“Both our children see him as their big brother”

Author: TACT Communications

Tags: Autism, Fostering with birth children

Hannah – TACT foster carer since 2017
South Coast

Fostering is something that my husband and I have always wanted to do. We planned to have our own children first and then foster while they were still young. However, one thing we hadn’t planned on was having a child with additional needs. It started to become clear that our son was different when he still wasn’t speaking at all by age two, and just before he turned three he was diagnosed with autism. We still wanted to foster and hoped that this wouldn’t prevent us.

We spoke with TACT, who we found to be very open minded about who can foster, and they explained that it would be a case of carefully matching a child with our household who would thrive alongside our own children. So we began fostering when our son was three and our daughter was two.

Our first long-term placement was a 12-year-old boy. There were some concerns about how our son would react to having someone else move in, as well as how our new foster son would manage alongside a sibling with additional needs. However, we need not have worried as they very quickly formed a very special bond.

I still remember the huge smile on my son’s face when our foster son came home from school on his first day back after the holidays. Playing with our son also seemed therapeutic for our foster son. Our son didn’t ask anything of him, and he could be totally himself around him with no judgement at all. Our foster son even chose to write about autism in a writing competition he entered, and his words were very moving.

Both our children now view him as their big brother, and fostering has only been a positive thing for them. They love having another sibling around who they can play and spend time with. I think it has also opened my daughter’s eyes to the fact that not all children are lucky enough to have grown up in a happy and loving family and helped her to be more understanding of other children and their situations.

Our foster son has made huge progress since arriving. He has really settled and calmed down. He used to be quite argumentative but has learnt that that is not the right way to deal with things. He has also learnt lots of skills that will help him become independent, such as organising himself in the mornings for school and using his calendar.

At first, his behaviours could be quite challenging but now we have no problems at all, he has matured so much. I think having two younger siblings has played a big part in this. It allowed him to play with them as a young child, but also to step up and sometimes take responsibility as the older brother.

Having children of your own shouldn’t prevent you from fostering. As long as you are matched carefully with a child, they will fit in well with your family. It can really benefit both your own children and the children you foster to have other children around. If you have the desire and the passion to foster, then factors that might be perceived as a barrier can actually produce a positive effect.