Foster care: what does it really mean? You might know it happens, but do you really know what it entails?
Fortunately for myself, I grew up with the best friend whose single mum was a carer. At that time, she cared for two beautiful young brothers. I grew extremely attached to the boys, and at my tender age of 12 years the empathy within me was overwhelming.
When they moved into adoption I was devastated, clearly not understanding that adoption was the best outcome for them. From then on, my mission was to become a foster carer. At 24 I was a mum of two of my own birth children, aged 2 and 6 years old. I had a spare bedroom and decided now was the time to really concentrate on my passion.
Choosing the right agency was daunting, we contacted so many before finally finding the perfect one in UK Fostering. From our initial visit we were at total ease, we were designated a supervising social worker and have since developed a fantastic working relationship with her. Not only does she know my foster children very well she puts herself out and takes the time to get to know my birth children too. She has supported us through the process of the dreaded ‘Form F’ although, to be honest, it’s nowhere near as bad as we had convinced ourselves it would be. She was there by our side when we went to panel, helping us to keep calm and relaxed. And again, there for us when our first mother and baby placement arrived. Although, no one can fully prepare you for the arrival of your first placement. I remember an enormous amount of conflicting emotions, mainly self-doubt. Can we really do this? What have we got ourselves into? How are we going to manage? Also, excitement! Wow! We have made it! We really are foster carers! We are going to make a difference!
Our first placement was the hardest, understanding exactly what’s expected of you. Ensuring things go smoothly while making adjustments to your current family dynamics. Without the support from a good supervising social worker I can see why some new carers would reconsider altogether. Fortunately, with support, I was able to complete my first mother and baby placement. The young mum who had no support network except for an abusive partner, was with our help, able to completely turn her life around. Not only did her determination win back the already lost respect and confidence of the child’s social worker, she was able to fight her way out of an abusive relationship and kick a drug habit at the same time. All of this because someone believed in her.
I can’t describe the feeling of pride and self-satisfaction I have to know that we made that difference, we believed in her. Something that no one prior had done for her, that’s all she needed in order to be able to believe in herself. Now five years on she is still is very much a part of our family. She continues to work to better her life, achieving a degree from university and is now in a very stable relationship as well as her son thriving in school. This is fostering. This is making a difference. Don’t put off enquiring, it takes one person to believe, make a difference. Be that person.
UK Fostering Foster Carer