Jonathan and Ricci’s Story

Archived: Posted March 23, 2017

‘’If you get the chance to do something extraordinary like fostering, then you should take that leap.’’

Jonathan (37) and Ricci (31) from Stoke-on-Trent have been foster carers with Foster Care Associates (FCA) for more than two years. The couple, who have been together for nine years, explain that they chose to be foster carers rather than adopt because of the number of children and young people already out there who are in need of a loving home and would benefit from their support.

Jonathan said: ‘’When my partner Ricci was just eleven years old his mother passed away. The rest of his family were unable to look after him so he went into the care system. Having not had the best experience in care Ricci has always been inspired to become a foster carer and do the best possible job looking after children and young people in need. It was his lifelong dream that inspired both Ricci and I to be foster carers.

‘’People often ask us why we have chosen to foster rather than adopt but the truth is we feel there are already so many children out there that can benefit from a loving home and our care.’’

Why we became foster carers

Ricci and Jonathan were first recommended to FCA by a friend, Jonathan said: ‘’A friend of ours often spoke to us about fostering, she fostered with FCA at the time and recommended that we get in touch with them if we considered becoming foster carers.

‘’Before we made any decisions we spoke to everybody. I knew that it would be essential that our friends and family were on board and available for support. At first they had questions and were worried, but if you get the chance to do something extraordinary like fostering then you should take the leap and do it. Fostering isn’t a regular job so it has to be an all or nothing decision.

‘’Once our friends and family were on board with our decision we got in touch with FCA who immediately reassured us. Since then we have already had a number of different fostering placements come and stay with us including children on a long term basis, on respite care and under emergency care.

Types of foster placements

‘’We are currently looking after two young people, a 17 year old young man who has been with us for two years and a nine year old boy who has been with us for more than one year now. This mix of ages works really well for us, with both young people getting along really well and wanting to remain in our care on a longer term.

‘’The teenager we are looking after will be going into independent living next year when he turns 18 having completed various useful FCA courses preparing him for this next stage in life. This feels like a great achievement for us. When he first arrived in our care he didn’t speak much and since then he has really come out of his shell. We’ll still keep an eye on him from a far watching him grow and will always be there for him.’’

Jonathan explains that although they have experienced some challenging situations fostering feels like his true calling, he said: ‘’We have experienced some challenging situations which can cause you to really doubt yourself and your abilities when the truth is you can only do your best. It isn’t your fault or the fault of the young person in your care. They may have experienced circumstances in the past that lead to situations beyond your control.

‘’We wouldn’t have got through challenging times without the profound help and support of FCA. Both the social and support workers are fantastic and FCA offered all kinds of support for us such as sessions with the FCA therapist, and arranging respite care for the placement in our care at the time.

‘’Upon reflection we have come to realise that sometimes these kids act out of character as they are simply trying to express themselves sand communicate with you. For example one of our placements pinched another child at a birthday party a while ago. We were able to get to the bottom of this quite quickly realising that he behaved this way simply out of jealousy. Once speaking to him we found out that he was upset that he had never had his own birthday party before. This was now something we had the chance to rectify for him.

 ‘’I’ve always found that I’ve lost interest and never really been very good at other jobs, not like fostering. I love fostering and the fact that each new day presents its own challenges and rewards.  However, Ricci still works full time for Stoke-based Fenns, a company which provides business supplies.  Fenns is recognised as a Fostering Friendly employer and their managing director Louise gives Ricci so much flexibility something that we are both extremely appreciative of – there are simply not enough employers, both big and small, who support their staff who are foster carers.”

How FCA supports foster carers

The couple describe their fostering journey so far as better than they could have imagined. Jonathan said: ’’Fostering with FCA has turned out to be even better and more rewarding than we could have imagined. We really do love these children and young people, and the moment a child in your care opens up their heart to you and loves you back is priceless.

‘’We’ve experienced so many memorable moments over the two years. A time that sticks in our memory was when our teen placement told us he loved us and thanked us for taking care of him. When he first said it, it came as a complete shock and something we never expected a teenager to open up about.  Another significant fostering moment for us was when our youngest placement created a really special family portrait picture.

‘’In the picture he had drawn both his birth family and our family, including his foster brother all holding hands. He placed himself on our side of the family portrait indicating to us that he was acknowledging his birth family but that he is now part of our family too, and how this all works together in his life. This really meant a lot to us especially as he is still so young and we often worry about whether he is fully aware of his new start in life.’’

Ricci and Jonathan conclude with some advice to people who may be thinking about becoming foster carers. They said: ‘’Be prepared for a shakeup. Fostering will completely change your life. We believe it is the same as having birth children. There’ll be times when the child will make you happy and full of joy, but there will also be times when they can disappoint you. We believe the key is finding the right fostering agency to help guide you through the good and the bad, this is what makes a real difference. Do your research and find the agency that offers the maximum amount of support and find what’s best for you, just like we did with FCA.’’      

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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