Julie and Michael have been fostering for 7 years now. They tell us what motivated them to become foster carers and how seeing the positive changes in the young people in their care and building trust keeps them going.
Our initial motivation to become foster carers was that we’d both had amazing parents and childhoods growing up. We didn’t have our own children and we really wanted to give something back and help children who hadn’t had such good childhoods.
We’ve been fostering now for 7 years and when we see those positive changes in the children in our care and how we’ve managed to build that trust with them; that’s what motivates and keeps us going now.
For our first placement, we felt a mixture of nerves and excitement. It’s such a gift to be given the care of these children. It’s so scary for them coming into a new home. Your normal isn’t their normal and they need some stability in their lives to help them to feel safe.
It takes a lot of time and work to turn things around. Some of the problems you are dealing with are so complex. We can sometimes hear well intentioned advice from other (non-foster) parents, but they don’t realise that a child with a traumatic past has such different needs. Where there has been neglect, the brain isn’t wired in quite the same way. As foster parents it’s about gradually untangling those wires. It can sometimes feel like a thankless task when you’re in the thick of it, but then you see those changes and you get that trust and it’s the most incredible feeling.
The small things are the big things. One child we have looked after would never smile or talk. He was always so serious due to his past. Now he’s always smiling and has such a brilliant sense of humour. That trust takes so long to build, but once you have it, you treasure it.
Another child we cared for had learning difficulties. We fought for her to get the extra support she needed in school and her writing now is just amazing.
We fostered two Muslim boys who are now doing brilliantly. When you foster children, it’s so incredibly important to learn about their heritage and respect their religion whilst they are in your care. They still come and visit us at Christmas. We are so proud of them.
To anyone thinking about fostering, I would say to speak with as many experienced foster carers as you can to prepare yourself as much as possible. Becoming a foster carer is so much more than bringing up a child, because they have such complex behaviours. Children in foster care need a strong foundation without the risk of being let down. Keep an open mind and once you’ve gained that trust with a foster child, it really is the most precious gift you can have.
The training and support at Capstone Foster Care is just amazing. We’ve had the most incredible social worker who gets to know the children so well. Whatever is promised is always followed through. We chose Capstone because we felt we really wanted that extra support.
Thank you so much to Julie and Michael for sharing their experience of fostering so far. If you’re thinking of fostering and would like to take their advice and speak to other foster carers, we can absolutely arrange that for you. It’s an important part in the journey to becoming a foster carer. Take a look at our Fundamentals of Foster Care events for an opportunity to meet an experienced foster carer and ask some questions.