David and Sharon’s Story

Archived: Posted November 15, 2016

“The past three years have been so rewarding.  Occasionally you’ll hit a bump in the road and then things will settle again”

David and Sharon Osborne from Larne in Northern Ireland, have been foster carers with Foster Care Associates (FCA) Northern Ireland for three years. The couple feel lucky to have had a young person stay with them for the duration of their three year journey. Initially an emergency placement, this young person has ended up staying with the couple and created a really wonderful bond with them.Capture sharon and david

Describing their fostering experience as ‘wonderful’ Sharon reflects back on the events that lead the couple to consider becoming foster carers.  She said:  ‘’Years ago my sister fell really ill and social services asked David and I to stand in and help take care of our two nieces. We looked after both of them for a year and continued to take care of one of them on a longer basis.  We just wanted to do our best in keeping them safe and on the right path at school and in life. Little did we know that this rewarding experience would prepare us for the world of fostering.

‘’I could really relate to my nieces and other children who may not have parents around to look after them, as at a really young age I lost my mum. It was this experience and knowing that we could be doing more to help children in need that inspired us to find out more about foster care.

‘’David and I first contacted the local Trust who told us it could take up to two years before we would be able to have our first placement. After feeling disheartened by this we decided to do some research online. FCA Northern Ireland really stood out straight away.

‘’We were impressed with their approach, the 24 hour support service on offer, infact the whole support package. We got in touch with them straight away, and they came over to see us the very next day, and within four months we were fostering.’’

Sharon talks about their family dynamic and how they felt about their decision to foster.  She said:  ‘’As a family we are a team. We tackle any important decisions together. Although they are already grown up it was important for us to consider our son and daughter in our decision. They were extremely supportive of us. We also spoke to David’s family to gain their advice, and they were more than just supportive – after talking through our decision to foster with them, they too have become foster carers!

‘’Since our fostering journey began we have had one really consistent long term placement. What started out as emergency care for a young person turned into a three year placement. In between looking after this young person we have also cared for children of all ages on a respite or emergency basis, some with learning difficulties.’’

When asked about the reactions David and Sharon get from people who know they are foster carers, they explained that they respond to any reactions with encouragement: ‘’People are generally really positive about us being foster carers, however they do wonder how you cope with new people coming in and out of your home and the general changes you need to make to your lifestyle. People are quite inquisitive when we tell them we are foster carers. We try to encourage them to find out more about it.’’

Sharon also reflected on some of the difficulties the couple have experienced as carers and the kind of support they have receive from FCA.  She said: ‘’Children go through stable and unstable periods. Past experiences or issues with their birth families can often spark heightened, difficult behaviour. Initially our long term placement seemed to really try and challenge us. It was almost as though this was her way of making sure we weren’t going to leave her when things got tough.

‘’You’ve just got to have patience and the ability to talk through any issues that may arise. Be sure to talk on their time though, when they are ready to open up. If you wait and let things unfold naturally it all becomes so clear and worthwhile. For example once our long term placement had realised we were in it for the long run she asked us if she could call us her mum and dad. We agreed and she is 100 percent part of our family unit.

‘’FCA Northern Ireland offer fantastic support. We went to all of their training sessions and still continue to do so. They also offer support groups and phone call assistance 24 hours a day. One of the best methods of support they have offered us is the ‘wrap around’ Team Parenting® support.   This is where the child or young person’s teachers, social worker, psychologist  and parents work together to help get the child through important stages in their life such as GCSE’s.’’

David and Sharon really struggled to pick just one memorable fostering moment.  Sharon said: ‘’Our foster child is so talented. If we had to think of a memorable fostering moment it would definitely be linked to her fantastic achievements.  She achieved 8 GCSE’s and has now gone on to complete her A-Levels with the hope of going to university. Not only is she extremely bright, she also sang at this year’s IFCO conference in Sheffield and we were so proud of her.

‘’Jan Rees, one of the co-founders of FCA described her as ‘having a voice on an angel’, and also said that her journey and confidence was the most inspirational thing she had witnessed over the entire conference. That was definitely an extremely memorable moment for us.’’

David and Sharon offer some advice to new carers and those thinking about becoming foster carers.  Sharon said:  ‘’If we had any advice to give it would be to never let a situation escalate. Get as much help as you need and if in doubt contact FCA. They are always there on the end of a phone call or available to visit.

‘’We are strong advocates for FCA, we see them as an extended family. From the team in the office, to our support worker, they’re all incredible. If anyone was considering fostering we would tell them to get in touch with FCA Northern Ireland and chat to them about the process and what to expect, this way you can make an informed decision.’’

The couple compare their overall experience of fostering to a roller coaster ride: ‘’Sometimes it’s like a roller coaster, you just don’t know how it’ll go. Occasionally you’ll hit a bump in the road and then things will settle again. The past three years have been absolutely wonderful and so rewarding. We have learned so much about ourselves in this process too.”

How can we help?

Ready to start fostering a child or young person? Or just want a bit more information to help you decide whether fostering is for you? All you need to do is contact us.

Phone us

Call us on 0800 023 4561 (lines open Monday - Thurs: 9am - 7pm, Fri: 9am - 6pm)

Fostering a child or young person is a big decision so we're here to answer any questions you may have. Our friendly fostering advisors, many of whom are carers themselves, can talk you through everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer.

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Phone us

Call us on 0800 023 4561 (lines open Monday - Thurs: 9am - 7pm, Fri: 9am - 6pm)

Fostering a child or young person is a big decision so we,re here to answer any questions you may have. Our friendly fostering advisors, many of whom are carers themselves, can talk you through everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Call me back

Haven't got time to chat now? Leave your details and we'll call you back at a time that suits you:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Why do we need this? So we can email you a brochure.
  • Why do we need this? We appreciate that starting to foster is a big decision that needs careful consideration and you are likely to have questions. We’d like to help answer those questions.
  • Please enter your postcode to see news and events in you area
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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