Read how, to one family, Fostering is one of the most challenging, yet most rewarding things they have ever done!
Fostering is one of the most challenging, yet most rewarding things I have ever done. It is not a job but a vocation.
I started fostering with my husband when I was 21 years old. It was something we had always wanted to do and with two young children at home and a spare bedroom it was the ideal time for us to start. We fostered for a local authority for 3 years. In that time we cared for about 17 children, some stayed for short breaks whilst their main carers took a holiday to recharge, others came because they had no relatives to care for them whilst their parent was in hospital, some stayed for longer until their parents made the changes needed to have them home and others moved onto longer term foster carers. We then took a break as our family continued to grow and the needs of our own children changed, but always said we would come back to fostering when the time was right for our children and we had a room to spare.
We returned to fostering 7 years ago when our own children were older and more settled. Having experienced the challenges of short breaks and interim fostering for our own children, who struggled with lots of change, we decided we would prefer to offer long term or permanent fostering, alongside short breaks and interim. We fostered through an independent agency this time as we wanted to be sure of the support we would receive and felt that this gave us the best opportunity of finding the right child or children.
We have cared for a number of children over the last 7 years, including children who returned home. They have become part of our extended family as their mum ‘adopted’ us and saw the value for her children in keeping a connection with us.
We also have adopted through fostering our youngest child since she was 2 years old and have another child who is with us on a permanent fostering basis as adoption was not in his plan. However, there are benefits to this for him and us, as it means when he needs additional support we can go to social work for this and have access to other services he needs due to his early life experiences.
Fostering is rewarding but also hard work, especially as you have to earn the child’s trust. You have to be empathetic, accepting and remain curious at times when behaviours or words can make you feel anything but that. You have to see beyond the behaviours and look for the nugget of gold under the surface. It takes time, consistency and a lot of patience but oh is it worth it when you see the behaviours begin to fade. When you see a child really truly relax and enjoy life, and achieve what seemed to be impossible at the start of the journey, then you know all the hard work, tears and frustration was worth it.
Fostering is not for the faint hearted, but is the most rewarding thing you can do.