“Glad that we kept trying”: Finding room to foster
Posted by Dave and Jackie Mason on 18th, August, 2015
My son Harry always spoke about foster children and often said it would be nice if we did it as his friend at school was in foster care. So, in a way, he had planted the seed in my mind. When my children Paul and Harry were older and Paul left home, Dave and I became a couple. Dave was so caring and yet had no children of his own. Life was good but we wanted to feel needed. Yes, Harry needed me to do his washing, ironing and cooking but we wanted the need of love and care. We would go on holiday but it was just Dave and I and we were always the ones by the pool playing games with other children. We seemed our happiest with children around us.
We started talking about fostering. We would look on the internet to find out what was needed and whether we thought we could do it. Dave works hard as a fibreglass laminator and I had a part time job as a hairdresser. It was whilst I was cutting the hair of one of my regular customers that I was telling her that I was interested in fostering and she told me that Dudley County Council was having an open evening for fostering. With great excitement I wrote down the time, date and phone number. I couldn’t wait to tell Dave. We decided to go and see what they had to say. We sat there in a group and listened to a talk about fostering and then it was our turn; they asked us some questions but sadly our hopes were soon pulled from underneath us when they told us they didn’t think we had been together long enough and to try again in another 6-12 months. So it was back to our usual lives.
Months passed and then we came across a fostering agency that were a Catholic-run company and, Dave being a Catholic, thought this was great. But after a month of home visits and talking about our family life to a man, he decided that because I had been divorced and had had other relationships that we weren’t suitable. (He also let us know that he was still married to the same wife). Our dreams had been shattered once again, but this time I felt that it was my fault and I couldn’t change my past nor did I want to because it is who I am. So we decided to leave fostering for a while. We planned our wedding. We had a great wedding and a wonderful honeymoon but in our hearts we still wanted to give love to someone who needs us.
We were at Dave’s Mom’s house and she gave us a leaflet for FCA Dudley’s opening times. I said to Dave on the way to FCA that if we were rejected again then this was the last time for trying. We sat at a table with a gentleman telling him all about our past, and what happened before with the different agencies we had visited. He said that he couldn’t see why we couldn’t foster but let us know that we would need to be assessed. We both felt that at last someone was giving us our chance.
Weeks passed and then our assessor came to see us. Over the months she built up a picture about us and our family. She spoke to Harry and spoke to Paul. We had to get two references each. She even had to speak to my ex-husband. She reassured us and said everyone has a past. We went to the Journey to Foster course for three days in Coventry where we discussed allegations, safer caring, and all the other aspects of fostering. We were given a date for panel. Our assessor once again reassured us all the way through. We knew that she was only doing her job but she was really important to us. She told us to do all the things we needed to, such as a welcome pack etc. and take it to panel. We went to panel, we were nervous. I seemed to do all the talking but remembered that I had to let Dave talk too. After we were asked the questions, we waited outside the room whilst the panel decided. We went back in and were told YES, we could foster short term. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. We were so happy. We couldn’t wait to tell our family and friends.
Immediately we got to work, we decorated the bedroom. We asked ourselves questions such as what age? Boy or girl? We met our social worker, Kulvinder. I was asking questions like when shall I give my notice in at work? I loved that job. I remembered someone saying that it could be months before we got our first placement. I was lucky though because my boss was also my best friend. We were getting calls from the placement team so I decided that it was time to give my notice in. The Monday after I had my last day at work, the placement team rang and described a 6 year old boy. I said YES, YES, YES. I rang Dave at work with so much excitement and told him. We arranged through our social worker and J’s carers that he would come for tea on Thursday night. We sat patiently with so many thoughts going through our mind. Then a little boy and his carer knocked on the door and they came in. We had a great time with J and after we dropped him home, we couldn’t stop talking about him. The next day, we were sat waiting again for J to come but this time it was for good. Kulvinder was with us to welcome J into our home. His carers brought J and his belongings and we said our goodbyes to the carers. J still had a smile on his face. It was an emotional time for us and his previous carers but our time had finally come and begun.
With the support of Kulvinder and attending training and support groups, we have grown as foster carers. Having J has brought lots of joy to our lives. J was a long term placement and we were approved only for short term so we had to go back to panel but this time we knew what was happening. We were then approved to be long term carers.
We feel that we are better people for fostering and we are glad that we kept trying because we believe that everything happens for a reason.
Thank you to all those that have supported us on our journey.