“Fostering keeps you young and fit”

Author: TACT Fostering

Tags: Children with additional needs, Fostering siblings, Fostering Teenagers, Fostering with birth children

Joyce and John – TACT Foster Carer Since 2010

It was exciting being one of the first foster carers to start with TACT Scotland. There were a couple of high-profile cases of child neglect in the news in Scotland at the time, which ultimately prompted us to find out more about fostering, something we had talked about for a few years.

John worked in print production, and I worked in banking. We approached our local authority first. After the initial visit, they didn’t get in touch with us again for a few months and by then we were on our journey with TACT. I liked the fact that TACT was a charity, and all surplus goes back into the services for carers and young people.

The application process was friendly and supportive, at the same time it made us reflect on our childhood, life events and how we handled situations. Right after panel, we had two cases put to us. Finding no pressure to accept, we soon heard about a boy of 10, whom we felt a good match for and he became our first foster child.

We felt a mixture of emotions; terrified (could we do it?), excited and impatient to meet our young man.

We quickly decorated his bedroom and, in preparation, spoke to family members and friends. It was a spare room and needed some personalisation to suit his age and gender. We had about 4 weeks of meeting our boy for lunches, play dates and sleep overs prior to him moving in. We showed him family photos, explaining the family relationships and dynamics. Those first few weeks were exciting, we enjoyed the wonder of his reactions to situations and foods that he hadn’t had before. We bonded, loved and accepted him into our family very quickly.

Before he joined us, he had taken on the role of caregiver to his younger brother and sister, so had a time of it. He stayed with us for four and a half years and is now coming up to 24 years old. We see him regularly and still carry the love for him.

His younger brother came to stay with us one year later and is still with us 12 years on.  He is almost 20 years old. Whilst they have a bigger age gap than our youngest boys, they love each other, and have that brotherly bond. Our second boy has ADHD and has trouble coping at times, but he is doing really well and we love him.

Keeping sibling groups together seemed the right thing to do. If the children will benefit from being together and the carers receive the support they need, I think it is a positive step to take. We have not fostered a lot of children; once they stay with us, we stick by them and are lucky to have permanence for our three children. Our two youngest boys are also birth brothers. They came to us at an early age and relied on each other. Being so close in age they play well together, which was extremely helpful during lockdown, and share history and life stories.

Siblings can support and comfort each other when recounting the past, good or bad, and continue to be part of each other’s lives as they grow older and have families of their own. Having good relationships with each child, whatever challenges, whether it is them vying for attention or us organising our time around their individual interests, for example, is rewarding. Fostering keeps you young and fit!

We have a zest for life and the outdoors, our habits and hobbies have rubbed off on the boys and they all follow in our footsteps. Our two younger boys are learning the bagpipes and drums and were involved in a mass pipe band gathering at Edinburgh Castle. My husband and I, instead of going away for weekends in the countryside alone, enjoy a house filled with laughter and fun. This is our family. We include them in all family gatherings and have always had the boys stay with us rather than use respite care. Our birth children are older and have embraced our boys.

TACT’s training and SSW helps so much, especially when we were less experienced. The support and training is very good and helped us through some of the tougher challenges.  I do believe we are part of a big TACT family.

Read more about fostering siblings.