I just finished listening to (yay Maggie is on audio!) Maggie Hartley’s latest foster care memoir Who Will Love me Now?
Maggie and her long term foster daughter Louisa only expect to have Ten year old Kristy as a respite placement. She’s brought to them after witnessing her foster mom have a heart attack that day.
She is meant to only stay with Maggie and their family for a few days. At first Maggie thinks that’s a good thing. Kirsty is hyperactive, constantly chatters, wants her way all the time and throws tantrums like a toddler.
She throws things down the stairs, a tv and other things, slams doors and is very bossy.
She needs constant attention and so does Maggie’s other foster child a ten month old baby. Of course Kristy is very jealous of him for needing Maggie’s attention.
As a week turns into two Maggie learns the truth about this family that agreed to foster Kirsty long term and who she has come to know as her mom and dad, after being neglected by her birth mother.
With nowhere to turn Kirsty’s behavior gets worse. To the point of disrupting the placement of the other child in her home.
Maggie chooses to put all her energy and emotions into working with Kirsty to learn to express her feelings, change her deeply held beliefs about herself and others and generally be able to fit better into a family. Maggie does amazing creative therapeutic work with her, saying she’s done this kind of emotion based work with other kids before. Kirsty’s placement at a therapeutic school, rather than the mainstream school where she was constantly disruptive, does wonders for her self-esteem. She is in an environment where she is nurtured and able to express herself/ get support emotionally but not able to get away with anything around being controlling and bossy or hurting others.
The positive turn Kirsty’s life takes is as shocking as it is just the right fit for both she and the family that reaches out to her. Maggie does an amazing job with this very challenging and deeply wounded little girl. Kirsty leaves Maggie’s house nine months later with a new sense of self, calmer and knowing that she is loved.