My experience of fostering.
A great piece written by one of our amazing Foster Parents;
“Life often throws curveballs that change the direction of your life and can offer new opportunities and experiences. Some personal challenges leading up to the first lockdown last year made me decide to take early retirement from my thirty plus year career and grasp the opportunity to foster full time. My husband and I had spent the previous few years offering respite whilst we both worked full-time in our other jobs. I had felt increasingly drawn to fostering and wished to get more involved in supporting our more vulnerable children.
We had many great experiences providing respite but had not yet gone through the referrals process to have a young person live with us for longer than a respite period. Although I wasn’t due to finish my job until Summer, we received our first referral in Spring, and as it turned out this was perfect for us because it was a planned move for a young girl with the aim of her joining a family in a few months time. Due to her high level of need and the fact she had spent years in a therapeutic children’s home, we were put through a rigorous selection process that included interviews, where we had to answer quite challenging questions to prove our ability to both cope and to provide the best care for this young girl.
Having been chosen as her new family we went through a long transition with introductions, taking her out, introducing her to our home and then overnight stays. This process was initially supposed to take eight weeks but as she made a really good connection with us it took six weeks. Throughout the process we were able to start building a relationship with her, prepare for her moving in by having items in her room that made her feel thought about and wanted. We took her out for a celebratory meal on her last day at Junior School and had the opportunity to bake with her and have days out before she moved to our house full time. She gradually brought her clothes and other belongings to our house so that she increasingly felt she belonged with us and was settled in her new bedroom. The planned long-term move worked really well for us and for our foster daughter and it ensured that she felt secure and wanted when she made the transition from a residential home to our family home.
Early this year our foster son joined our family. This was a very different experience for us. He also has complex needs but due to challenging circumstances he was moved as an emergency. Although we were scrutinised to ensure we were able to cope with his challenging behaviours and needs and to support and provide a stable and loving home for our young boy, this process happened in one day, with him joining us the following day on a short-term basis. He arrived after a very long journey with his social workers and a car full of belongings, confused and traumatised not only by his early life experiences but also by the breakdown of what was supposed to be his forever family. He is still with us now and he is making good progress.
Fostering experiences and the journey our children have to join our families can differ hugely. In our profession we have to be flexible and resilient, responding appropriately to meet the needs and individual circumstances of those in our care. Both of our children are doing well now. The planned move and long transition for our foster daughter worked really well for her and it was what she needed to give her the best chance of settling with a family. The emergency move for our foster son was traumatic and confusing for him and we had to work hard to make him feel safe and secure. These were very different experiences that I value equally. The manner in which our children find us is less important than what we do once they are with us.”