Fostering Stories

We have looked after many children with all sorts of complex needs and at times it has been challenging. However it is the most rewarding thing we have ever done and I couldn’t imagine our life in any other way now. There are many children requiring a loving home and it has enriched our lives in so many ways. There is no magic to it, no skillset, just the ability to have patience, love and understanding. Become a foster carer, you can do it too.

Nathan & Steven’s Story

I have been fostering for just over two years and I have looked after four children aged between 0-4 years.

Like other jobs working with children, fostering can be very rewarding, even if it isn’t always easy. It requires patience, dedication, consistency and security. I have had many positive experiences and so many happy times. Some highlights for me have been seeing the look of excitement on a child's face when she visited a farm for the first time. We spent hours there looking at the animals but it was worth it to see the happiness it brought her. Seeing the reaction of a child who loved her new shoes so much that she would not take them off, even at bedtime! Also watching a child experience her first trip to the seaside. How thrilled she was making a sandcastle, collecting shells and then going for a paddle in the sea. Happy Times! To have the satisfaction of sharing and being part of these special milestones is wonderful.

The wide range of training courses that Walsall provide prepares you throughout each year for many of the challenges you may have to face. The support I have had from the team at Walsall Children’s Services has been excellent. There is always someone there to talk to. Right from the moment I made the call to them they were supportive. I was quite anxious to start with as being a single parent I wasn't sure what response I would get and if I would be made to feel different. I need not have worried. They gave me great advice, assistance and encouragement and that has continued right up to the present day.

Fostering is without a doubt the most rewarding job I have ever done. It has given me a real sense of satisfaction and achievement. To anyone considering fostering I would say if you can offer time and commitment then get in touch. It will probably be the best decision you ever made. It certainly was for me.

Bethany’s Story

Since my parents became foster carers I have been able to understand and appreciate what some children go through. I have so much empathy for them and I know that while they live with us they will be looked after very well. I love to help my mom with the little ones and play with them, with their toys. I enjoy showing the older children how to use a computer, as I am a bit of a geek! I can usually make the little ones laugh and giggle and I love to read to them. I realise that the children look to me as a big brother, and I try to conduct myself in a way that reflects a role model for them.

The only downside of fostering, for me, is when the children move on or return to birth family. I really do find this upsetting and will openly cry. This makes me feel like we have had a loss in the family, because they are all treated as part of our family. My experience as a foster brother has made me realise that I would like to work within this field of either foster carer, social work or support work with children.

Fostering, for me, is a positive experience. I admire the children that we have looked after because I know if I was taken away from my family, I don’t think I would cope. My mom is constantly amazed how quickly the children adapt into our family and always asks me to put myself in their shoes for a day! I still enjoy my quality time with my mom and dad and extended family and they make sure that this happens regularly.

I would have loved a younger brother but unfortunately my parents were unable to give me that, but they gave me the experience of 37 foster brothers and sisters! I’ve had a permanent foster sister for almost 6 years. There’s typical sibling rivalry, and we don’t get on all of the time, but I’m always happy to help her with homework and at least I have someone that in future years I can turn to..... hopefully!!!

Liam, aged 14 – Member of a fostering family

We have been proud foster carers for 6 years and have had 20 children placed so far. We were previously with a private fostering agency; transferring to the Walsall Council fostering team early this year. We are very pleased we made the change as we have had a wide range of placements and experiences already. We know that we have always got someone to turn to for advice or support whenever we need it.

Historically I feel that fostering was seen as a role for women, but in 2016 the role feels very different. We are very well trained in all aspects of caring for children and young people, we regularly attend meetings with fellow professionals; we are definitely treated as professionals working for Walsall fostering.

This year we were asked to take young siblings who had suffered a family bereavement. We then had to liaise with child bereavement counsellors and be party to some very difficult conversations. The children’s care plan changed and we were involved in moving them to live with extended family members who could care for them. After an intense transition period all ended brilliantly and the children are doing really well.

A lot of foster carers opt to care for younger children but we are approved for children aged 0-18. We have a teenager who has been with us for over a year after coming to us for two week’s respite. On paper, there were a lot of issues to consider; including being missing from care and involvement with the police. We decided to give the young person a go and are so glad that we did. A year on, they have worked very hard to get qualifications from college and they are just about to start an apprenticeship with the health service. Foster carers can really make a difference, not only with young children, but teenagers too, they just need to be given a chance. One of the best things we hear is when they call our house HOME!!

I have learned a lot and developed a whole range of new skills as a male foster carer working with Walsall Council’s fostering service. I also feel that there has been a really positive impact on the family as a whole; our own children now have a very different perspective on life as they have witnessed the challenges that other children and their families have to live through.

Mike and Sally's Story