Joan – TACT Foster Carer since 2012
London and the South East
At 74 years of age I am proud to say that I am a foster carer and I love it.
I started fostering in my 40’s with my then local authority before moving on to TACT. A good friend of mine who was a foster carer at the time became ill, and wasn’t able to take care of her two foster daughters for a while, so I left my home and moved into the friend’s house to help look after these children. The girls and I got along really well and to this day we keep in touch. This experience inspired me to consider fostering myself. I pitched the idea to my then partner who agreed and it started from there.
Even now that I am in my 70’s, I would still recommend fostering to anyone with good health and energy.
My first placement was a brother and sister who came into care due to their mother’s health issues. What started as a short-term placement lasted almost a year. I treasure many lovely memories from that time, like going sightseeing and playing cricket on weekends. Even though my birth son was already grown up and living independently, he was always there for the children and enjoyed taking them out. The children left to live with their mother, but to this day we are in touch, especially with the girl, who visits my house regularly together with her two sons.
Many things have happened over the years since then. I became a single foster carer and I started fostering with TACT, a fostering and adoption charity. Being a charity means they don’t profit from the care of children, so all income helps not only children but foster carers as well. TACT social workers are always there to help. Of course, they have a professional role to play, but they are also caring and understanding at all times.
I have cared for over 18 children and ended up adopting three of them in one go – two siblings and a little boy. My adopted children are now adults living their happy lives. One of them is currently travelling around Asia, another one became a mortgage adviser after graduating from Wales University and the girl is a mum of two boys. My adoptive son also has a baby girl and recently said to me: “Mum, I am going to install all the things that you have taught me into my child because she is the most precious thing to me.”
In addition, I have had several short-term and long-term placements. The first thing I do when children come to live with me is make them a home cooked meal, which always helps them to settle in quickly. My last placement was a young lady who is starting her first year at Canterbury University this September. She was with me for almost six years and even though she is officially no longer in my care, my house will always be a home to her. She will come home during her breaks and in the meantime, we video chat regularly. I am currently open to a short-term placement. However, this has proven to be tricky as my short-term placements usually end up to be long-term.
Fostering requires a lot of patience. Children come from various backgrounds with different experiences which are not always positive and can sometimes cause difficulties. I try to help them understand that a bad start in life doesn’t mean they can’t have a bright future. I tell them that life isn’t given to us on a plate and that we have to work towards our achievements. Some people, including my birth son say I have a soft heart, but I believe in giving people chances. The best thing you can do for anyone is to show them that you care and you value them as a person. You can’t go too far wrong from there.