Sarah-Leigh and Amy – TACT foster carers since 2020
Both of us came from large families which included foster carers, so we both grew up welcoming new children into our family and playing with different foster children. The love and joy we experienced in this kind of environment encouraged us to take up fostering ourselves, so that children and young people who may not have had the best start in life or got to experience a proper childhood could have a fun, stable and loving home. We both felt that we were in a good place to offer all of that to somebody that needed it, so we decided to go for it.
We were both very nervous, but also excited, to begin our fostering journey. Last year we welcomed our first child, a young girl, into our home, who is still with us today. We prepared the bedroom a few nights before making sure everything was in place and that there were plenty of toys and snacks in to help her feel a little more comfortable and at ease. When she arrived, we helped her get all of her things into her new room and made pizzas with her for tea then let her do her own thing to help her feel more at home. And of course, being a kid, hooked her tablet up to the internet!
It has been a rollercoaster of emotions, but we have loved every minute, even during the hard times. Every day is different and every day is a learning curve. Our relationship has developed amazingly well. For any young person, new relationships can be quite difficult at the start. But with hard work, patience and determination we have managed to create a fantastic, loving and respectful relationship with our young person. At the start, she was very reserved and shy and not able to maintain a friendship with more than one person at a time. We have seen a massive change since she has been with us, she now has a big group of friends and has really opened up as a person.
We are both outdoorsy people who love to go out and do different activities, and we have had the absolute privilege of sharing this with our young person. We go out with the dogs, go to the beach, go camping, go to play areas, swimming pools, parks, and family events. We also try to make sure special occasions like Christmas are as memorable as possible with big parties.
We have learnt so much since becoming foster carers. Being support workers we went into fostering thinking we knew it all, but this experience has been a big eye-opener. We have learnt that not every child is the same and the way you approach certain things is different for each child. We have also learnt a lot about ourselves. We’ve learned that we are a lot stronger together and how amazing we are as a team to not just support each other, but the young people that also come to stay with us.
For us, fostering has been one of the best decisions we have ever made. Being in a gay married relationship did put a lot of “ifs, buts and maybes” through our heads, which will probably be the case for others in a similar situation. But once you put all of this aside and just go for it, you will see that there is more to life than the doubts. From our experience, it doesn’t matter what your religion, sexual orientation or ethnic background is, the foster care system welcomes and supports every individual and embraces their differences.
If you are thinking of fostering but have all of these doubts, definitely look into it and call your local fostering agency to get more information. Of course it isn’t all plain sailing, but the challenges throughout your experience as a foster carer only helps and educates you for the future. Fostering isn’t for everybody but, if you know you have a lot of love, patience, compassion and a stable home to offer a child, and if you can help them feel safe and can guide them through the tough times to grow as a person, then don’t hesitate.