Linda and Martin
We are Linda and Martin Davis, foster parents for approximately 30 years. Fostering is a way of life to us. At one time we were the ‘mum and dad’ figure for the children we fostered, now I feel we are the grandparent figure.
We have had several sibling groups to stay with us, some for a few months, others for a number of years and then our family of five that changed their status from fostering to adoption and stayed for a lifetime! Now they are helping us to support today’s youngsters that come to spend time with us. Being older offers experience built up over the years to understand the ongoing needs of the children that join us.
Our family comprises of eight youngsters and eight grandchildren that live locally, all of whom are exceptionally supportive of our decisions to continue to foster now that we have retired from our busy working lives. We are fortunate enough to have many other foster children that keep in touch with us and enjoy their visits and their invitations to their weddings and christenings or other celebrations.
What really matters is that we are able to to be empathetic towards their situation and offer the guidance they need in the absence of family members whilst allowing them to adjust and accept their current position and help them to support their future move back to family or to cope and accept a move to long term foster carers or even to be adopted.
The rewards are phenomenal, not least the satisfaction that as each child moves on, you know that you have done the best you can for that child. Providing the care needed, supporting educationally, after school activities, opening their eyes to new experiences, new places, and helping them to develop their own inner strengths. All of these and more shape a child’s future or at least offers them an alternative lifestyle, to the one they had so you are giving them opportunities to rethink their own futures too.
So we reached the stage of saying it was time to retire from fostering and yet here we are still doing it! Why? Because having extended our house to accommodate our birth children and our adopted children, we were left rattling around our many bedroomed house, that empty feeling then lived with us especially when I neared retirement age too. So I wrote about our family experiences to help all our children understand why we fostered and the many shapes and sizes that our family took. This got us all thinking again and realising than in our child orientated world, and with the house geared towards fostering, yet empty, we were wasting our time not using the resources we had around us. So we approached Capstone Foster Care to see if we could be of any value to them
Their response was exceptionally positive, ‘no you are not too old, have you got a spare bedroom?’. When I answered at least 4 rooms, my details could not have been taken quickly enough. We were invited to the introduction to fostering course, and before we knew it the ball was rolling.
The suggestion was that we considered Parent and Child placements. Initially I was hesitant as I felt that I was used to being the primary carer for our children, but then when I thought about it I realised it would mean doing what I had done for own youngsters when their children came along. Just as they needed support, so did many other young mums with their new infants, yet they had very little support on offer. Now was the time to put those skills into practise and hand down the knowledge we have gained to others. I also felt this would hopefully prevent some children coming into care at a later stage, if we could encourage these new mums to have a strong bond with their baby.
We have had several ‘mum and baby’ placements. Mums with their newborns have arrived knowing they will be here for a twelve week assessment of their abilities to care for their baby, but also have an opportunity to learn more about childcare, budgeting, time organisation, relationships and discovering their own ability to cope perhaps as a single mum. They also have a chance to discover more about themselves and recognise how and where to ask for appropriate support.
Throughout all of this, Capstone could not have been more supportive. They offer regular supervisions which enable us to gain support that we may need, as as a go-between with the local authorities, they have provided us with up to date, relevant training, a reliable out of hours service able to provide us with the answers we need when we need them.
Capstone have also provided our children with memory boxes children’s activity days, educational support both in school and during the holidays too.
To witness these insecure mums who arrive struggling to cope, becoming more confident young women making a stronger bond with baby as they rise to their responsibilities is just wonderful.
I believe anyone who has considered fostering should consider Capstone, they will not be let down. Capstone is a phone call away, for us as foster carers and for you to start your journey as one.