I’ve wanted to foster ever since I was at school. My best friend was in foster care and had a bad experience, so I always thought that this would be a way for me to make a positive difference. Paul and I considered fostering very carefully as we wanted to make sure our own children were fully comfortable with our wish to become foster carers and ready to become a foster family at an age where they could understand what was happening. We also wanted to make sure our wider family group was fully supportive, which they are.
When we first began to look into things, we made initial enquiries to see a different fostering agency, but didn’t feel that the advice we received was the best or that the support was there so it put us off. A few weeks later, we heard a radio ad Fostering Solutions and visited our local office in Wrexham. Fostering Solutions was fantastic – the team went through our concerns, were great listeners and explained everything in such a supportive manner that we wanted to go ahead straight away.
We were approved to foster in April 2014 and received our first placement over the Easter holidays – a teenage boy. We initially had concerns about having a teenager, but he actually got along really well with our own boys who are eight and ten years old. He stayed with us for 12 weeks before moving to be closer to his friends and our children still ask about him a year on. We couldn’t have asked for a more positive first placement experience as foster carers.
In October last year we were asked to consider a sibling group of seven on an emergency placement. We understand this would be a lot for most people, but we couldn’t imagine the thought of these children being split up so didn’t hesitate to offer a placement to all of the children.
It was very hard at first and there were some huge challenges to overcome. The washing machine broke three times in as many weeks which sums up how busy and hectic life was! But it was also extremely rewarding to see the children respond and adapt to family life. We currently still have four of the seven with us - the younger children have been found another placement as it is the intention they are put forward for adoption. We really hope that the four remaining children will be able to stay with us on a long term basis.
There were some really tough times – they didn’t like to have water near their heads and some of them wouldn’t even go near the bath or shower. We took them to Splashworld and after overcoming some initial fears they had a wonderful time. To see this group of brothers and sisters all having such a lovely time together, laughing and having fun was truly a wow moment and there’s been lots of moments like this.
When they came to us at first, the youngest children were very poorly. We have helped them to grow, get stronger and healthier. The four year old was an elective mute and wouldn’t talk to women at all, so for him to learn to trust me enough to hold full conversations with me has been one of the greatest feelings in the world. One of the children could barely communicate and was very withdrawn. He is now doing well at school and can’t wait to get home to read his book to us. These are the very reasons I wanted to foster in the first place - to make a difference to children’s lives and we’ve had some fantastic outcomes.
Fostering Solutions has provided amazing support throughout. I was a nursery nurse for 20 years and have always been used to having large groups of children around me which has no doubt helped, but it doesn’t make fostering any less challenging. Paul is a full-time teacher of boys with SEBD (social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties) so has lots of experience of challenging children. To be given hands on support by Fostering Solutions on a daily basis when we needed it has been really helpful and continues to this day. We also love the training programmes on offer and meeting with other foster carers.