““What do you do?” people ask.
“We’re a fostering family” I reply.
“Oh that’s amazing, I couldn’t do that. I wouldn’t be able to give them back”.
“Oh really” I always say, thinking to myself “you think we just give them back?!”
When we first started fostering it was scary wondering ‘what are we doing, can we do this?’ My children’s safety was everything, peeping on them a million times through the night making sure they were fine as you hear and read many horror stories. With all the training in the world, you never know what these children have really been through. Yes, it helps you manage their behaviours and understand their thinking a little better but these children are now living with you for however long it takes, and it’s only then the true emotional turmoil becomes clearer!
Fostering for us is a very rewarding but also very hard work for us as a family. We’ve fostered for 7 years, and we’ve never experienced two days the same. All the children have been different, both in terms of character, background and age, as well as helping two 38 year old parents with their new-born 2 days before Christmas.
It is an amazing feeling when children begin to trust us, make progress, and realise we will do our best not to let them down. We don’t promise that we won’t (we explain we’re only human) but it’s certainly not our intention. When they accept your help and feel safe enough to share their stories, sleep through the night without waking having a night terror, when they finally begin to feel part of your family; that is what we really want for them. It leaves a huge hole in your heart when these children move on, but you hope that you have helped to set them on a new, better path. Some though barely wave when they move on; they can’t get hurt if they don’t get attached. They call us every name under the sun, kick the dog, run away; you do learn over time not to take it personally.
We are a fostering family and we’ve never regretted that decision. Some children that we have fostered have been very challenging and it affected our whole house, but thankfully our own children have developed a resilience and amazing empathy. They never know why the children come and stay, just that things haven’t been very nice for them so they are having a break, a bit like a holiday (sometimes a long holiday). They accept them for who they are and that makes us very proud. We all foster in our house; it is a massive change in everyone’s life because fostering is 24/7. There are no bank holidays or weekends to put your feet up, plus you can’t call in sick!”
Max and Gary
AFA Anglia Foster Carers