Damien and myself, Mark, are a gay couple who have been together 16 years. Our primary reason for wanting to become foster carers was to change a child’s life, providing a loving and nurturing environment to allow the children we would care for to succeed, not necessarily in an academic way but in a way that can allow that child to thrive mentally and emotionally as well. Success isn’t always about things, but about the levels of happiness you can experience and feel in your life.
We’ve been foster carers for over four years, previously with another local authority, and in the last twelve months we have transferred to Walsall Council. The transition was quick and easy, and we’ve had no regrets. It was obvious as soon as we started that Walsall Fostering was different, ensuring both carers and children are adequately supported, providing help wherever they can.
When we first became foster carers a little boy was placed with us. He could not be placed with family and we were asked if we would permanently foster him, we said yes. Since being with us he has made incredible progress. After being four years behind in school he’s now caught up and is in the top 10% of pupils in the school that has an incredibly high sense of emotional well being and happiness. Nothing compares to the feelings he evoked within us when he first said he loved us. Because of this, and also the boys wishes and feelings, we decided to apply for a Special Guardianship Order; a court order taking him out of the care system, giving us parental responsibility. Being able to change this one boy’s life is incredible. We have seen this time and time again when we have moved children on to family members or reunified them with parents. Seeing children evolve from having no confidence and self-esteem to being able to advocate for themselves because they believe they can is incredible. It makes it all worthwhile.
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 specific skillset, just the ability to have patience, love and understanding. Become a foster carer, you can do it too.