I got a call from a number I didn't recognise, not unusual, the man on the other line said he'd been given my number by someone who knew someone who knew me. It wasn't a work call but it kind of couldn't not be.
Straight to the point he declared 'I want to adopt a Syrian child, preferably about 4 or 5 years old and definitely without live parents or family as that would be too complicated'.
I'm moved by the images of refugee children especially those without families or adults to care for them. The idea of the most vulnerable caught up in terrifying and confusing circumstances then removed from their families and adults to care for them is heart rending and upsetting beyond measure.
I feel that as a nation and as a society and as humans we have a moral duty to act.
But the question I have is what should we do?
I live with children who have experienced loss, separation and trauma and though their experiences are different to child refugees they are not that far removed. For MrsC and I it is without doubt the most challenging experience and aspect of our lives, it almost broke us.
Knowing this makes me question what the solution is for the young refugees. I work in the context of a foster care system that is struggling to accommodate the children that need homes. I see the headlines that announce 9000 carers needed to fill the gaps, even those children with the most basic of needs struggle to find a bed. Every day I read referrals literally begging for placements for children*.
Then I look at the children that are refugees and I see the 'normal' complex needs, such as the effects of trauma, loss and separation but I see them multiplied by language, culture, food, education and the immigration system. I can't imagine caring for my children whilst negotiating these additional hurdles.
Bringing refugee children here seems like a notion that appeases our need to respond but I wonder if it's the best solution for those children. We want to do something but perhaps we should think differently.
It's a complicated situation and but I'm pretty sure pouring them into a foster care system that is creaking is not the solution. I read a lot about bringing them but not so much about caring for them. Of course pragmatism would argue any port in a storm but I'm not sure that we would accept children being left with families without appropriate training and financial and professional support. Would the large ongoing costs per child be better used identifying families that reflect the children's culture and language then training, equipping and supporting them to care for these children? Would this be politically acceptable, giving money to communities across Europe and North Africa to care for some of these children?
There's more I could say but nobody reads long blogs.
Anyway- The man on the phone and I had a brief chat, we didn't speak again as I don't think he liked my answers.
*I'm not exaggerating