Every foster carer is different, as are the children they care for. Read our foster carer stories to find out more.
My name is Lauren and I’m a twenty-one year old who grew up within a foster-caring family for Bedford Borough. We have cared for, loved and encouraged placements ranging from six hour old newborns, to parent and child placements with forty year old mothers.
Our first placement was a twelve year old boy on a respite placement lasting two weeks. During those weeks we visited the seaside, climbed trees, swam seas and went to bed every night exhausted with the fresh air we’d had. He was so grateful to be bought his own pair of swimming trunks at the seaside - a twelve year old had never had a pair of his own. In return he presented my mum with a sea urchin shell which to this day resides in our family glass cabinet.
We have had some bad times, we’ve had some screaming and shouting, we’ve had some disagreements and some tears, but I would not change my family or what we all do for the world. To know that every day that I wake up I have the potential to be involved and change so many lives is humbling.
Saying goodbye was always a hard topic, but when one placement left to be adopted at two years old, the feelings of loss were soon replaced with knowing that this was why anyone fosters, to cement a future for every child and young person. One goodbye we have never had to have is a wonderful, kind, charming, handsome boy who came to us as an emergency placement. He has been with us for over seven years now, and is a living breathing example of how an emergency placement becomes longer term and how there is every possibility that I will have this little brother for the rest of my life.
Not only does fostering change the future of every child and young person in care, it also has astounding potential to change the future for every member of the family. Last week I turned twenty-one, and the day after my birthday I sent the email I’ve been waiting for years to send titled ‘fostering next steps’. I want to be a foster carer, and I have the motivation to do everything in my power to become a foster carer.
Mike and Helen’s story
With our daughter approaching four years old, we started looking into fostering in 2013. Along with the obvious altruistic reasons, we felt that fostering would give our daughter some life experiences to give her a well-rounded view of the world and the needs of others. We applied to be short-term carers but it was made clear to us that ‘short term’ could be any length of time, depending on the needs of the child.
The application process was detailed but simple enough – an assessor looked into our backgrounds, our reasons for fostering, our financial stability, support network, etc. As long as you are open and honest, it’s a fairly smooth process.
Our first experience was a long weekend with two lovely girls whose mum just needed a few days to find somewhere to live. While Social Services assisted her, we gave the kids a fun activity-filled weekend. The following year we had a number of placements, lasting between one day and 7 weeks, and we’ve seen a wide variety of reasons why kids come into care. Some children are more challenging than others, but both children and carers get support from Social Workers to make the placement a success.
Three years ago we took in a lad who came to us following an emergency removal from his home, and it soon became clear that he would never be returning home. Eighteen months later he was still with us, at which time a court decision was made to look for long term foster care for him. Against all our original intentions, we decided to take him on permanently. He has fit well into our family, and helping him to progress from a frightened, angry child into a happy and bright young man has been immensely rewarding. He still has some emotional issues, but he is getting all the help that he needs; Social Services and his school are very supportive.
We now consider ourselves a family of four.
Quotes from Kids Who Share
Kids Who Share are birth children of approved foster carers who share their family with foster children. We asked a group of Kids Who Share from the ages of 8 to 17 the question “Can you sum up in one sentence what it’s like being part of a fostering family?”.
Here are the responses:
- It’s really worth worthwhile because you get to change a child’s life and give them a home.
- Fostering is like having an extra sister to love.
- Fostering isn’t as easy as it looks. When the kids come you get used to them and when they go it’s sometimes hard to say goodbye.
- When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.
- Fostering isn’t easy, but the outcome is wonderful because you’ve changed someone’s life for the better.
- It’s hard to see them leave, but it’s good to see the change in the child.
- I get to share my parents.
- It’s difficult seeing a child leave our home after showing a strong bond and attachment.
- It’s good to know we’re helping someone.
- You need to learn to adapt to having brand new people.
- Sometimes children have to stay with people for a really long time, I feel sad for them.
- It’s difficult seeing the child leave especially after they’ve been with us for a while and we have got attached to them.
- We help kids get a new temporary family.
- I want people to know that I can’t answer all of their questions.
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