Michelle and her husband Stephen, along with their two children who are 17 and 12 and their two dogs Bonnie and Bella have been a foster family for 5 years. They currently cater for emergency, respite and short term placements.
How has fostering changed your life?
Fostering has changed our lives in many ways, all the children who have stayed with us have made a big impact on our lives and have been made to feel part of our family from day one. Some children who have left us still keep in contact with us today and we have even been made to feel like part of their new forever families too.
What do you enjoy most about fostering?
The thing we enjoy the most about fostering is watching a child grow with confidence, watching them learning new things and simply seeing joy on their faces. There is nothing more special than giving a child the stability and security they may have never experienced before. Getting those great big hugs and little thank yous make the hard work worthwhile.
Have you got any lockdown tips?
Lockdown has been quite strange, however I think we’ve focused on the positives and used our time together to make lots of memories. We’ve been learning new hobbies and skills and we’ve enjoyed spending quality time together.
My top tips for lockdown would be, keep busy, plan out the day ahead so everyone knows what is happening. Most importantly enjoy the moment and appreciate we’re not rushing around for now.
What would you tell adults who were thinking of becoming a foster carer?
If I had to tell an adult one thing about fostering, it would simply be “fostering is one of the biggest and most rewarding jobs you will ever do in your life”.
I’d tell someone thinking of fostering just do it, you can make a huge difference to a child’s life. I’ve given the telephone number to a few friends to make enquiries about fostering and I’m happy to say out of those phone calls there’s been a few new carers approved. I would also say, I don’t know of anyone who has started the process of fostering and stopped after having one child, actually all the foster carers I’d be friends with have fostered for many years.
The challenges with fostering change from placement to placement, for example a baby will wake you in the middle of the night, but you’ll get those huge smiles in return. A teenager might give a few headaches but sure that’s totally normal with any teenager. We have always been fully supported with all our placements. Your supporting social worker is always on hand to give you guidance and support. The trust always has courses available to foster carers which will match the type of placement you have.