When Cathy is asked to foster little Alex, aged 7, her immediate reaction is: Why can’t he stay with his present carers for the last month? He’s already had many moves since coming into care as a toddler and he’ll only be with her a short while before he goes to live with his permanent adoptive family. But the present carers are expecting a baby and the foster mother isn’t coping, so Alex goes to live with Cathy.
He settles easily and is very much looking forward to having a forever family of his own. The introductions and move to his adoptive family go well. But Alex is only with them for a week when problems begin. What happens next is both shocking and upsetting, and calls into question the whole adoption process.
Elaine and Ian had travelled half way round the world to adopt little Anna. She couldn’t have been more wanted, loved and cherished. So why was she now in foster care and living with me? It didn’t make sense.
Until I learned what had happened. ...
Dressed only in nappies and ragged T-shirts the children were incarcerated in their cots. Their large eyes stared out blankly from emaciated faces. Some were obviously disabled, others not, but all were badly undernourished. Flies circled around the broken ceiling fans and buzzed against the grids covering the windows. The only toys were a few balls and a handful of building bricks, but no child played with them. The silence was deafening and unnatural. Not one of the thirty or so infants cried, let alone spoke.
This is the true story of Joss, 13 who is angry and out of control. At the age of nine, Joss finds her father’s dead body. He has committed suicide. Then her mother remarries and Joss bitterly resents her step-father who abuses her mentally and physically.
Cathy takes Joss under her wing but will she ever be able to get through to the warm-hearted girl she sees glimpses of underneath the vehement outbreaks of anger that dominate the house, and will Cathy be able to build up Joss’s trust so she can learn the full truth of the terrible situation?
Lucy was born to a single mother who had been abused and neglected for most of her own childhood. Right from the beginning Lucy’s mother couldn’t cope, but it wasn’t until Lucy reached eight years old that she was finally taken into permanent foster care.
By the time Lucy is brought to live with Cathy she is eleven years old and severely distressed after being moved from one foster home to another. Withdrawn, refusing to eat and three years behind in her schooling, it is thought that the damage Lucy has suffered is irreversible.
But Cathy and her two children bond with Lucy quickly, and break through to Lucy in a way no-one else has been able to, finally showing her the loving home she never believed existed. Cathy and Lucy believe they were always destined to be mother and daughter – it just took them a little while to find each other.
Already excluded from his nursery school, and deemed too immature yet for the infants, he’s already lashed out at his 18 month old half-brother, and now, after attacking and killing the family’s pet rabbit, he’s been given up by his mother and step-dad.
Casey’s not used to fostering little ones, but keen to help, she agrees, and gets to meet the strangest 5 year old she’s ever known. He swears like a teenager, has tantrums like a two year old, and the only positive in his life seems to be his love for his real dad, a troubled ex-SAS soldier who he no longer sees.
The plan for Paulie is simple; to try and find a way to get him back home with his family, but the more they get to know Paulie, the more they begin to realise that perhaps ‘home’ isn’t going to be the best place for him after all...
Alice, aged four, is snatched by her mother the day she is due to arrive at Cathy's house. Drug-dependent and mentally ill, but desperate to keep hold of her daughter, Alice's mother snatches her from her parents' house and disappears.
Cathy spends three anxious days worrying about her whereabouts before Alice is found safe, but traumatised. Alice is like a little doll, so young and vulnerable, and she immediately finds her place in the heart of Cathy's family. She talks openly about her mummy, who she dearly loves, and how happy she was living with her maternal grandparents before she was put into care. Alice has clearly been very well looked after and Cathy can't understand why she couldn't stay with her grandparents.
It emerges that Alice's grandparents are considered too old (they are in their early sixties) and that the plan is that Alice will stay with Cathy for a month before moving to live with her father and his new wife. The grandparents are distraught – Alice has never known her father, and her grandparents claim he is a violent drug dealer.
Desperate to help Alice find the happy home she deserves, Cathy's parenting skills are tested in many new ways. Finally questions are asked about Alice's father suitability, and his true colours begin to emerge.
It’s a Saturday morning when Casey and Mike are asked to take in eight year old Connor – an emergency placement, just for a couple of days, following a violent incident at his now former care home. And Casey’s instinct, as ever, is to say yes. With long term foster son Tyler off to football, and no particular plans for the weekend, even the fact that Connor arrives in what looks like a prison van doesn’t phase her – after all, challenging children are what she and Mike have trained for. And how much trouble can he really be? He’s eight.
A lot, as it turns out.
Connor is as streetwise as they come, and, hurt and angry, seems determined to cause trouble from the off. But despite the attitude, there’s something strangely endearing about their little visitor that makes Casey want to tease out the frightened child behind the swagger. So much so that, with Connor and Tyler getting on so well, she wonders – should they say they’ll keep him longer? It seems like the easiest decision in the world ...