Ian and Mel
Fostering was something we had been considering for 12 years before we eventually decided to apply. By this stage, our daughter was 18 and she agreed that the time was right for us all. At first, we did respite care and I also had a job in a school. However, I soon decided to stop working and focus on fostering. We have had five placements in two and a half years and the girl we currently care for has been with us for eighteen months.
As foster carers we see what a big difference having a supportive family home makes to children and how the little things we all take for granted, such as learning to swim, can mean so much. There have been some very rewarding outcomes for the children we have fostered, including a little girl who went on to be adopted by a lovely family who we still see regularly. Knowing they are going to have a nice life eases the pain of saying goodbye when a child leaves us.
Foster carers need to be good listeners and be prepared to work with a wide range of people including the families of the children they foster, social workers, adoptive families and schools. We get good support from Cambridgeshire County Council and we found that our training helped us understand why children in care sometimes behave the way they do.
We get a real buzz from being foster carers and we thrive on being able to help local children who have had such a difficult start in life.
Over the 2 years that my husband and I have been fostering we’ve cared for teenagers who have been through a wide range of experiences and have come from very different backgrounds. We have often found that they have very low self-esteem and a negative view of their futures. It can be difficult, but we work hard to gain their trust and show them that they can have a positive future to look forward to.
We already have some great memories from our time as foster carers, particularly when we have been able to give young people in our care the opportunity to experience things many families take for granted, like taking a 15 year-old to the zoo for the first time. We also often keep in touch with the young people once they leave us and it is wonderful to hear good news stories from them on their progress, such as getting jobs or moving on from problems with drugs or alcohol.
Foster carers need plenty of energy and stamina and you need to really enjoy the company of teenagers. It helps to have a sense of humour and to be open minded and up for a challenge.