Jackie – TACT Foster Carer since 2005
My husband and I started fostering 13 years ago. We have always loved children but sadly we never had any of our own. As we have had a lovely relationship, a nice house in Wales and had a lot of love to give, we decided we want to become foster carers. My friend from work was looking at becoming a foster carer so told us about TACT, and we ended up going into fostering at the same time. We are so glad we did so as TACT has always given us the confidence to do what we are doing.
After six months of the application process and a couple of short respite placements, we were expecting our first long term placement. We were both excited and nervous – was the child going to like us? Was she going to feel settled? However, as soon as this little 11-year-old girl arrived in our house, it just felt right.
Our foster daughter was very shy to start with, but she said she liked us immediately as we were friendly and we made her laugh. We believe our three dogs had a role to play as well because as soon as she saw them the first thing that came out of her mouth was “please let me stay here”.
In the early days her shyness meant that she wouldn’t leave my side even when I needed to get out the car to get some petrol. She used to be very upset before going to bed and to help her I used to tell her a story, a story about her, about a little girl with beautiful brown eyes, beautiful brown hair, who was loving and caring and who could do whatever she put her mind to. I wanted her to see she is so much more, not this naughty child who everybody thought she was.
Before coming to us, she had 19 foster placements, all between the ages of 6 to 11. At the beginning of the placement, she would get upset whenever we told her she couldn’t do something. She would start packing her bag and getting ready to leave because that is what would have happened in her previous homes if she misbehaved. Her suitcase was at the top of her unit, always handy. To show her that we were committed to giving her a forever home, we put her suitcase in a loft and explained to her that no one is asking her to go away. We told her – whatever you do, we will talk it through and tomorrow is a new day. Gradually she realised we were not abandoning her and she started to settle in and to build her confidence.
She stayed with us until the age of 19 and now she lives in a house next to ours. She is 24 years old and she has a beautiful 17-month-old baby girl. To see how she blossomed over those years is just lovely, we feel like we did something right. She is and always will be our daughter and her little girl our granddaughter.
Since then, we have cared for several children and young people. We currently have two lovely girls who both plan to stay with us even after they turn 18. One of the girls claims she is not leaving us until she is in her 50’s!
People ask me what do I enjoy about fostering and my answer is everything. Each day is an adventure, you learn something new about the child and they learn something new about you. No one says it is easy, because it’s not, but it is absolutely worth it. Sadly, there are so many children out there who need a bit of nurturing and love. I wish I had a bigger house and five of me so I could help as many children as possible.