Antony and Heather were 57 and 53 years old respectively, when they started fostering and the remember thinking they may be too old, turns out this wasn’t the case having looked under children in short term and long-term placements.
Having had a challenging upbringing myself, I always knew I wanted to make a difference and was shocked to find out how much had changed when taking care of children and young people in care. It had definitely changed, in a positive way.
I’d never been sure whether because of my own background I felt the need to help children in care however, I always knew that I felt an overwhelming empathy towards children who were experiencing challenges in their lives. Heather was bought in large family setting and also felt very passionate about making a difference and, we were determined to do it together.
We bought up our two sons, who have both gone on to join the Armed Forces, and we feel very proud of what they have achieved and realising we had done a great job with their upbringing we decided that we were ready to find out more about fostering. Our family home felt very quiet, we had spare bedrooms and we wanted to change a life.
One of my sons was very surprised at the idea of us fostering however, he was very supportive of our decision as was our other son. We talked about openly and reassured them that it was natural to feel some anxiety and feel protective, but we would be fine.
We approached Capstone and started our foster care journey. We were visited by Capstone in our home and they asked us many questions however, it also gave us the opportunity to ask them questions about becoming foster parents.
The assessment process was rigorous, but we expected it to be and whilst it can sometimes be described as intrusive, we didn’t feel that was the case. We both felt it was absolutely right to be asked about our backgrounds, our own upbringings and own family life however positive and negative that might be, all which we could draw from to make us good foster carers.
Finally, we were approved as foster parents, me as the main carer as Heather continues to work 3 days a week which absolutely fine as her job role was flexible enough to allow her to be part of all meetings we had and continue to have.
Our first placement was an emergency placement which ended up lasting 2 years and our second placement also started as an emergency placement as is still with us today, although he will be joining the Army as a confident young man.
When we were first asked to take our first placement, we were nervous, ‘could we cope’ and what was going to happen’. We overcame our nervousness together and despite its challenges we learned a lot from the placement and feel we did all we could for the child. The most rewarding thing about fostering is when your told that others can see a difference in a child you have been looking after and when the children you look after make comments such as ‘I wish I’d be in care earlier’. It is after all about making a change and a positive impact on their lives.
In the most part, fostering and being a foster parent has been what we expected, the commitment is huge. It’s not like bringing up your own children and sometimes it can feel like your life is on hold, so you have to be 101% sure that foster care is for you before taking on this responsibility.
We’ve been supported by Capstone during our journey and we can’t fault the measures taken to make sure we have all that we need, not only for us but for also the children we have cared for.