Mark and Fiona – TACT Foster Carers Since 2001
My wife, Fiona, and I had two teenage children of our own and I felt we had something to offer from our parenting experience. I worked in finance and due to the nature of my job, I met many foster carers at forums and meetings. After hearing many of the stories from the carers and discussions with Fiona, who worked part time in the local school, we decided to explore the possibility of becoming carers ourselves.
When I think of Father’s Day and the paternal bonds in my own life, I have to say both my parents have been wonderful all through my life, very supportive and always available. My father is 90 years of age and a legend in the family. He could turn his hand to anything, has been a wonderful role model to my brothers and I, our children and grandchildren, and is much respected by all those who know him. My mother has always been a great support to dad, particularly now in his later years, and always looks out for her boys.
We were very excited when we heard about our first foster children. It was 2001; I remember the day very well. We met the boys twice with their carers first and when the day came, we were all in the car talking about what to expect.
The first few weeks were very good, everyone starting to find their feet with all the changes taking place. My children adapted very well to the foster children. While both my children are now fully grown, they were very positive about fostering, have always supported us and still call our foster boys’ brothers to this day.
One of the boys has learning disabilities and we fostered him through to independence over 20 years. He continues to be involved in the football team I coach, and having gained the skills whilst in our care, now teaches lifesaving in my lifesaving club. He still supports Swansea City Football club with me for home and away games. We are very close and he rings me regularly, now he lives in supported accommodation.
We still support him as well as his brother who resides close to their mother. We had many visits to see their mother and brother and even took them to Euro Disney on holiday on two occasions.
We have provided respite care to many children over 20 years in support of other TACT Carers. All in all, we have cared for sixty-three young people in twenty-two years.
There are many things to enjoy about fostering. The sense of achievement when a child excels in school, in sport, in music, anything. The sense of pride when someone tells you what they have done. The immense satisfaction of doing something to improve a life.
There are also challenges to fostering, many of which relate to your own personality and abilities. Every foster child is an individual and different, and you have to adapt to their constantly changing needs and requirements. You must show patience and understanding, empathy and control, but at the same time be firm and fair.
The support we receive from TACT is excellent, and always available. Our TACT social worker has been with us for many years and is always supportive. In my dealings with management, I have always been treated with respect and felt listened too.
To anyone considering becoming a Foster dad, if you really feel you have something to give to a child, any child, whatever their situation, and feel you have the time and patience to make a real difference, then I would encourage you to go for it. Happy Father’s Day!