Louise and Gareth
Gareth and I have been fostering since September 2016, when we got approved at panel.
We had been trying to have a baby and due to complications and health issues, we decided to put it on hold for a couple of years. I have a son from a previous relationship and knew the love and space we would have given our baby was still there so in the interim we decided to foster.
Our families were wary at first however they thought it was a brave decision. Fostering seems to have some negative connotations associated with it and many people assume all looked after children are ‘naughty’.
I didn’t realise how many rules, regulations and training there was to become a foster parent, until I started talking to the independent fostering agency, FosterCare UK. I didn’t even know there was more than one type of fostering.
When we got our first placement, I was so nervous. My husband had gone to pick him up and I was waiting at home on my own with all sorts of questions going through my mind. Will he like us? Have I got enough food that he likes? He is a teenager so will he even listen to what I have to say?
When he arrived my nerves quickly dissipated. We were joking together, and it was obvious immediately that he fit in well with our family.
Since then we have had two teenage respite placements, a 9-year-old and we have had two parent and child placements.
The parent and child placements taught me a lot and I have learnt a lot about myself. The first was difficult as there was a language barrier however, it went really well and it was a lovely happy ending. I am still in contact with the mother now.
My second was much harder, we thought differently about a lot of things and had very different morals. This was my first placement that didn’t want help from me and didn’t want to be friends which is hard. With help from my husband and son and keeping in mind that we were doing it all to ensure the baby got the best future we made it to the end of placement.
My son loves quickly and can be emotional. He also bonds quickly and sometimes struggled when placements leave however, he understands why we do it and why sometimes they have to move on. He mostly enjoys us fostering.
Being a foster carer is hard. It can be draining, tiring, emotional but I would definitely recommend it. If we had the space and the time, I would encourage anyone to foster. Seeing the impact you have is incredibly rewarding. There isn’t much you could do that is more important than helping children live their best life.
And the support we receive from FosterCare UK is absolutely brilliant. They are at the end of the phone any time of day or night. As well as being very professional, they understand what we do is a hard job and they really try to understand what it’s like being in our shoes.