The Collins English Dictionary defines the word mistake as: “1an error or blunder in action, opinion, or judgment; 2 a misconception or misunderstanding.

Unfortunately I’m too familiar with the sickening feeling of self-disillusionment when you realize that you have just made a huge mistake.  Especially when it affects those you initially zealously set out to help, support and try to make a difference to.  Maybe I’m unique but this is how I experience the process — my first reaction is to be very ashamed of my failure to make or take the correct action in that particular situation.  Then after desperately groping for the right words, I fumble out my heartfelt (but totally insufficient) apology.   Realizing that nothing I can ever say or do, can correct my mistake, I am engulfed with an all consuming urge to self protect by withdrawing and refraining from further attempts…   Does this process sound familiar to you?  Well I hope it does because if it doesn’t, that will make me just plain weird!

Recently, trying to work thru a humongous blunder in judgment I had made, withdrawing and refraining from being involved seemed the best decision to make. Why should I put myself in situations where I can potentially make more mistakes, if I could just simply choose not to get involved?   But thru prayer and self-examination I have ones again realized that if we try — we will make mistakes.  When we make mistakes we have to man-up to them, sincerely apologize and try to mend the situation as much as we can.  To withdraw would mean that I have given in to my own selfish nature — walloping in self-pity— and neutralizing me from ever succeeding again.  For not making mistakes also means that I’m not doing anything.

So dear Foster Mom and Dad, we are all human and therefore will make mistakes.  Let’s not linger upon the ‘what if’s’ and ‘if only’s’ of our mistakes, allowing them to dictate our actions — for that will surely result in us never accomplishing anything! 


About Helouise Steenkamp

I'm a 45 plus, Devoted Wife and Mother. Adonai has blessed us with two Amazingly Wonderful Sons. We have had the privilege of being Place of Safety parents for 1 1/2 years and there after foster parents to a Darling Princess for 5 years. She was reconciled with her biological parents in Dec'14. Our hearts are still aching from the loss, but we know that as we trust Adonai with our salvation, so we can trust Him with her future. We welcomed our new 4 year old foster child on 05JUN'15.
This entry was posted in Foster Care Advice, Foster Parent Encouragement, Knitting Your Family, Parenting with Love, Sharing Experiences. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Mistake

  1. Matilda says:


    We have now gone to court (eventually!! after the children have been in our care for almost 3 years!) and the children are legally in our foster care. But has anything changed??? We have been instructed to treat the children as our own, but how can we when our hands are tied?? The person that is causing the most harm and pain to the children is their biological mother, whom we are not allowed to deny access!!!

    What do we do??? We have a contact schedule in place which she blatantly ignores. We have the oldest child in therapy to deal with her non-contact (she visited last in December and regularly does not phone for 2 – 3 consecutive times and then calls and expects all to be in order). The therapist the eldest is with was at one stage wanting to stop contact as it was too traumatic for the child, she however now feels that the child is coming to terms with the non-contact and that the mother is basically winding down her contact with them.

    We had a very disturbing scene this weekend where the oldest child went hysterical on the phone asking why the mother is not calling (this call came after 2 no calls, preceded by 1 call and that preceded by 3 no calls). I had to console the child for a lengthy period after the call to get them to calm down.

    We are feeling completely powerless. We are not allowed to deny contact, but the person causing the most upset and strife in the children’s lives is the one that should not have contact….

    We had a panel meeting with her social workers and ours last year this time, stipulating the visiting and calling schedule (twice a week calls and once a month visitation) and this has not been remotely kept too (69 calls last year and 5 visits). this year, we are starting on the same track – 16 calls and no visits.

    What can we do?? I need to protect these children from harm, they have been through enough, but the very person i must allow access is the one person that does the most harm.

    She is a recovering drug addict, but still drinks and parties. Surely we can do something to stop having to go through all of this for another year? and probably another year thereafter…..surely we have some rights that we can call on to stop the cycle??? Please would you let me know?

    • At times the foster journey makes no sense to us, and feels completely illogical. However for us as foster parents to function in the best interest of our foster children we have to work with the system and make the system work for us.

      It is part of our fostering duties to inform the presiding social workers of all incidents before, during, after and in between contact with the birth parents that upset and distress the children in our care. You haven’t indicated when last year the network/panel meeting took place.

      If the telephonic contact doesn’t run in accordance with the stipulated agreement, such as that she’s not allowed to phone them when intoxicated, you have to contact the social worker and telephonic contact should then be re-scheduled, or cancelled. Unfortunately we as foster parents are not allowed to refuse any contact that has been agreed upon, unless we have the permission of the presiding social worker.

      Keep diligent records of all telephone calls and the children’s reactions thereon (date, time, duration, state of the mother, etc.). Make sure to keep the speaker phone on so that you can actually hear what the mother is communicating to the children. Forward this detail to the children’s social worker on a weekly/ or every 2nd week basis (Make sure to not include your ‘opinions’, but to just report what actually happened). This will provide you with a written record , as well as keep the situation under the social workers constant radar. Because of the huge shortage of social workers in South Africa, they have unrealistic case loads they have to monitor, report on, follow up on, etc..

      With other words enable her to follow the correct path in the system, within her restricted ability. May you find strength and courage in knowing that you’re not fostering the children for the benefit of their parents, but for the benefit of the children. The investment of love and care your making into them, no one can ever take away.

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