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It’s been a year since my last blog and the time has gone past so fast for my wife (Sandra) and I (Debby), so much has happened and we have come so far. Really can’t believe it is coming up to three years since we started to foster. I was going to start this blog by saying that we are still excepted as valid foster parents with no pre-perceived ideas with us being a same sex couple but to be honest there is more prejudice now towards looked after children in society than we encounter. We are just Sange and Deb to everyone we come across but the children are looked after children, foster kids, kids in care. There are so many labels put on children in the system and sometimes that is all that people see. All looked after children need is a loving home with plenty of compassion and normality and boundaries to make them feel safe and a bedroom of their own of course. Any negativity we have previously faced in life because of being a same sex couple can only give us a bit of empathy for the prejudice that looked after children face.
Our young lady is still with us which makes just over one year, she is 14 years old and growing like a bean sprout and taller than myself now. When she arrived, there was only ever talk about the short term when she referred to her future but now she talks in the long term which is good and which tells me that she must feel settled and sees a future here. Recently (touch wood) school has been settling down and our young lady is starting the journey to catching up on schooling which is such a relief as you worry about the children’s futures and want them to have as many opportunities and choices as possible. It is sometimes a slow road but all worth it in the end. Our young lady has just started on the Youth Council through Fostering Solutions which she is really looking forward to. This week they will be learning interview techniques and may be asked to sit in on interview processes for potential foster careers or social workers. She has also been put on training for Staying Safe which is great so our young lady has plenty to do including Mondays youth club and Weekend Stage Coach in singing, dancing and acting.
We all have made so many memories and been on lots of adventures and a couple of holidays. We have got a passport now for our young lady and she is so excited to be going abroad this year, she is a bit apprehensive about the plane but I am more than sure she will love it.
Personally, there has been so much coming my way and I have learnt so much, as with life it is a continuous learning process. I have started Helping Hands which was set up to help and support other foster carers when they are going through challenging times. I love doing this role as who better than another foster carer to know what you are feeling and to be able to chat or off load to. I have also recently started Buddy’s which was also set up to aid potential foster carers in and around the panel process as we can talk about or answer questions that potential carers may have regarding the role. As per usual there has been lots of invaluable training which I still love going on provided by Fostering Solutions who have also started weekend training for the second carer as they have work commitments. I have also started in October 2016 an Open University BSc (Honours) Psychology Degree so I have plenty to keep me busy.
There has been a couple of bumps in the road, but nothing that we didn’t get through as a family. Start every day fresh with a clean slate is still my philosophy, every day is a new day with a million possibilities. I am still so thankful I made that first call to start fostering, I cannot imagine my life without the madness of kids in it and the good times absolutely outweigh the challenges and not just in the challenges with your looked after children, there can be challenges in fighting your child’s corner for what is there right.
We have had two bereavements over the last couple of months which can be hard on looked after children as it can bring back memories of any loss they may have had and it is also difficult for kids to deal with your emotions even though you try to hide your sadness, you are only human. Once again all at Fostering Solutions have been a rock to us whilst managing to put a big smile on our faces when a lovely bunch of flowers that arrived from Cheryl and the Fostering Solutions team. Fay, my supervising social worker, has gone over and beyond once again by picking up our young lady from school and dropping her at home when we went to the funeral. Fay is always at the other end of the phone when we need a talk with endless support.
All in all it has been a fabulous year and as always there is nothing I would rather be doing than fostering, like I have said previously it is not a job to me it is just my life. So, my advice to anybody no matter if they are part of the LGBT community or not is just to go for it if fostering is something you want to do, all it takes is a phone call and they can answer any questions or worries you may have. It will be the best and most rewarding phone call you will ever make.
With thanks to Fostering Solutions