Karen – TACT Foster carer since 2018
My husband and I started fostering for TACT in 2018 after having successfully raised three boys ourselves. My mum and auntie had fostered children after their own had grown up, so we could see the benefits of what a lovely stable home could give to children with a less fortunate start in life. I knew it was something we would be good at, helping others is what we both enjoy doing and we have a very supportive network of family and friends around us to help.
I remember the arrival of my first foster child very well. I was informed at 1pm that she was coming to stay, and she arrived at 5.30pm the same day! I was excited and nervous. We took her to the supermarket and bought pyjamas and let her pick tea for that night. She was only 10 and feeling rather bewildered, but she settled well into our family and stayed with us for nearly 18 months. She is a teenager now, and we still keep in touch.
Three years ago, our lives changed permanently with the arrival of three siblings under the age of 11. We had not originally set out to foster siblings, but we happened to have enough room to sleep three children and they needed a foster family. We knew it would be good for the children to stay together so we went for it. Our relationship with all three of them has developed fantastically well, so much so that they are going to live with us permanently until they reach adulthood and move on to independent living.
Being a foster mum to three siblings is very rewarding but can also be full on, as they all try and get my attention when they are together. When they first arrived, they acted as one unit, having previously been treated only as a group all the time. Over time I have encouraged them to develop their own personalities and have separate interests. I have helped them to build on their own individual strengths, so they don’t feel like they have to rely too much on each other and are able to function well as individuals. They currently go to separate schools, making it easier for them to create their own friendship groups.
My proudest moments as a foster mum are when I encourage the children to try new things that they find out they are good at. It really builds up their confidence and self-pride and encourages them to just go and try other things themselves. One of my children could play chess but hadn’t been encouraged to go to play in the past, so we started taking her to chess clubs and she got better and better at it, to the point where she was winning tournaments. That was so satisfying to see. Another one of the children would sit and cry and hide when his class was taking part in assembly, now he stands at the front smiling and singing the loudest he can.
I enjoy everything about fostering. There are lots of ups and downs, but without that you can’t see a child grow and learn about life and become the best they can be. All children in the care system deserve to have a supportive adult behind them to give them that encouragement and love. I have learned from fostering children to never presume anything, be prepared for anything to happen and try to deal with it the best you can and if you need help and support ask for it. I feel very lucky as my TACT social worker is always on hand and I have a wonderful support network made up of my family and friends who live locally, and I know I can talk to them about anything in confidence no matter how big or small.
Read more about fostering sibling groups.