotland 2020-21’, GOV.Scot, [Accessed 27 December 2022]
- The Fostering Network, ‘Fostering Statistics’, [Accessed 27 December 2022]
- Welsh Government, ‘Children Looked After’, GOV.Wales, [Accessed 27 December 2022]