Elaine – TACT Foster Carer since 2011
I always knew that one day I would be a foster carer, and finally in 2012, after working in a wide variety of roles including veterinary nurse and shop manager, I fulfilled my destiny and became a foster carer with fostering charity TACT Scotland.
It was only a couple of months after I was approved to foster that my first foster child – M, a 10 year old girl, arrived to live with me. Fortunately, as first placements go, it was absolutely fine. I used my experience as a mum – my daughter was a young adult by then, and applied all the training that TACT had given me to get me through. Plus my TACT social worker was always on hand if I needed support or advice.
M was with me for about 18 months and I am pleased to say that like all my former foster children, I am still in contact with her. She is now 21 years old and happily living independently.
In 2014 my first pair of siblings came to live with me – A and C, two little girls under the age of 12. The older girl is now almost 18 and will remain with me under the Continuing Care scheme which enables young people to remain with their foster carers until they are 21.
Fostering the sisters made me realise how important it is to keep siblings together when they go into care. I cannot imagine what it must be like having to leave your family as a child. So it would be great to have your siblings with you to keep those family ties and enabling you to remember and talk about your birth family with someone who is having the same experience. I saw how much the sisters needed each other and how they took it in turn to be strong for each other.
Knowing that I was making it possible for the siblings to remain together gave me a great sense of achievement and it was so rewarding watching them thrive together while in my care. One of my most treasured memories happened when C told me that she had woken up one day and forgotten that she was in care. It is the little things like that which are so gratifying as a foster carer.
Today I am a foster mum to not only C but also another pair of sisters – H and P, both of which are under the age of 10. They arrived just after the first lock down last year and I had just 30 minute’s notice prior to their arrival. Fortunately, my older foster daughter was a great help with settling the sisters in and she has really enjoyed having the girls with us. The bond between the sisters is great, and they are totally inseparable, so it makes me so glad I was able to foster them together.
The girls are actually part of a bigger sibling group, and fortunately the rest of the siblings are fostered by another TACT foster family that live close to me. Between us we have worked well to make sure that the children get as much contact with each other as possible.
Some people are surprised that I am a single foster carer. Marital status is not a deciding factor in terms of suitability to foster, as far as TACT is concerned. And my TACT social worker is always available to support me, so I never feel alone. I am also fortunate that my ex-husband is my best friend, and he has provided a male role model for my foster children.
In addition to fostering, my other passion is animals. I have 20 miniature ponies and as many Swiss guinea pigs, plus frogs, cats and dogs. The children love helping me care for the animals. And my greatest source of escape and relaxation is spending time with the ponies.
So with three foster children and numerous animals, I am pretty busy. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I call it well managed madness. Being a foster carer is a 24/7 role, and can certainly be challenging at times, but it has enriched my life in a way no other occupation could.