Chris and I have been fostering with Capstone since our approval in June 2011.
My mum was fostered as a young girl and her foster mum is who I know as my nan. My aunt and uncle were also foster carers when I was growing up, so I was always around foster children. With these experiences, I knew fostering was something I also wanted to do but I needed to wait until the time was right and that time was 11 years ago.
Chris and I knew each other as children but after both going on to have our own families and wonderful children, we ended up coming back to one another later in life and began our new life together. We each had 2 children from previous relationships but once they had all grown up and moved out, we suddenly had the space and we knew that it was the right time for us to start a new chapter and begin fostering. What was even more amazing is that our own children were happy for us to start this venture and even happy to help out.
We already had a friend who fostered, and they recommended Capstone to us. So, I did a little research online, checked out a few other agencies and then took the step. Capstone just seemed right for us due to its location and its values. The way we were spoken to, we immediately knew that we would be looked after, and this was confirmed within our initial home visit, which led us to know it was the right choice. So, we put in our application and started the process.
The assessment itself was fine. All I would say is that you must be honest about your life, even about things that are less comfortable to talk about. The process can feel quite intrusive but that is understandable because you are going to be looking after someone else’s child. After the assessment was completed, it was time for panel and although we were both nervous, it was just like an interview. We were asked lots of questions, some that we were not expecting, and you are always thinking ‘what do we do if they say no’ but I think that is normal. Then came the moment where we were recommended for approval and that was so lovely and exciting. We could not wait and wanted to get started straight away!
We started off by doing some respite for a few weeks here and there to gain some experience and that way we could wait for the right longer-term match. We were anxious before our first placement arrived as we weren’t quite sure what to expect and wanted it to go well and for the children to be happy. So, we opened our door for the first time to two young children and the anxiety just went straight away, as we looked at them and realised that they are just children and we just need to be there for them. This was a great first placement and allowed us to understand our role even better. After 2 weeks we said our goodbyes and honestly, it is always really hard because you create a bond even in a short amount of time, but I still have a card from the parents of this placement thanking us for the care we gave and that makes it all worth it.
Following our respite period, we then took on our first longer-term placement which we were both excited about. Unfortunately, this placement wasn’t to last and we had to go through an emotional allegation which was thoroughly investigated. We knew this was a possible reality when we took on the role of fostering but this really did test us. It happened so early on and really was one of the worst feelings in the world. However, we worked through it, all allegations were dropped and now we could not be happier that we stuck it out. Now we are 8 years into our second, long term placement and it is going great! We had 2 brothers, one of which is now living independently and another who is off to university next year and we could not be prouder. It has been a great 8 years with lots of adventures and great memories made. We also have 2 more placements with us now and all are doing so well and making great progress.
When I am asked if fostering is what I expected my answer is no… it’s so much more. You get the good, the bad and then you get the damn amazing! In my opinion, you get out what you put in. If you treat the children how they should be treated, care for them, steer them in the right direction then you get a lot more out of it than even they do. I get to watch them grow into lovely functioning young people who are ready for the world and it is such a different world to what they have known.
I also get to be proud of myself and Chris as we have helped them get there. Our hard work and patience have helped them become who they are. By accepting that young person for who they are and not analysing them, we are able to nurture them and let them develop at there own pace. We are just down to earth normal people; me an ex-hairdresser and Chris is ex-army. The routine and structure of army life has certainly helped Chris as a foster carer. He has patience and is able to control a difficult situation and keep things calm.
Our advice is lots of laughter, it really is one of the most important things. Yes, they need somewhere safe and secure, but they also need to have happiness and laughter is happiness.
Looking back over the last 11 years, it really has been a journey and we can’t thank Capstone enough for being there with us all of the way. Capstone truly do care about you and I feel valued. They respect me, Chris and the children placed with us and always let us know what a brilliant job we are doing. Capstone are brilliant to be honest and if I had to describe them in one word, it would be ‘reliable’. I would not hesitate to recommend them as a fostering agency!