a change in career; our decision to foster

Having a large family was something I always dreamed of when I was younger but after falling pregnant really easily at the age of 22 and giving birth to our oldest son in 1999 it took me a long time to conceive again. After infertility investigations and a pregnancy that ended in miscarriage, my husband and I finally had another boy in 2010. We now have a lovely family but with an eleven year age gap between our 21 year old and our 10 year old it sometimes feels like we have raised two only-children and it would be great for our youngest boy to have other siblings /children to play with. Fostering and adoption was something we had previously considered but our preference was to have our children, if possible. Unfortunately I have been unable to have any more children naturally and being in my mid-forties I have realised that the only way to now extend our family is to consider fostering or adoption.

meeting a foster child

About six years ago close friends of ours started fostering a young girl whom I shall call Alice. We spent a lot of time with Alice and age-wise she fitted in perfectly between our two boys. We would sometimes pick Alice up from school and have her back to ours for a while, sometimes she came to us for a whole day at the weekend or in the holidays and she would occasionally stay overnight. As we only had three bedrooms it meant we had to move our youngest son out of his bedroom so that she could have her own room. We always had a great time and shared lots of happy times with Alice and she just felt like part of the family.

the journey to applying

We had been thinking of developing our house to make our kitchen bigger and decided to extend our plans to give us an extra bedroom meaning that Alice would have been able to have her own bedroom allowing us to provide more frequent and longer respite breaks for Alice, thereby giving our friends more support.

Sadly the planning process for our building work took much longer than we anticipated and three years later our building work has only just completed. During this time Alice has moved on from her placement with our friends although we are delighted that we still occasionally get to see her when she comes back to visit them.

Now we have a bigger house we feel we have the space and the love to share our home and family with another child. Deciding to foster has been a very challenging decision to reach - not least because it will mean that I will have to either significantly reduce my hours or give up working altogether. While I love my job working for one of the emergency services, I know that I would love to be able to spend more time at home with my own children.

Working seven days a week and putting in some very long hours during the early part of the COVID-19 crisis certainly made me re-evaluate my priorities and how I want to be spending my time in the future. I would also like to know that I am doing something with my life that is making a real difference to someone else while utilising some of the skills I have to offer and fostering fits that requirement in a number of ways.

stepping into the unknown

My husband and I are both aware that Fostering is very much a job that we will be paid to do and that we need to look at it as a professional commitment with certain rules and expectations we will have to meet. However, we certainly aren’t going into it for the financial reward but because we want to make a tangible difference to the lives of children and young people in care and because we believe we have lots to offer as a family.

It is daunting to be stepping into the unknown as we don’t know what impact it will have on our family or whether we will even be any good at parenting a child who may have a challenging background or additional needs but we can only try our best and we agreed that we would rather give it a go and fail than not even try in the first place. We have no doubt that it will be challenging at times but we know that we will receive great training and support from the fostering agency and we have spoken to other people who foster who have reassured us about how rewarding it can be.

advice to others who are interested in fostering

I am sure there are many other people who have a spare room and space in their hearts to give a home and lots of love and support to a child who needs it. Lots of people wouldn’t consider themselves as suitable foster carers and may have lots of assumptions about what is required or involved. Our advice would be to get in touch with asphaleia and ask all your questions without fear of making any obligation or commitment. It took us three years from when we first approached the agency to actually being in a position to start the application process. Throughout that time we have found asphaleia to be very supportive and not at all pushy, they have been understanding of the situation we were in and they were ready to progress the process with us whenever we felt ready. It is a really exciting journey to be embarking upon and we can’t wait to get started!

We are running a virtual Q&A with our fostering manager on Monday 6th of July. Email us on headoffice@asphaleia.co.uk to register your interest in attending and we can email you further details.

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