When we were first thinking of fostering, we thought of the good things like the development of a child/young person or helping them move on to better themselves. Little did we stop and look at the little details that have a big impact.
As you can imagine when I took on this challenge it really was making a change in my life, from having zero children to having one that would change the course of my life. Add in the fact that we are a same sex couple and this alone brings in challenges and new experience for all.
Before I can honestly say we were selfish and didn't need to worry about anyone but ourselves. We could do anything we wanted, go out with friends, party till the early hours and generally not really worry about the small things as long as bills were paid and money was coming in. Little did we need to think about activities to do or how to manage behaviour, things that were not of concern for us as a childless couple.
This changed with one placement. That moment with the door knocking and having no idea what is going to happen. I had questions racing through my mind – am I ready? Can we do this? What if this goes wrong?
Gone were the days of watching Dexter or American Horror Story only to be replaced with Scooby Doo and Clifford the Big Red Dog. I realized how our lifestyle changed; you really do become more active. I discovered more about myself, what skills I had and what I had to learn.
In truth there are times when you wish it was just the two of you but then wonderful things happen where your child becomes “star of the month” who receives a “100% attendance” award. Things that wouldn't have happened before, and it makes you so proud to think you helped make this happen. Something so small yet ever lasting.
It’s the joyous moments when I see him smile when I collect him from school or when I take an interest in his schoolwork and go to parent’s evenings.
Of course there will be dark days, as they always say, life is a rollercoaster and its how we ride. There are times when a child is destructive and trash things in the house and all you can think of is how much there is to clean up or this would never have happened if it was just the two of us.
Little do we realise this is a cry for help and by standing by them they will be a better person. They will succeed in life with our guidance and support. It's the “thousand mile journey, which begins with the first step”.
It’s the emotions we go through on this journey. I will never laugh as much, I will never cry out loud as much and I will never feel such a wonderful feeling when that little difference is recognised by my peers and the parents too which is really positive for the young person.
It’s about growing up and becoming that adult. That parent. That person, who, suddenly, has to communicate more than ever to help grow and develop my own relationship and that of the child.
This is what makes a foster carer. Foster care means never giving up, standing by the child and taking that leap into a new world and expecting the unexpected. Each day is different and ever evolving but with passion, drive, support and encouragement this is a career that is ever lasting and really makes a difference.
With thanks to Fostering Solutions