Sarah and Steve’s story

updated at 9:40 am, June 7, 2018

Sarah and her husband, Steve, have been caring for a sibling group of four children for the past five years. Since becoming foster carers, the couple has cared for seven children in long term placements, as well as offering respite care and looking after a number of children with additional needs. Here Sarah takes us through their experiences so far:

“We first discussed the possibility of fostering after having our second son. I had to make a decision about whether to return to my office job, but I had always loved working with children, and decided to become a childminder. Over the next few years, the subject of fostering remained on our minds, until Steve came home from work one day and said “let’s just do it!”

Once Sarah and Steve decided to become foster carers, like many people, they had no idea how to go about it. Sarah says: “We initially rang Nottingham County Council and attended an open event, almost signing up there and then. We then thought it best to investigate alternatives, and by simply Googling ‘Fostering Nottingham’, I came across FCA and gave them a ring. The kind gentleman at the end of the phone immediately put me at ease and I felt like I’d known him for a lifetime. After around 20 minutes discussing how FCA could support us as foster carers, I decided that I didn’t need to call any other numbers”.

Sarah explains the reaction of family and friends to hearing their news: “We spoke to all of our friends and family at the earliest opportunity, and I must admit, some of them thought we were completely mad at first! But we knew that we were making the right decision. Once we’d explained this properly to family and friends, they were very understanding and 100% supportive of our decision. Having a strong support network is so important for anyone venturing into fostering”.

Sarah talks about the first two siblings placed with them: “The youngest child was profoundly deaf, couldn’t talk and didn’t know British Sign Language (BSL), therefore had no way of communicating. His older brother was very protective and did everything for him. These children stayed with us for two years, and there were both challenges and huge successes along the way. Most notably, both myself and the deaf child learnt BSL. He also moved into a mainstream school that specialised in educating hearing impaired children, and he thrived there. Eventually, the youngest child was adopted and the eldest child returned to a family member. Both of these situations were completely in the best interests of each child, and we couldn’t ask for anything more rewarding than the experience we had with them”.

Discussing the kind of challenges faced so far, Sarah says: “After our first placement, we cared for a six month old baby girl, as well as her younger brother born shortly after. This was one of the biggest emotional challenges we’ve had so far, due to the children being so young and us actually collecting the youngest from hospital after he was born prematurely. We worked closely with the birth mother to maintain regular contact, and after a few months both children were adopted. It was incredibly hard seeing them go, but knowing that they were staying together in a loving home was reward enough. Yes, there are always going to be challenging times as a foster carer, but seeing these children grow and thrive in your care outweighs any negatives a thousand times over”.

Speaking of their experience with FCA, Sarah says “My initial gut feeling that FCA was right for us has not been proven wrong. We work with some lovely people, both fellow carers and staff being extremely supportive. Many have become close friends, and I am now a carer rep and advocate of support groups provided by both FCA and fellow carers.

“Someone has always been on hand at FCA to provide advice and support, or just a chat when we’ve needed it. Even with social workers on hand, FCA keenly advocates for carers to support each other, which is so important. FCA also organises regular support groups, coffee mornings, social events, group training courses and events laid on for the children, helping build lifelong friendships”.

When it comes to Sarah’s advice for new foster carers, the support groups are key, as she explains: “Take advantage of the wealth of experience in your carer group – we’ve all been new and had questions. Asking for help is not a weakness, it’s a sign that you want to do the best possible job, so ask!”

Asked how she would sum up their experience as foster carers so far, Sarah says “It has been the best, most rewarding, loving, enlightening, fun job we’ve ever had. That isn’t to say it’s completely without stress, but the benefits really do outweigh any challenges.

“It’s recently been decided that the four children in our care at the moment are with us on a long term placement, with the aim of looking after them until they’re old enough to live independently. We’re really looking forward to making more memories and seeing the children continue to grow and thrive for the foreseeable future.

“For anyone thinking about becoming a foster carer, just do it! You’re sure to make a huge amount of difference to the lives of children and young people”.

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.

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

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.

Share This With A Friend