One of our foster Dads, who is the main carer in his family, gives his take on fostering;
“Fostering gives me a great quality of life. In the retail world that I use to work in, a normal day would be up at 5.30 to be in work for 7 and then not get home until 6 or 6.30 most evenings. To me there is no better job for a work life balance and at the same time, you are making a difference to a young person’s life, no matter how long you have them. It is a career where if you don't give 100% it won’t work, but then again why would you not want to make it work for the young people?
The satisfaction that we get as a family knowing that we are making a difference is immense, even though we have to tell ourselves this some days! Like any thing we do in life you get good days and bad days, fostering is no different. The difference we have, is the fostering network you have behind you. I am always amazed that if you’re having a bad day and you think no one else will understand, just pick up the phone and talk and you’ll be surprised that what you’re dealing with is no different to any other foster parent. With Xcel this is what you get. I have always got on with people I have worked with, but with Xcel it just seems to be different. I haven't met anyone within Xcel that isn't putting the child first and your needs as a foster parent first.
Being a foster parent is a family role. Even though I am the one that does the day to day parenting, it wouldn't work without my wife and son. Last Christmas, our first as a foster family, was the first ever Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day that we have ever spent together. I firmly believe that fostering has brought us closer as a family, we eat more healthily and we do more as a family now than we have ever done. I have time to cook from scratch and we get to go out at weekends which I have never done before because of having what might be called a "normal" job.
I have never considered myself as a foster carer, because I believe that we are parents to the children in our care. In my experience, no matter how long you have the children/teenagers for you are doing a parents role. You are trying to install beliefs and values into your children to prepare them for life after they leave. This is no different than a good parent bringing up their own children. I would like to think that the children/teenagers we help over the years will stay in touch every now and again and if they don't, that's fine as well.
But undoubtedly, apart from making a difference to lives, it’s the friendships that I have made with others doing this role, not only other parents but the whole agency.
I firmly believe that there is no better job than the one of being a parent.”