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Meet Lisa and Andrew

I always knew I wanted to do something that helped improve other’s lives as I was growing up. I was brought up with my father who was a single parent which was quite unusual back then. I didn’t have an awful childhood but growing up was difficult and I had a feel for what it was like to be abandoned when my mum left.

I always knew I wanted to do something that helped improve other’s lives as I was growing up. I was brought up with my father who was a single parent which was quite unusual back then. I didn’t have an awful childhood but growing up was difficult and I had a feel for what it was like to be abandoned when my mum left.

I looked into surrogacy to start with, but after a difficult birth with my 2nd child, we felt like this was not the right path for us. We also looked into offering respite care to children coming over from Chernobyl but ended up housing foreign students when they came over to the UK for a while. Fostering was then recommended to us by a couple that we knew and so our fostering journey started from there.

The process for us to become foster carers took around a year and then we waited a while to be matched. The wait is quite hard, as from the minute you apply you’ve set your heart on becoming foster carers and you just want to get started.

During our time as foster carers, we have had two children who have gone on to be adopted. I’ve found this type of fostering to be so incredibly rewarding. The process of a child moving from foster care into being adopted by another family lasts around six weeks. During that time, as foster carers, you get to meet the new adoptive parents regularly; they come to your home and gradually start taking over the different routines. Some people might find this quite intrusive, but I just loved it. Talking about goodbyes is something that all foster carers think about, but what a wonderful goodbye when you know a child is going on to a permanent loving family and you have had the opportunity to get to know them. You would never push for contact to be maintained as a foster carer in such circumstances, however on both occasions the adoptive families have stayed in touch with us and send us regular updates and progress which we just love.

A goodbye when a placement hasn’t quite worked out can be so much harder. I often think about all the children we have fostered over the years. Every one of them stays with you.

We have two birth children and they have always been happy for us to be foster carers. We wouldn’t have taken that step if they hadn’t been, as it’s so important that everyone in the household is fully on board. You can be naïve to start with as a newly approved foster carer. I thought it would be lovely to have a foster child the same age as my daughter. With experience, I now know this isn’t such a good idea. Jealousy can be a hard emotion for children to deal with, but being a foster carer is all about being able to manage these different situations and ensuring that everyone in your household feels equally valued and part of the family. A foster child who is either much younger or much older than your birth children can often work out really well.

There are some things that stand out when we look back that make fostering so worthwhile.

One of our foster children coming downstairs for his first Christmas with us, for example. He just danced around the lounge in delight and said he’d never felt so happy. For another young girl, it was seeing her become relaxed and less fearful about different things that she would previously get emotional about due to past experiences (like spilling a drink).  

We do a lot of respite foster care during the holidays. We see this time as the foster children’s holiday too, so we always do lots of fun things with them. One child said that he’d had such a good time, he could burst inside. Another of our respite placements didn’t feel too happy to begin with, but we’ve got a horse and some goats and as soon as we went down to the farm, he just completely changed and absolutely loved it.

These moments really do make you smile and to be able to give these experiences is invaluable.

Fostering is and isn’t as I expected it to be. The challenges are as we expected, but the children’s reactions to the care you give them as foster carers can be different to what you’d initially think, due to the trauma they may have experienced. You know that you are making a huge difference to their lives, but this shows in very subtle ways sometimes, rather than in the ways you might initially expect. It’s the little things and the little comments that make you realise.

To anyone thinking about fostering…

…we would say to talk with your family first and make sure that they are fully on side. Older children can really struggle so it’s always important that everyone in your household is on the same page.

When you do decide to go for it, make sure that you continue to look after yourself. Self-care is so important. You shouldn’t be scared to take respite care if you need to. You might start off thinking that you don’t want to, but it’s important to take that time if you need to.

My horse is my saviour for self-care. You need to have something that’s just for you, or somewhere you can go where you can totally switch off. Having this helps you to be a better foster carer.

The support and training you receive at Capstone Foster Care is really good. I preferred the face-to-face training sessions before COVID came along and being able to chat to other foster carers in that setting, but the walk and talk sessions in the meantime have been great.

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