There was 10-year gap between my daughter and her younger brother. My husband was self-employed and I became a child minder with the local council. This meant I could help toward the household finances as well as spend the time needed with our son before he started school.
By the time my son was 9 years old I was a single parent. I had had my daughter whilst still being very young and my family had abandoned me. My daughter went on to have her first child while she was still at school and I found myself supporting my daughter and looking after my 5-year old.
After my husband and children left home, a friend suggested fostering. She had researched FosterCare UK but was unable to pursue it further herself. She gave me the introduction leaflet and so my foster caring journey began.
Completing the Form F assessment was a roller coaster of emotions; with lots of soul searching and some painful memories from my past. My social worker was fantastic. As I had no evening commitments with family, she was able to spend two or three evenings a week with me getting through my background quite quickly. There were a few restless nights and I would go through the details over and over in my head. Often asking myself how I would have dealt with situations now with hindsight.
I passed the panel and became a foster carer in 2015, and whilst driving to Devon to a family member’s wedding I received a call to take a possible placement. My first placement was in was an 18-year-old mum with her toddler son. I found this type of placement a good fit for me and having the experience of being a young mother and supporting my daughter, I felt I could support this young lady.
As my placements to date have been parent and child, my son does find it slightly difficult to help out as he is acutely aware of the challenges he could be faced with. It is my daughter or my niece who help out when I have appointments etc. however, both my children are now both nominated carers for me and are always at the end of a phone.
The emotional strain as a solo carer can be quite intense. I couldn’t do it without the support of my children. And with FosterCare UK I have never had reason to question the support of the staff at any level. There are so many topics to get involved with via training and it’s great to meet up at the regular SGM meetings. I really enjoy the opportunities to come to the office for training or meetings.
I have made some really good friends amongst the other carers, and we try and have impromptu lunches from time to time as our busy schedules permit.
Each day is different, and every placement raises diverse situations that keep me alert and focused on ‘what next’.
There have been a number of challenges over the years and there have been various outcomes for my parent and child placements. From independence together, to separation and Special Guardianship Orders, as well as full adoption. Despite being relatively short-term placements of six months or so, there is a lot of emotional turmoil. A new born baby does a lot of growing and developing in six months. I have been fortunate that I still have the occasional get together or update on how the children are doing. This makes it all worthwhile and very rewarding.
My goal is help these vulnerable young people placed in my care; to look forward to a better future. With the training FosterCare UK provide, I am making a difference.