Chris and Nicola have been fostering with FosterCare UK for over 23 years, read their fostering journey here.
Nicola and I have been foster carers for 23 years and we have always been with FosterCare UK.
Nicola’s mum and dad were foster carers, so she had always been around foster children growing up. It was always something that we both wanted to do as a career as well. We both worked in different industries before deciding to become foster carers, I worked as a gym instructor as well as a PE teacher and Nicola worked as a beauty therapist. The change in career has been the best choice we made, we are now able to provide a safe and loving environment to lots of children who need this, it is not often you can say that you are making a real difference in your job but we know for sure we are in our roles. It is amazing to see the positive changes in the children and young people we have cared for.
When we told our friends and families, we were going to start fostering some were supportive and loved the idea however, not everyone was on the same page. They did not understand the concept of fostering and were confused as to why we would care for children who were not our own. Unfortunately, we have lost a few friends throughout our fostering journey because of the nature of our role, they could not cope with the types of placements we were caring for. It is a shame, but we are happy and losing a few friends along the away is a pale comparison to the huge impact we have on children and young people’s lives. We have made new friends since becoming foster carers, there is not many in our local area which is a shame, but we have made friends though training and meetings.
When we first started fostering, we had put our preferences as 0-18 years old placements which meant we were able to care for many young people within this age range. After discussing it with each other, we decided to specialise in parent and child placements as we wanted to progress in our careers and we know there was and still is a real need for parent and child foster carers in our area. Of course, this type of placement has it’s challenges compared to the standard placement but we wanted to help parents coming into the foster system who don’t have the support of their family to learn how to care for their baby.
There were many challenges we faced when caring for parent and child placements, these included caring for adults who had strong opinions of their own, they had their own likes and dislikes, and their own way of living which was very hard for us to deal with at times. We reminded ourselves that they have been placed into foster care to learn how to look after their baby and that must be a hard experience for them to be going through.
Sometimes, they are facing other battles at the same time, we have had to care for placements who had drug abuse issues, as well as other surrounding issues and we felt like the system just doesn’t work in favour of them at all which doesn’t seem fair. As foster carers, we always provide the best care possible and help them to find the right path, so they can continue their journey with their baby and start a family of their own.
We do still keep in touch with most of our placements, some still call us mum and dad which is lovely to hear and knowing we have made a positive impact on their lives, as well as their children lives makes this job even more worthwhile. Not all placements have kept in touch, especially when they have been unable to keep their baby but we understand that, we do not expect our placements to all keep in touch but it is nice when they do. Our door is always open for them, even if they just need advice or a little bit of guidance, we are always here for them regardless of how long ago they moved on from our home.
All the children we have cared for over the past 23 years are still very much part of the family, we want to emphasise that when you become a foster carer, you are taking on a role which involves the whole family.
The best thing about being foster carers is seeing the positive changes in the children and young people we care for, it is also amazing to see that with our help they have turned out to be well-rounded people. I used to work with children before as a PE teacher and it is great that I am still able to make a difference to children’s lives. Fostering has been exactly what we expected it to be, of course we had the insight into it already because of Nicola’s parent’s also being foster carers so nothing has been a shock to the system!
Our birth children have been very supportive of our decision to become foster carers but at times they do find it difficult. When we have had difficult placements where they sometimes throw verbal abuse at us, it can be hard for our birth children to stand by and watch. However, we have made some lovely memories together with our foster children and birth children, and there are so many highs compared to the lows, so it is all worth it.
The support we have received from FosterCare UK has been amazing, there is always someone there at the end of the phone if we ever need to ask a question or have a problem. We have been fostering for a long time now and we are at the stage of our career where we do everything ourselves and know what the processes are but it is good to know the support is always available if we ever need it.
We definitely would recommend fostering to our friends and families, and even to people who are reading this but we do want to emphasise that it takes a special someone to open up their home and provide loving care to those in need of it. It would be great to see more foster carers in our local area as there are many children here who need safe, loving homes.