Foster Carer Talks. Fostering Over 50

14th April, 2023

We were lucky enough to catch up with Capstone Foster Carer Phyllis recently,  here is her story in her own words...

"In my living room there’s a pile of letters and cards that children I’ve fostered have sent me.

Fostering Over 50

Over the last 21 years, 22 children have come to stay, some for a few months and some for a few years - so as you can imagine it’s quite a thick pile.

The first children I fostered were seven and eight at the time, a brother and sister. That little boy turned 30 last week and he still comes to visit (and raid the fridge!) and calls me ‘Mum’.

He was in the army for five years, and when he came home on leave he’d give me his dirty washing, just like any other son.

And I still go shopping with two of my former foster kids - now 18 and 20 - and the aunty they moved in with after me.

Social media means others have started getting in touch, too. Recently one 15-year-old girl messaged me having remembered the time she spent here when she was four.

"With six birth children, 15 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren, some people might say I’ve earned the right to put my feet up. But I’m not your average 78-year-old. I’m still decorating my house and climbing up a ladder to reach the ceiling!"

 

And sitting around isn’t my way. I’m now taking care of L, who’s 15. She’s been with me for seven years, and she definitely keeps me young.

I’d always had a busy household, as my six children were born quite quickly one after another.

 

Why Foster? To fill your home with love

And after my husband Alan died 30 years ago, I needed to fill the house up again - and do something to help at the same time.

 

"I was 56 when I started fostering - a bit like “a second act” I suppose."

 

L was almost eight when she arrived, and had been through many placements already as she’d entered the care system aged four.

A few years in, she started testing me to see how long it would be before I asked her to leave. But instead I told her she was going nowhere, and she settled down.

Aged 15, she’s a typical teen and is definitely testing my boundaries like any other teenager. But she’s been rejected a lot in her past so I won’t reject her. She’s the most important person in my life.

We went through a devastating loss five years ago with the sudden death of my eldest daughter, Angela.

L was 10 at the time, and such a support to me. In fact, she gave me a reason to get up every day.

Fostering and the family

I’m lucky because my whole family is there for me. My daughter, Beverley, and her husband, Dave, live across the road from me. They’re almost like L’s second parents, and Dave is a great role model for her.

In fact, Beverley is now classed as a second carer and gets the pay and training like any other carer.

The fact they’re so close by means that they can pop round if L is having a tough time. Just taking her out for a walk is a good chance for her to chat through what’s on her mind.

Having birth children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren means I’ve developed a sixth sense to how teens work.

One day L announced that she was going to a friend’s house for a sleepover. I told her I wanted to speak to her friend’s mum first.

I phoned when L was at their house, but was first told that the mum was in the shower. The next time I called, apparently she’d gone to bed because she was tired.

I knew I was being misled, and told L I was coming to get her straight away. Later, L asked me how I knew she was lying about the friend’s mum. “I’m an expert in teenagers”, I told her.

 

How do you cope with saying goodbye?

People have asked me in the past how I can bear to get so close to foster children, only to see them leave.

But to me that’s the whole point. I want to see them on their way, knowing I’ve helped them see what a happy, warm family home can be like.

There’s that classic threat you see people saying on TV: “If you don’t behave, you’ll be put in care”.

Of course, in an ideal world every child would be looked after by loving parents. But if they can’t be, I think fostering can be a positive thing and foster children tend to have good lives. Kids don’t tend to think that at the time, of course, because they don’t fully understand what’s going on.

I remember a girl I fostered when she was 10. She was desperate to live with her mum, but her mum couldn’t cope with being a parent. The girl is all grown up now, and is now able to see that coming to me was a good thing after all. She messaged me recently to say “Thank you for having me in your lovely home”.

I’ve grown to love all the kids who have been with me 24/7. Yes, of course fostering is a job but it’s so much more than a job to me. And I feel incredibly proud of my “second act”."

 

If Phyllis’s story has resonated with you and you are ready for your ‘second act’, get in touch today and speak to one of our friendly advisors on 0800 012 4004.

 

Thinking of fostering?

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