In this final episode in our serialised blog about experienced foster parents Katrina and Sandy, Katrina shares about common misconceptions about fostering, and offers some words of wisdom to people who are thinking about becoming foster parents themselves.

When asked about the potential barriers to fostering, Katrina shares that many people feel they might be too old to foster. “I get spoken to by a lot of people that are older and… they’ll say to me, you know, oh I’ve always thought about fostering, but you know, I thought I’d be too old.” She clarifies, however, that there isn’t necessarily an age limit.

Another common concern is emotional attachment. People often fear that they’ll get too attached to the children they foster and struggle when the time comes for the children to leave. Katrina explains, “A lot of people don’t know how you can let them go back or let them move on, they say they’ll get too attached. I always say it’s not easy but you get through it and wherever possible my family just keeps on growing, this includes the children and those looking after them.”

Moreover, there are those who’ve had negative experiences with the system, which puts them off from fostering. Katrina recounts a recent interaction with a woman at a garage who used to foster and had a negative experience. The woman mentioned a difficult panel interview and feelings of disregard from the local authority, claiming they seemed more interested in making money than in the children’s wellbeing. She also mentioned the constant change of children’s social workers. Katrina responded by highlighting the difference she’s experienced with AFA, saying, “I’ve not experienced that with my agency, I literally have had the same social worker for the past 13 years, and I love fostering, so I would recommend it.”

Katrina has some advice for prospective foster parents, “Go into it with an open mind. Don’t think you know everything about parenting because you’ll soon learn that you don’t. And take every opportunity that comes your way in the way of training.” She emphasises not to judge children based on reports or first impressions and to give them a chance.

Recalling a particularly challenging foster child, Katrina shares the story of Chantelle, a spirited teenager whose antics they initially found appealing but turned out to be more than they bargained for. She says, “Chantelle had been trained by her parents for going into care and knew the system inside out, she knew the system more than we did. She was also very intelligent and that was a positive gift at times and very bad at others. She was torn between her new life and the life and family she was leaving behind.”

Despite the turmoil, Katrina and her partner ultimately adopted Chantelle. Katrina explains, “She took us to hell and back, for a few years you know.” However, she reflects, “If anything, she made me and my family stronger. As for Chantelle, she is a survivor and we are incredibly proud to call her our daughter.”

Katrina explains that she still loves fostering and would adopt younger children if she could, but age is against her. Nevertheless, she does admit some sadness in seeing the children leave, “As much as I’m sad to see the children go because they’re adorable children and we’ve grown so attached, but we know they’re going to be really happy.”

Reflecting on her own fostering journey, Katrina says, “I would have loved to have done a big family group before I retired from fostering.” Despite the trials, it’s clear that fostering has been an integral part of Katrina’s life, with both challenges and profound rewards.

This was the last of a 12-part series of blogs telling the inspiring story of Katrina’s fostering journey with AFA Fostering, but we’ll be working on a new “season” which we look forward to bringing to you soon.

Did this story resonate with you? Imagine the fulfilling journey you could embark on by transforming the life of a child or young person. If you live in East Anglia or the East Midlands, and can offer a spare bedroom for fostering in a caring, secure home, you already have some of the groundwork for becoming a foster parent.

With us, you’ll never be alone on this journey. We provide comprehensive training and 24/7 support to our foster parents to ensure you are fully equipped to provide the best care. Alongside the emotional rewards, a competitive allowance is also in place to help you in providing for your foster child.

Curious to learn more? Begin your fostering journey today. Simply reach out to our warm and welcoming team at 0333 358 3217 or fill out our online form. Connect with us on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated and be part of inspiring conversations. So, give us a ring today and start the process that could change both your life and a child’s, for the better.