“I’ve seen so many examples of how the fostering system can improve children’s lives.”

Author: TACT

Tags: Fostering siblings, Transferring agency

Emma and Alex – TACT Foster Carers since 2017
West Midlands

My wife Emma and I became foster carers six years ago, at the age of 22 and 23. In addition to having three small children of our own, we currently care for two siblings with fostering and adoption charity TACT.

Not many people would choose to become foster carers at such a young age, but Emma and I have practically grown up around fostering. My parents started fostering when I was five years old and I have seen over 210 children placed with my parents over their 23 years of fostering. Emma was 10-years-old when she and her younger brother were removed from her parents and placed in a foster home where she stayed until meeting me in her late teens.

I wanted to become a foster carer because I had seen so many positive examples of how the fostering system had improved children’s lives. However, Emma had seen other aspects of the fostering system as well. She had gone through the process of losing contact with her birth family and had experienced many different troubles such as bullying in school due to being in care, to self-harm and a suicide attempt. Despite all this, Emma still says she had a positive fostering experience and to this day she has a close relationship with her foster family. Emma wanted to become a foster carer because she wanted to give something back and to make a positive change to someones life.

In 2011, Emma graduated from Staffordshire University and moved in with me in our first home. I was 22 and Emma was 21, the minimum age a person can apply to become a foster carer. We decided to start our journey to become foster carers like we had spoken about many times before. During the application process, we met many other future foster carers and realised we must be one of the youngest foster carers in the country! We were approved a year later and received our first placement shortly after.

Our first placement was a five-year-old girl and it was a pleasure looking after her for nine months. She ended up going on to live with her extended family. This was a sad day for us all due to how well she had fitted into our family, but it was lovely to see her going to a positive home. We have since had some updates from her aunt, including photos of how well she is doing.

Our second placement was two brothers; a 10-month-old and a two-year-old. They were both behind developmentally which is sadly quite common for children in care. Seeing them progress and reach milestones for the first time was so rewarding. After nearly a year, we managed to successfully move them on to a loving adoptive family.

Our current placements are again two brothers, aged four and seven. They have been with us for four years and last year we went to panel requesting to have them on a long-term foster placement. We were successful and the boys loved receiving their letters confirming this. At the start of this placement, we had a few issues with the children’s birth parents as they were in their mid 30’s and we were in our mid 20’s. The parents said on a few occasions we were too young and inexperienced to look after their children. This however soon changed when they saw improvements in their boys as the time went on. It was so nice to hear them say that they wouldn’t want their children looked after by anyone else other than us.

During this placement, we have had three birth children of our own so our big family has now grown to five children. Their ages range from 11 months to 11 years old. It has been nice for our foster children to see our family grow and they have loved being part of it. Our eldest birth child is nearly four and seeing him learning to play board games with our foster children is so nice to see, even if it ends with him getting bored and saying he wins.

I am in the Royal Air Force which has some downfalls such as having periods of time away, but there are also plenty of benefits as the Armed Forces provide great support to families.

In the future Emma and I are both hoping to extend our knowledge, completing various training courses to enable us to help provide training for other foster carers and future carers as we would love to share our knowledge and experiences. The first advice I would give to foster carers is to use their support network. When in doubt, we know TACT are only a phone call away.

To read more foster carer stories, click here.