Foster carer Anne

A foster carers experience

Becoming a foster carer

Fostered for years
Deciding to be a foster carer seven years ago turned out to be more work than I expected but on the other hand, the most rewarding thing I have done other than get married and have my own children.

Fostering is for the children and I do it for the right reasons, to keep them safe for themselves and their families. It’s often hard to let go but it’s great seeing a family coming together and that makes giving them back much easier.

There is a price to pay as a fostering family, you have to work out how to give everyone enough time and attention so we all feel part of the family all of the time. Not only me but my kids have benefited from being part of fostering.

Borrowed children’s belongings
Through the difficult times, especially when their things got ‘borrowed’ by foster children, my kids were helped by the thought that they will never have to leave their family and that there is someone out there in a worse position than they are. There were times though when they were glad when certain children were moving on!

Even when I looked after children who had a really hard time from their parents, I know that most often the best place for children is to be with their own families.

Not all the parents have been abusive, one child’s parents had died and a couple had to have serious operations but most children had been hurt in one way or another, mainly because their parents could not cope with looking after them.

Every child I looked after had experienced loss and grief and all of them had mixed emotions about not living with their parents. I know social workers try very hard to keep families together and the ones I worked with so far feel frustrated and sometimes even angry about the lack of choices and support they have to give to families……it all seems to come down to money.

Fostered children
All I know is the children I’ve fostered have only needed someone they can trust and a warm bed and good food to start feeling better. The next step has almost always been to make sure they have contact with their family which can bring it’s own problems, a big thing about being a foster carer means you need to help children keep in contact with their family.

Some, but not many children have been relieved to be in foster care but most want more than anything to be back with their families, even if a parent or relative has abused them. I haven’t met a foster child who wasn’t confused and angry about being put in foster care and when you talk to them they are either angry at themselves believing they are to blame, or angry at their parents for letting them down.

I see a big part of a foster carer’s job is to help a foster child to understand why they feel like they do and that they should feel ok about it. How can children and older kids cope with life without help? Life has dealt them a rotten hand sometimes and they need help to learn to cope. Sometimes they scream and yell, or run away, or hurt themselves, or hurt other people.

Recently I have been taking Parent and Child placements which offer a home to a baby or young child together with its parent. This is usually for a period for between 12-24 weeks. It may be that a parent has not had a good life and help from a foster carer can give them more skills and even a better chance to keep the child.