Consider Teenagers

Hi, my name is Chrissy,

I have a daughter Elizabeth she is currently 8 years old. We would love to share with you our experiences with fostering teenagers.

I have over the years fostered many teenagers. Five to be exact. No I am not a machine, nor am I oblivious to the challenges everyone faces when parenting/raising or fostering a teenager. My experience have been varied and I would like to share with you the positives to taking on a teenager.

Many shy away from taking a teenager into their home and here are some of the reasons why…

  1. We have all heard the stories from many in the Fostering community that their young person is always missing from placement. They never return or never home on time.
  2. We hear stories about how they address us and their environment.
  3. Using the house like a hotel.

All sound familiar?

Well let me shed some light on the positives. My first teenager was very distant. Had a life of her own before coming into my care. She had her own set of friends. Went to school independently. Was accountable for herself. She followed her own set of rules and made her own boundaries. She did what she wanted and went where she pleased.

After coming into my care and loving in my home. I am sure she was overwhelmed with the rules and safer caring policy. I am sure that this all seemed alien to her. I am sure that all of a sudden she has to follow rules, boundaries and had to make sure she informed me of her whereabouts. Theses things were non negotiable (keeping in with the placement agreement and safer caring policy set out by the agency and Local authority) I am confident that this provoked feelings inside her we could never understand.

Not only did this YP not ask for this situation but now she has to follow rules from a stranger and claims that it’s to keep her safe. Something she has been doing herself for many years.

I first was met with this challenge within the first year of fostering. I can tell you that it isn’t much fun when you have never been faced with a teenager before. But I embraced all that was available to me. Went on as many courses as I could. Gained confidence in my abilities. Then applied this to my young person.

To my amazement and joy, with every day that passed life got easier for myself and my young person. We established a great relationship of mutual respect and trust. We lived separate but joined lives, and in time we became close. She trusted I was there to help guide and care for her. She trusted to come to me. She trusted that even if she made mistakes, we would be able together to resolve them.

We did make positive steps. We worked together in making agreements about home times. We worked together with house chores.

We shared stories together and went for meals. We shared in liked interests and explored new ones together.

I helped her emotional development, through communication and role modelling. Slowly but surely I saw what can only be described as a metamorphosis. It was beautiful to watch her grow and blossom. I saw with my own eyes her mature.

My YP taught me a lot about the here and now.  The world of teenagers. Allowed me access to how they view the world today, and how much it differs from when I was a teenager. She gave me much more than I expected.

I am grateful for that early experience and will hold that close to my heart as I will all my placements.

I guess I wanted to say that there is so much more to teenagers than meets the eye. Don’t see it as a challenge but a chance to grow.

If you’d like to find out more about fostering then get in touch on 0208 347 8741 or download our guide here

Mum: ‘I’m going to be a foster carer!’ Me: ….’What does that mean?’

Fostering doesn’t only change the lives of children in care, it also affects the lives of the foster carers birth children. 

Princess’ mum became a foster carer, this is her story.

When I was 16 I didn’t care about much else but hanging out with my friends and family, listening to music, animals and beating all my guy friends at the latest PlayStation games just to prove that girls can do anything boys can, but better! So it was a big surprise for me when my mother told me that she wanted to be a foster carer. I wasn’t all too sure what that would mean, but I knew my mother was very excited about it as she told me with a big smile on her face. She absolutely adores children and helping others who are in need, so of course it was perfect for her.  But honestly I wasn’t too sure.

Being the youngest out of five I was always used to being the centre of attention and the one everyone spoils, so the idea that someone much smaller than me could be living with us for a while was bizarre to me. I had lots of questions ‘ what will these children be like?’ , ‘What if someone my age comes and we don’t get along?’, ‘Will they stay with us forever?’. My mother told me that it would be a lovely thing to do to help a child who may be in a situation where their childhood wasn’t as great as mine was and she reminded me just how much I loved and enjoyed my niece and nephew. Which was true…apart from the changing of their nappies and having them draw all over my bedroom walls I did love children as much as my mother and my whole family did too. I imagined myself being a big sister to them and teaching them all the things I know like how to balance a spoon on your nose and the importance of taking in part in games but never getting sour grapes if you lose…just get them back next time by being better!

So when the time came and we fostered a brother and sister who were under the age of 5, I was nervous but excited to get to know them. It was such a lovely experience, especially as I had never been a big sister before but now I had to help my mother look after two little ones who looked up to me.

They were funny and had so much personality and I felt myself filling up with so much love for them and just wanting them to have a great time whilst they were with us. When we were eventually told that they were going to be adopted, I was shocked and upset as it meant they would be leaving us soon. I wouldn’t be a big sister anymore. I spoke to my mother about how I was feeling and I’m glad I did as she assured me that it was a good thing and that it was always going to be short term. She also mentioned to me that they would be going to two nice people who have always wanted children and we should be happy about this. I sulked for a while and went to my room blasting out some emotional music and was thinking to myself ‘this isn’t fair!’ But when I met the adoptive parents my feelings changed and I saw that the kids really liked them. They were happy. The parents thanked us for everything we had done with the kids and that my mother was a great foster carer and they had enjoyed this time with her helping them to get to know the children. I beamed at my mother and thought I have never been so proud of her. It was true she was amazing at what she did.

Now over ten years later my mother is still fostering children and me being at home still has made me witness just what it is like to be in family who foster.

My brothers and sisters don’t live at home anymore however they are also fully involved when we foster children or mother and child placements. We are a close knit family so we like getting everyone together including the foster placements (children or mother and child), for picnics in the park, dinners and occasionally a game of bowling which will always begin with my brother thinking he can beat everyone and then soon realising he has the lowest score! Every foster placement we have had enjoyed being involved and treated like they were family, which I think is very important if you want to be a foster carer.

For me now I mostly help my mother with caring for the children we may have whether it be to babysit, to cook dinner  or to help them with homework… but certainly not maths it’s always been my worst subject! So I am quite involved with the everyday care which is not an issue to me as it’s always been a part of my life for a long time now.

Fostering has affected me by making me a better person I think. Not that I wasn’t before, but it’s really made me sensitive to others situations and has made me realise how important it is for everyone to be cared for and to live somewhere where they feel safe. Which I think are little things we tend to take for granted. Just seeing children and young people progressing and making good changes in their lives, smiling more and genuinely being happy makes it all worth it.

This is also in the case of mother and child placements. Seeing mothers figuring out what’s best for their child/children and gaining advice from my mother or myself and putting it into action; then finally getting their children back in their full care. It’s enough to make you happy about what you do and experience just how rewarding fostering is.

We work hard with mothers and at times this can be challenging, as a lot don’t like the idea of someone telling them how to look after their own child. Which I feel is understandable. However being patient with them and reminding yourself just how they must feel living in another’s home and having people involved heavily in their life, helps you to connect with them. Thus they feel they can see you more like a friend who only wants the best for them and especially their child. Which hopefully results in them making better choices and leaving placement with smile on their face as they walk out the door with their child.

Overall I would say fostering is an amazing thing to do. My advice for anyone who wants to foster is to go for it ! If you love children and feel you can bring some sunshine to their life for however long you have them, then do it. Yes it can be hard at times accepting others in your home, or having another child amongst the ones you have already (including emotional teenagers like I was haha) but you will get to see just how wonderful it is to make a great impact on someone’s life.

Haven a Wonderful Time in Hastings

You can keep Malaga, a family summer holiday in the UK still has it’s charms!

This year, me, my husband and our foster child explored the wonders of Combe Haven in Hastings along with many other GLF Carers.

For the purpose of this blog the foster child’s name has been changed.

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Monday 24th July

And we’re off, car loaded up, dog dropped at nanny’s house, were all set for a fabulous 5 days.  This will be our first holiday together in a caravan.  Gary has been joking that he will be staying in a tent following a caravanning experience some years back that has left a not so positive memory in his head.  On route, up to Hasting we stop off to get a bit of shopping.  Lots of holiday snacks, whose counting calories on holiday!!!!!!!!

We arrive at the resort, weather is little bit gloomy but were still excited to get our holiday underway.  I go and check us in, the place is packed with families all excited about their holidays.  After a short drive, we arrive at our caravan, its lovey and spacious.  I see the relief in Gary’s face that were not going to spend 4 nights in a sardine tin.  Well were not but Jack’s room is a little snug.  Doesn’t take him long to fill the spare bed with Pokémon cards.

After unpacking we go for a little walk to look at the facilities.  Jack is very excited to find the amusement area with the 2p machines.  We pop into the indoor activity centre where the kids are trying out the roller skating. Jack is not convinced yet that this is something he wants to try. I’m sure I will convince him eventually.  We decide to have dinner in the caravan, tuna pasta on the menu with garlic bread then it’s off to spend our 2p in the arcade.

Tuesday 25th July

We all slept surprisingly well, bacon butties for breakfast and then off to Battle Abbey to have a look round.  The weather was beautiful so we take the opportunity to have a lovely walk round and took lots of photos with the wooden soldiers that we met as we did the tour.  We each had our own sound recorded tour guide.  Jack was particularly disturbed with the sheep droppings that we encountered during the walk through the battlefield.   You would think he expected them to use a toilet the way he went on about it.

Anyway, after dodging the droppings we made our way out of the Abby and had a walk around the town.

I managed to pick up a bargain Radley bag from the charity shop.  Jack treated himself to some sweets of course.  We head back to the caravan, drop our stuff off and then go for a wonder.  As we were walking out of the arcade we bump into another GLF foster carer and her daughter.  The kids go off to play in the playground whilst we catch up.  A couple of hours fly by and before we know it its 10pm.  We make plans to meet up again the following evening.  1st full day has been lovely topped off with meeting another carer.

Wednesday 26th July 

Must be a comfy bed as we had to wake Jack up.  After breakfast, we head off to meet up with some friends that moved to the area.  Jack has his mountain of Pokémon cards and some colouring to keep him occupied.  We head off to the seaside for lunch.  Unfortunately, the weather is not so good today so we spend a couple of hours catching up over a curry.  Jack is happily chatting with the owner, telling him about his holiday and what he like to do.  He’s points out that the spicy poppadum need to be spicier.  He’s getting braver in his old age.  He’s very impressed with his giant prawns and of course a side order of chips.  After lunch, we head back to the resort, meet in the football court to play for a few hours.   I have also convinced his to have a go at the roller skating.  He dons his heavy skates and heads out on the floor.  Well I have never laughed so much in ages.  How he didn’t rip his trousers with the amount of splits he did I will never no.  A few bruises later and we head back to the caravan for dinner.  After dinner, we meet up with a couple of carers whilst the kids go off and play in the arcade.  They are really enjoying winning all the little toys from the machine.  Looks like he will have quite a collection by the end of the week.

Thursday 27th July

Today we have arranged to meet up with Jacks’s sister in Dymchurch.  They don’t get to see each other as often since she moved.  We meet at an arcade which they of course loved.  They spent an hour together whilst we caught up with her Carer.  On our way back we make a stop at the Ashford outlet………shopping.  Jack’s eyes light up at the sight of the Nike shop.  I of course am the bargain hunter and managed to find him an impressive pair of trainers.  He bought a hat as well.  All he needs now is the Nike socks and he will be fully kitted out as he got the tracksuit for his birthday.  On the trainers go as soon as we leave the shop.  Once back at the resort Jack is off out again to meet up with the other carer’s daughter.  We all meet up in the entertainment area where they have python on stage for the kids to hold.  Yikes you won’t get me doing that.  Soon we realise that it’s just the adults who are having to endure the terrible music as all the kids have gone off to play.  We make a move to the quieter bar area.  We must be getting old.  Not down with the cool kids anymore.  As the night draws to an end the kids go off to trade in all the tickets that they have won from the machines.  It’s a little sad as we have had such an amazing time.  Seeing our kids make new friends, and new memories is always a privilege.

Irene, Gary & Jack

A moment in time

What does a moment in time mean to most of us? It may mean a person’s whole life time or it may mean precisely what you see in a photograph. The picture looks like a mother and son enjoying a day out at the seaside.  In fact what you see is a foster mother and her foster son doing exactly that.  For my lad every day is a moment in time, every day is not knowing if this will be his forever family, every day is deciding who he can trust to keep him safe.

This is the journey that my husband and I started with him nearly 3 yrs ago.  When someone says to us ‘I admire you for doing what you’re doing, they are damaged children, I don’t know if I could do it’. I have to remind them that it was an adult that damaged these children and it is adults that need to help them heal.  We don’t need admiration, all we want is for the children who come into our lives to have the same opportunities as everyone else.

We decided to foster about 5 years ago, we started our journey with an interview in our home. Then we attended a skills to foster course and over those three days we got a better insight into the life of foster carers and the children that come into the care system.  Once we decided that this was what we wanted we went through a 6 month assessment with our assessor and sat in front of a panel of about 15 people awaiting our fate.  I have to say I burst into tears when they said yes, the build-up of emotions was overwhelming.

Our lad was our 2nd placement, he was with us for 2 weeks respite but sadly was not able to return to his previous carer.  After 8 weeks with us the council wanted to move him, he was distraught as he had attached to us and us to him.  In the end with the help of an advocate the council gave in and let him stay.

So almost 3 years on we are a family.  Every day has it challenges but we work together to make sure that he feels safe and secure and that every moment in time counts.

I am happy to talk to anyone who is thinking about becoming a foster carer.  It really is a life changing experience.

Irene is a foster carer with GLF.

To find out how you can start your journey download our guide

Fostering and the Christian Faith

Fostering and the Christian faith seem to have many close parallels and flow one from the other.

You don’t necessarily need to have a strong faith in order to feel compassion for a fellow human being and especially a vulnerable child. There can an innate desire to help where possible, and to share some of the home comforts we take for granted.

Of course taking strangers into your home is not a trivial thing, and it will impact upon all the current household. There needs to be agreement from everyone that the fostered child will be welcomed and integrated into the family and any house rules.

Certain core Christian values seem to support fostering. Everyone’s right to privacy and security needs to be recognised. People need their own space wherever possible, and rules such as always knocking on doors before entering should be adhered to.

We have found eating our main meal seated together as a family a great integrator, and a way to discuss any household issues. Other activities together, such as a simple game of cards further the bonding process, and allow expression whilst having fun.

The opportunity to attend church on a Sunday of course is always there, but never forced upon the child. Should they practice any other faith, then naturally this is to be respected and supported in a practical sense as needs be.

Fostered children are often coming from chaotic backgrounds, so it will be a culture shock to enter a calm, disciplined Christian household. Patience is needed to manage this transition, and allow the child time to adjust and find trust in this new environment.

We have found routine a wonderful settler where the child knows what to expect and the standards that are expected in return. Bed times are regulated to ensure sufficient rest for school the next day, and any tablets or phones are switched off some time before bed to aid good quality sleep.

We stress the importance of not lying as a fundamental value, and always feeling able to express an opinion or voice any concern.

It is always a useful exercise to allow the child to draw up their own house rules and these can then be amalgamated with any existing rules to provide a clear pathway forwards. Children are encouraged to help around the house, assisting in everyday chores such as washing up or cleaning. This teaches useful life skills as well as a sense of responsibility in contributing towards the house running.

Being a Christian means helping others to be the very best they can be, after providing the safe haven they needed. A child’s interests should be encouraged, and progress praised in any new developing skills.

Living in a foster home promotes respect for others. We can all learn from each other, and in time grow as a family unit. It’s not always an easy process, particularly when the child is first placed in a foster home. Sometimes the placement will break down, and it will be in the best interests of everyone that another home is found. The carers need to be flexible to this, yet steadfast in their willingness to help, and provide security.

We are all God’s children. He loves us all and will provide for us all in time as we place our trust in him. Fostering is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate that whilst living a Christian life.

Richard is a foster carer with Greater London Fostering.

Call 0208 347 8741 or email  [email protected] if you’ d like to find out more. We welcome people from any religious or non-religious background.

Fostering – What’s Stopping You?

The decision to become a foster carer isn’t an easy one to make. Fostering will have an impact on not only the child in care, but your life and your family’s life too. There’s a lot to think about so it’s natural to have concerns. Every day I talk to people who are interested in fostering and there seems to be a certain level of reluctance to ask certain questions. Maybe they think it’s cheeky to ask about money? Maybe they don’t want to appear like they couldn’t manage if they were to foster.

How will your family feel about sharing their home with someone they don’t know? How will you fit in the endless meetings, contact and school-run alongside your own career? What if the child you foster doesn’t like you? There is a lot to think about. So let’s talk about what’s stopping you from fostering…

Money, money, money  

Feel like money could be a problem? Nobody fosters for the money, but the extra income you get a carer certainly helps. Part of the decision to foster should be to consider how it will affect the level of income you’ll be receiving. It might be the case that you decide to reduce your contract, to work part time. Foster carers should be financially stable without the fostering allowance. That’s why many of our carers continue to work part time or full time.

Think you can’t foster because you work? Ultimately, we ask that our carers are financially stable without the fostering allowance they receive. A lot of our foster carers continue to work, either full time or part time. It’s just important that you have a support network of family and friends who can help you.

Help (I need somebody)

Feel like you won’t be able to manage on your own? The short answer is we don’t expect you to! When you become a foster carer, you will be assigned a social worker, who will support you throughout your fostering experience. GLF also runs regular support groups and training courses.

You might be worrying about whether you meet our requirements. When it comes to the things that are a definite ‘no, you can’t foster’, there aren’t as many as you might think.

Whats love got to do with it?

Think you can’t foster because you’re not in a relationship? You don’t have to be in a couple to foster. You can be married, in a long term relationship or single. Families come in all shapes and sizes, so you won’t be judged for the size of yours.

Think you can’t foster because you’re gay? It doesn’t matter if you are gay, lesbian, trans-gender or heterosexual. We live in a diverse culture and we want this to be reflected in our fostering community. Your sexuality really doesn’t matter to us. What’s important is the experience and support you can bring to your role as a foster carer.

Think you can’t foster because you’re too old or too young? You can become a foster carer if you are over 21 years old and there is no upper age limit. As long as you are fit and able enough to look after children, then you can foster.

There are thousands of children needing foster families. These children come from all sorts of backgrounds, cultures, religions. We need foster carers to reflect this diversity. So, regardless of your age, ethnicity, employment or relationship status and as long as you have a spare room and the time, the reality is you could probably foster.

If you are thinking about it then get in touch, ask a question, start the journey. We’re ready and waiting for your questions!

Louise is a recruitment officer at Greater London Fostering.

Daily recordings, a must!

I think I was definitely luckier than most when I entered the world of fostering!

I have mentioned before in previous blogs that my parents were foster carers for many years, and only retired recently after having fostered for over 27 years!  Through my life as a ‘foster sister’ I gained a wealth of experience which made the transition of becoming a foster carer so much easier!

Becoming a real life foster carer was still a daunting place though, I can tell you!  I often think perhaps the only part that wasn’t daunting was the children themselves!

One of MANY things I really felt nervous about was the daily logs.  I had come from a world where mostly the only writing I did was my daily facebook status or writing out whatsapp messages such as ‘hey how r u? ‘  or ‘u gonna be out this wkend?’  Not so helpful when you have to write out daily logs ummm (as the name suggests) EVERY day!!!

Not only was I worried about how to write but also WHAT TO SAY?   Surely people i.e your supervisor or your child’s social worker don’t want to know what the children ate for breakfast, said to you about the bloody Tellytubbies,  or even that they fell out their new posh glam buggy because you actually put the wheels on back to front!

Well actually YES they might!

Here we have one of my early daily logs…

Thursday

B is up as usual before I awake and wakes me up with  calling and singing.  B has a bath and breakfast. We go for a walk in the park with the dogs. We go for a picnic in the park and B has a fantastic time running around with the big children and eating the picnic.  Several times tries to take things from other children, a toy, a scooter, a lollipop and gets very angry when is asked to to give it back.  B enjoys being with Tanya the most who is 5 and follows Tanya everywhere, even when its time for Tanya to go home she tries to go with her. After the picnic, we go home and a new buggy has arrived.   I build the buggy and we go to the park in it! B is very excited about it.  20 mins into the walk I park it next to a flower bed and walk 5 steps to the bin and as I walk back the whole buggy topples over with B in it and falls into the flower bed.  B screams and cries and several people come to help.  B is ok and not seriously hurt but we are both upset. When Scott comes home later he finds I have screwed the wheels on back to front and corrects it and he thinks this is why it toppled.  B goes to sleep within seconds tonight I think due to the busy day she has had!

Seriously!!!  Only I could screw a wheel on back to front!!  How is that even possible it’s a wheel for god’s sake!

Joking aside sometimes it can be easy to forget that our daily logs have huge importance in our role as foster carers.  One very important role of daily logs can be helping to document things like accidents!  In my log above, I explain everything about the buggy accident which can if needed be used word for word to explain to any concerned parents or social workers as to why this child may have been hurt!

There are so many important reasons for our daily logs!  Another one which I was unfortunate enough to have first hand experience of, is many of our foster children are the subject of ongoing court cases!  Our daily logs can provide a really huge insight into these children’s lives!  The reality is that people who HAVE never, and ARE never, likely to meet your foster children, (such as court judges or panels) are often given the task of making life changing decisions about their futures!

For me as a foster carer that horrible moment of realisation dawned on me soon after the arrival of two children who had been severely neglected by their parents! Within a month they were placed up for adoption!  However, little was I prepared to find out that actually the plans were for the children to be separated and to go to two different adoptive families!

Court cases were being prepared and the children’s social workers matter of factly informed us that the children should be adopted separately for their own good!

Aged just 4 and 5, how was it even possible for someone to come to this decision?  Let alone in such a short space of time?

I felt so angry that this was even happening to these innocent little ones and that in this modern day it was possible to split two, ending one that way and the other a different way!

” The reality hit me that this fight was ours and that actually my daily logs were now valuable ammunition!”

Tuesday

….they must stay together.  Sometimes if Ryan goes shy in front of new people he will whisper what he wants to say to Rose and Rose will say it out loud for him!    Also vice versa if Rose is troubled and withdrawn about something as she sometimes gets after School, Ryan will answer questions for her!  For example, if I ask Rose “are you hurt”?  Or “Rose has someone pushed you?’  Ryan will also ask her these questions and will even answer for her when she is silent by saying things like ‘I didn’t see anyone push her Amee’ or ‘I think she has a tummy ache Amee.’   They really are so sweet to each other and just love playing together constantly! Rose has changed so much in such a short space of time and she now is very caring to Ryan without the domineering almost menacing way that she used to be towards him saying things like ‘your’re for it now’ or ‘look what you done now’.

He loves to be encouraged by Rose and dotes on her.

Sunday weekly summary

She has changed so much but maybe she feels more settled now.  Her true personality shines through and actually Rose is a very funny, quite cheeky girl with a huge sense of humour.  This week I have really noticed that Rose has changed towards Ryan and is now very supportive and encouraging to him.  She is always saying ‘oh well done Ryan’  ‘oh you are good’.   Or when he runs she shouts ‘Don’t stop Ryan keep going’ which is quite funny to hear because she has copied that from me. Rose now also reassures Ryan if he has an accident!  For example, if he spills something once she would have said ‘you’re for it now’or something quite mean but now she will say to him ‘Ryan just tell Amee and Amee will mop it up don’t worry Ryan don’t worry’.  Another example is when he is eating a sandwich she will say ‘Ryan don’t forget if you want another one just let Amee know’ and she repeats it several times to him in a caring fashion!

 It wasn’t just me that felt the full impact of such horrible news. The School that the children attended were very distressed to hear the news that the plan was to separate the children!

Tuesday

Parents evening:  When we got to Rose’s teacher’s table the lady broke down crying it was awful, poor woman!  She apologised for crying and I comforted her and she said Rose had a special place in her heart!   Then she said that Rose is SO well behaved and SO caring.   She also said Rose had no recognition of numbers which is true as she seems unable to write them. When I’ve done homework with Rose she needs me to write the number down and then she copies it. We then went around Rose’s classroom and spoke with her other teacher Mr W.

Rose enjoyed showing me and her brother her books and then told me off for touching a wall display as she said Mrs. V said nobody is allowed to touch the wall displays!

And so just like that you can find yourself thrown into a world of uncertainty and fighting to protect children you have known only a short time yet have already grown to love!   Innocent children who trust you and look to you for comfort and care.  Children who think you have their back no matter what! How can you not do everything in your power to help them?  All of a sudden words especially the written ones of daily logs become a very powerful thing.

We fought long and hard for these 2 children! The social workers refused to believe that they should stay together!  Together with their school and their court guardian and the support of our GLF supervisor we managed to get the judge to see the truth that these two little ones belonged together.  The judge was given my daily logs to read before making a decision! One day another judge may be given yours!

Sadly, for many foster children they are not so lucky and day in day out children in the care system are separated from their siblings!

Don’t be afraid to disagree, don’t be afraid to write it down and don’t be afraid to fight as hard as you can.  You may be all they have!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Men Who Foster

Hello, my name is Asrat, I’m a male foster carer, when I became a carer I told my youngest brother about it and he said to me, when he thinks of fostering, older women or elderly retired couple come to his mind but he never thought younger single men would be interested or involved.

I think these sorts of views are expressed because it’s mistakenly believed that women are best suited to handle the challenges of fostering and naturally more caring than men. I believe men are equally capable of handling challenges and can be caring as well.

As a male foster carer since 2013 I have had challenging times which I have managed well and have also been providing very good care to my young person in care.

“Rewards and challenges are part and parcel of fostering”

I used to work at my local council before I became a foster carer. That is where I got involved with the council’s fostering office working with unaccompanied asylum seekers from different parts of the world. I came to know about fostering there and had a chance to work with some social workers. It was fulfilling and satisfying being able to help others. I decided to be a full time foster carer and opened my doors to a child to give him a warm and friendly home. Fostering is rewarding when I see the positive differences I made in a child’s life after he had stayed with me.  And it can also be challenging when a child, for different reasons doesn’t want to engage with me and refuses to be helped.

“My supervising social worker is a phone call away for any query I may have.”

Rewards and challenges are part and parcel of fostering. Fostering in my opinion is a noble profession because it involves shaping a child’s life into becoming a productive and successful citizen. It requires resilience and lots of patience. Thankfully I have GLF’s full support whenever I need it. I have been getting relevant training and my supervising social worker is a phone call away for any query I may have.

All in all, my fostering journey since 2013 has taught me some valuable lessons. I have learned to be more patient and understanding.  If there are any men out there wondering about fostering, I encourage you to consider it seriously, you will not be disappointed.