From my own experience of working with a Fostering agency here in Wales grew the character of Amy slowly but steadily in the back of my mind.
(and before you think I am writing a abuse story,I am not, this is a supernatural – vampire laced book – but different)
My husband and I decided 7 years ago that we wanted to consider fostering. We looked in to many different agencies including government run and council foster homes but finally decided on the Fca. The main reason being that the council told us the children most often appear in the middle of the night in need of a bed and will be moved on within 2 days. I saw that as to much disruption to my own children and even though I realize that it helps the council, I don’t really see how I could make any impact or help a child in 1 – 2 nights better then a hotel could. I know that sounds heartless, but nobody does anything completely selfless, and it was my aim to help 1 or 2 children make a better life for themselves , not provide a bedsit for dozens. The Fca short term Foster arrangement was a minimum of 2 years. The difference was that the Fca only really fostered children wth specific needs, kids that needed more attention. In short, all children that came into our care would have been abuse cases, one way or the other.
To become foster carers my husband and I had to go on a long list of child care courses. From effects of each type of abuse, physical or physiological to how to deal with the children when they themselves become violent. We spent a long very busy year attending course after course. Some 2 – 4 day courses, others just one day.
Well, we certainly learnt A LOT !!
And if we took nothing else from it, it has taught us to be better,more patient parents. We now see past behavior and tantrums to the reason behind them and act on that instead just reprimanding and shouting back. I used to be quite (dare I say it) impulsive and loud before, I now barely raise my voice, and when I do, it’s deliberate as a teaching moment not out of actual anger. Kids are kids, they learn by bad behavior as they do by good.
We also had a social worker come into our home once a week for a year before we got approved.
And with her, I learnt a lot about myself.
I learned to see why I did things and reacted to situations the way I did. It was truly insightful and I am very grateful to our social worker, who retired after bringing us through panel.
Back to Amy:
She grew up with only her mother, who was a drug addict and a bit of a prostitute. Amy spends her toddler years scrounging around in the next door neighbors dumpsters looking for food while her mum sleeps the sleep only a crackhead can sleep. Because of this Amy is bumped from Foster home to Foster home and returned to her mother each time she gets out of rehab.
When Amy is 12, and her mother comes to pick her up at her latest foster home, she arrives in a BMW, and looks a million bucks.
While Amy was getting to know yet again another set of step brothers and sisters, her mother had scored a very successful surgeon husband.
Amy’s life is turned upside down. Big house, big cars, fancy clothes and endless amount of shoes. Her own credit card. She gets enrolled in a private school where she has to wear a uniform and learns horse riding and hockey – it seems all her dreams have come true. Her mum is sober and healthy and she is finally allowed to live with her again.
But it comes at a far higher cost then her life before. Her stepfather is a violent drunk.
None of this is in the book, so I am not giving any spoilers away. But her background gave me a good starting point to build her character, and whereas you will not meet her until her 18th birthday, her past continues to haunt her throughout the book as Amy struggles with letting people get close to her and trusting them. She can not trust her feelings as she has never been loved , she is not sure what it is or what to do with it when she meets Daniel.