What made you consider fostering?
I have been a foster carer with Swiis Foster Care for 10 years. My husband wanted to foster so I said I would support him and we did the training together. Sadly, he died and I decided to follow his dream. I’ve loved my new life as that’s how it feels – good times and bad, but it’s very rewarding.
I hadn’t initially considered fostering teenagers as I didn’t like my own! I was nervous in the lead up to my first teenage placement as didn’t know what to expect, and the first young girl I got was very difficult, but somehow I stuck with her through it – heart ache and all. We both learned a lot, and I had fantastic support from my social worker. She arrived and took my heart – we have no idea what these kids have suffered.
What experiences would you like to share with someone considering fostering teenagers?
I didn’t understand how disruptive fostering teenagers would be as it changes the whole house as I had my own young children who did not like the other children giving me back chat as that was clearly their job (!), so you do need to juggle many balls in the air!
They are more challenging, but you can also understand why once you get some history with each one, and at the end of the day they deserve a chance. It can be a lovely feeling supporting vulnerable young men and women.
Time is essential for the success of a placement, and I will remind young people that they must give me time to get to know them and them me. It doesn’t happen straight away, but you will discover they find sneak into your heart.
The joy you get from kids who want you in their life long after they leave your care, knowing they appreciate how you gave them a loving home to feel safe enough to challenge you, and know you stay strong for them.
However, not all placements work, as a foster carer you can only do your best, so please don’t give up, a good match can just be around the corner. I have also adopted a young person who I couldn’t live without in my life – sometimes it’s so right!
What do you value most about fostering?
The best reward for me is that several of the children are now old enough to start their own family, and I feel so proud that they bring their babies to visit me. I’ve been privileged to be involved with a few girls and it fills me with joy that they have turned their lives around to make good mothers.
I feel my job is a way of life that has lots of challenges, but I love my job and feel I do it to the best of my abilities. Sometimes I fail, but sometimes I get it just right – as you do as a parent it doesn’t come with a book you need to fly it by the seat of your pants!
The good days are when you see them settle into your home and it all comes together – that’s what keeps me motivated. I’ve adopted one young man so my family has grown. My own 6 children know that I love kids and I will always be with kids in my house.
It’s the way I want to live – I open my home and heart to kids. Sometimes it’s painful, but any job worth doing has its price to pay!
What are some of the best and worst things about fostering teenagers?
The hardest is that the ones who need you the most try to push you away. Teenagers are harder to deal with as they have had a rough time and they come with chips on their shoulders. You find most want to be loved, but fight you off as they don’t want to be let down yet again. Many of the young people can be needy, vulnerable and desperate, but also just amazing young people who need a home!
This is why as a foster carer for teenagers, you need tolerance, understanding and most of all you need to care.
The best things are that the teenagers placed with you can need you more than your own children! I’ve always tried to show the kids that they should love each other and treat each other with respect. Often they have not been shown either – I can honestly say if you take in a child and build them up with praise and love you can see them flourish. It’s a great satisfaction knowing they feel safe.
If this has inspired you to foster, please get in contact with us by sending us an enquiry, or by phoning us on 0333 240 9049.