Last month was National Children of Foster Carers month. The Fostering Network have previously run Sons and Daughters month celebrating children of foster carer families. They have decided to change this to Children of Foster Carers Month, which you can read more about on their website: Children of Foster Carers Month | The Fostering Network or listen to the included podcast explaining about the change and the aim of the month.
It is an important month in our agency calendar as we believe the contribution of birth children in the foster family should be acknowledged and celebrated. As well as the sacrifices made, children of foster families can offer so much to fostered children in terms of companionship, support and love.
a child of foster carer's perspective
One of our foster family's children shared the following about their experience of being part of a foster family:
Having someone else coming to live with my family has been different in a good way because I now have someone closer to my age to do things with. My foster brother arrived during the pandemic when we weren’t able to see other people so it meant I had someone to play with.
Having a younger brother can be annoying at times but most of the time he is good fun and I particularly enjoy playing on the Xbox, going on the trampoline, playing football and card games with him. It is also nice to have another child when we go on family holidays.
My foster brother has lived with us for nearly three years and it feels like he’s just part of our family.
a foster carer's perspective
A foster carer also shared their experience of introducing foster children to their family and how their birth children responded:
I really wasn’t sure how my birth children would react to having foster children come into our family. Although they had both said they were supportive of the concept, the reality can understandably be quite a shock.
My eldest child is an adult so there was probably less impact on him day to day as he works long shifts and was around less often.
My youngest though was only ten years old when we had two sibling boys come to join our family. Those early days were very challenging for the whole family as the boys had come from a very chaotic background, which impacted on their behaviour.
I was so proud of both my birth children. They were so very patient and understanding. My attention was almost entirely consumed by the two younger children in those early days. Thankfully they had an earlier bedtime so we got chance to chill and hang out with the older boys once the younger two were in bed.
One of the siblings eventually ended moving to another placement as they are both much happier and safer living apart. We still see him regularly and he enjoys spending time with our family.
The sibling that remained is now very settled in our home. He’s been with us over 2.5 years and we all say he now just feels like one of us.
It is hard for birth children to have to learn to ‘share’ their parents’ time, attention and often their own belongings. Even harder when their own things get broken or damaged (thankfully only a rare occurrence).
We are lucky to have kind and patient children but it has been very testing for them at times. I believe that carving out quality time to spend with them; ensuring they still get lots of hugs, cuddles and physical affection is really important. In addition, ensuring we check in with them to see how they are doing and to explain or talk through any problems or concerns has been key to making fostering successful for our family. It’s been good for our boys to learn about how different families live and learning to help care for their younger siblings. I hope they will always have a strong bond with their foster brothers - whatever happens in the future.
a big thank you to all our foster families and especially their children
Reflecting on this month reminds us again how incredible foster families are.
Our fostering manager has taken the opportunity this month to thank the children in our foster families with a card and a box of chocolates!