7 years ago I was in residential care. I often felt overwhelmed by what was happening in my life and went missing from where I should be.

It was the job of one school receptionist to track me down every time. Her name was Julie.
When she found me, or she took me out of classes for meetings, Julie took the time to talk to me, to listen to what was upsetting me.

She cared about me right from the beginning, although I didn’t recognise it for a long time.
One December I was going to be the only child left in my residential unit on Christmas Day. Everyone else had family contact.
Julie offered me time with her family.
So I went to her house for Christmas. I was startled when her two daughters and her mum had presents ready for me.

When I went to Harvard and opened exam results she and her husband were with me on Skype, cheering me on.
When placements broke down, I would often stay on their couch. Julie made sure I kept up with my homework and spoke with my teachers.

They would have fostered me but they didn’t have a spare bedroom so they didn’t meet the criteria.
When I left school nothing changed. I was part of the family group chat. I came home and stayed on the couch over university holidays. When the oldest daughter had a baby, I became an auntie.
The younger daughter introduced me to her friends as her little sister. Julie and Ray considered themselves to have 3 daughters ❤️❤️❤️

It meant so much but it took me a long time to be able to reciprocate because I was so scared of opening myself up to losing another family.
But it’s 7 years later. And they’re still here. I call them mum, dad, sister, nephew. I give them cheek and get told to do the dishes and hug them and call them any time I’m upset.
It took a lot of time, patience and trust, but at 22 I’ve found a family that loves me unconditionally.

They’ve never received money to care for me or signed any paperwork but they treat me as their own, they’re in it for life and would give me all that they can.
Nurturing and protecting existing loving relationships within the community for the child is so important.

I’ve had a lot of bedrooms so I know it can take a while to settle in. But today I moved in with my sister Taylor.

And it finally feels like home 🏠❤️
I know lucky I am to have my family now but for a long time I didn’t.

Thankfully @whocaresscot have been bringing other care experienced people together for Christmas Day every year. This year we can’t, but they’re granting as many Christmas Wishes. If you can help please do 💖

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