After getting married, Phoebe and Dan started to think about what was next for them. They started researching becoming foster carers, found out that they needed spare bedroom, so they moved home, applied to become foster parents and were approved as foster carers in November 2019.
I have always had an interest in health and social care and have experience in working in adult care services. It was after we had moved in together, got married and began thinking about our next steps in life that I started looking into becoming a foster carer and what the requirements were.
It's more unusual to have foster carers our age (we are aged 24 and 26), as many people consider becoming foster carers later on in life. We came across a foster carer on social media of a similar age to us who had also begun fostering before having children of her own and following this journey inspired us to make an enquiry with Capstone Foster Care. I decided to attend an informal information event to find out more and ended up chatting for 2 hours!
We weren’t quite ready to go ahead at that point due to the house we were living in, but we took some time to do lots of research, reading and meeting with other foster carers. Once we were moved and settled into our new home, we then had our first visit with Rebecca and the assessment process started soon after and we were delighted to be approved at panel in November 2019.
We found the application process friendly and easy to understand. All questions asked of us have been appropriate and reasonable. The panel stage was daunting, but we really shouldn’t have worried as the members of our panel did make us feel at ease!
We had known about our first placement for over a month before he came to us, so I didn’t really feel nervous to start with. Then the day came to collect him and the nerves really did kick in at this point. It’s impossible to explain the feeling of picking up a child who doesn’t know you and you don’t know them and bringing them home. My heart was in my chest and you’re all of a sudden overwhelmed with imposter syndrome and the feeling of “can we really do this?” because you just care so much about this child.
When you live with someone, you become accustomed to each other quite quickly though. Just 6 weeks later, the first lockdown happened, so this was quite an intense period for us all with the extra pressures of home-schooling, etc.
When he first arrived, he was very behind with his speech and language and because he struggled to communicate and people couldn’t understand him well, he just didn’t bother to talk. We always encouraged him, included him and gave him the opportunity to talk with us. One day, after one of the lockdowns, his teacher came out to us to tell us that she had had a wonderful conversation with him which was just phenomenal. It’s the little things like this that make you realise what a huge difference you can make to a child’s life.
I’m also super proud that I’ve taught him to love to read. He was years behind in his reading previously but has now caught up and is surpassing his expected learning age.
When we first thought about fostering, I had in my head a picture of a baby or a toddler coming to live with us until either their parents could have them back or until they were adopted. We hadn’t realised there were so many older children in need of long-term placements. Whilst the placement type isn’t what I expected when we thought about fostering all that time ago, it’s better than I could have imagined. People might have a perception of older children in foster care and all the difficulties that might come along with that, but for us this hasn’t been the case at all. It’s been wonderful seeing family and friend’s perceptions change as they’ve got to know our foster child and seen the changes in him.
We also now have a baby who is 9 months old. It was such a big worry of mine that our foster child would feel pushed out after she was born, but in actual fact the absolute opposite has happened. It has cemented his place in our family even further as he has readily accepted that he is now a brother and therefore feels more comfortable with all our family roles along with his sister.
The hardest thing about being a foster carer is the lack of understanding sometimes of what a child has been through. People don’t always understand the different ways you may need to help a child who has been through trauma or the importance of sticking to what you say. An example might be if you’re out and have promised to be back at a certain time. You can’t just decide on a whim to stay out longer, as you are then removing the feeling of safety you are instilling which is so vital to a foster child. People don’t always understand.
I love that we have made a difference. I love that we’re his safe place. I love that he says he feels happy every day. I love his relationship with his sister and that she will grow up with fostering being normal, with empathy and to be able to accept people. Life is better because we foster.
I would say that these children need people that won’t give up on them. If you can’t give your absolute all, then fostering isn’t for you. If you can, it’s absolutely worth every moment.