We so often hear about the negative experiences that people have with Foster care.
Not saying that there aren’t difficulties incurred when you take on the raising of someone else’s child but what of the positive, heart -warming experiences many of us have had.
I started Fostering as a single Mum when I was just 23 years old. Naturally I had no idea what I was doing. Making things even more entertaining is the fact that my first Foster child was 16 which made her a whole seven years younger than me. Talk about a steep learning curve for both of us!! She is now 35, living a wonderful life with a nine year old daughter.
I went on to Foster 29 children in the 15 years that followed and I can honestly say that it has created a richness of fabric to my life that I am truly grateful for. I am more often than not asked all the harrowing questions by people contemplating Foster care. “How did you go when they were taken off you?” “Weren’t they really damaged?” “Did it have a negative effect on your own children?” Never has anyone asked me if it was the most wonderful thing I have ever done.
Not unlike our journey with our own children, there are always going to be difficult times. Yes, handing them back is hard. Yes, they can come with issues that require a certain skill set….and yes, your children will be affected but in my experience this has been in a positive way. When they are taken away you have to hope that you have made a difference in the time that you have had them
When it comes to nurturing them back to health and providing a sense of security, much of this can be done with providing good food, made with love; an experience many of them have never had.
I learnt humility as a carer. I have learnt not to judge and more than anything I have been guided by each individual child who has come in to my care what it is they need. I have been blessed in creating a patchwork quilt of a family that bring me joy daily. We are as close, if not closer than a normal family for we have walked a path together that has relied on the commitment and support of one another.
I am well aware that every carer has a different story and I have no judgement around that.
I can only share my story. I have loved and I am now deeply loved. I have learnt and continue to do so…daily. I have received far more than I have given which I never expected. There have been tough times but a huge part of my growth has been found in navigating my way through these times.
I would not change my Fostering experience for the world. It’s not for everyone but you won’t know until you try. There are 50,000 kids out there hoping that you do. It is without a doubt life changing, and in my case, in a truly glorious way.