21st June, 2023
It’s learning disability week, and we here at Capstone are proud to stand with Mencap, dispelling misconceptions about those living with a learning disability and also shining a light on some of the wonderful work that is happening, right here, within our Capstone team.
Recently, we caught up with Paul and Diane who foster two children, their foster son, who has a disability and their foster daughter who lives with emotional and behavioural issues. On top of this they also support a child, also with disabilities, with regular breaks. These young people all have a chance in life, thanks to the couple.
Diane has always lived in a fostering household, she grew up with foster siblings, which she loved although she witnessed firsthand how hard it was on her family to say goodbye when the children moved on.
However, she set this difficulty aside in 2011, when, having worked as an administrative assistant in the local council’s Children’s and Families team, she could see how needed foster carers were – her and Paul had to do something, and they became foster parents themselves.
Then came the incredible Paralympics of 2016. Diane and Paul were inspired. Fate intervened and the couple were sent a referral for a trio of siblings, one disabled. With the Paralympics fresh on their minds, seeing all that those with a disability could achieve with the right encouragement, the couple agreed, despite having no formal training.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Their foster son is 15 now, although he has the learning age of a 7-year-old. Diane told us,
“Getting him transferred to our doctors, finding him the right paediatrician, as well as learning how to cater to his specific needs. It was a lot. Of course, you have your dark moments when you wonder if you have done the right thing. But now we wouldn’t change a thing.”
Diane and Paul continue still, always striving to give him better opportunities with their constant support. Indeed, the couple say that he is much changed from when he first arrived and he would barely speak, now they use words like ‘cheeky’ and ‘resilient’ to describe his character, both beaming as they do. With the right support now in place, thanks to the hard work of his foster parents, he also attends mainstream school which has a special needs unit, giving a slice of the normal life he so deserves.
“This is his home. We love him.”
Were Paul’s exact words to us when we asked what the future holds. Their bond is clear, as is the fact that their foster son will remain with them beyond the age of 18. They said that their family barely register his disability now, it is part of him and they accept all of his unique quirks.
Diane also talked of aspirations for college and employment, which is incredible to hear. Diane and Paul come across as very humble, often referring to themselves as ‘getting on with it’, when they are nothing short of exceptional. Their quiet positivity and support has lifted this young man up, now allowing his potential to shine through.
Wise words for anyone who is considering fostering. It is with this in mind that the family support him in his hobbies and passions, understanding that it is impossible for him to simply pop out with his friends. Instead, the family can often be found spending their Saturdays on the buses, taking trips and stopping off for lunch together, encouraging his passion for transportation.
If you’ve got any questions or would like to find out more about fostering with Capstone, fill out the form below.
An experienced fostering advisor from your local area will then be in touch.