Jill and Mark
Mark and I began our fostering journey 6 years ago. Neither of us had ever fostered before, but having worked in the care industry, it was something I had wanted to do for a long time and the time was finally right for us to begin.
My son had recently left home and suddenly it was just the two of us living in a 3-bedroom home, both working shift work and hardly seeing each other. We knew we wanted change, so we made the decision to take the step and go for it! Our families were all on board for us to get started, so we made our enquiry and a few months later in August 2014 we were officially approved, and the real journey began…
From approval to our first placement we had a mixture of feelings, you are obviously excited to get going but you can also worry if you are going to do a good job and just hope that it will all work out. We were just looking forward to helping someone.
I don’t think we really had any idea of what fostering was going to really be like, although you are given training and information you only really know once you start doing it and begin having the experiences and learning about the children and young people you are caring for.
Over the last 6 years we have had 3 placements as well as supporting with respite at various times. Each placement has been completely different, there have been challenges at times, but we are always learning and adapting. We have experienced looking after different types of placements, from taking in an unaccompanied asylum seeker and supporting her into college and onto independence and now currently looking after a young lad through a therapeutic placement, who came to us when he was 12 and has now been with us for the last 3 and a half years. It’s so wonderful to see the progress he is making and to have been able to support him getting back into school, where he is now doing really well. When we hear feedback from others about the way he speaks about us, that is when you realise how close that bond really can become. We have also seen our foster children interact and get on with our older birth children which has been wonderful as it’s great to have support.
Looking back at our experience so far, the best part is definitely watching our young people grow and begin to get a better understanding of life. You see them improve in so many areas, some small and some big. I now understand that children in foster care have endless amounts of barriers they have to work through, and you are there to help them do that. I have learnt so much about patience and am always learning new ways I can help and support. Every child that comes into foster care has had a unique experience and will need a certain family dynamic that can meet their needs, so families are needed in all shapes and sizes to make sure there is a good fit. I really would advise anyone who is in the right situation to go into fostering, I know it might not be for everyone, but if you don’t try, you won’t know the difference that you could be making to someone’s life. We have always got what we needed from our agency, FosterCare UK, and there is always someone when we need them for support. So, if you are thinking about it, I would recommend you give them a call to discuss the possibility of starting your journey today!