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So, what is it like being a foster carer?

Posted by Julia on 21st, January, 2016
Relevant tags: #fostercarerstories #thamesvalley

So, what is it like being a foster carer? Well, over the course of the last five or so years, I have been bitten, kicked, slapped, punched, spat on, sworn at, had my arm slammed in a door, had doors slammed in my face, had my feet stamped on, and been regularly screamed and shouted at. I could go on but I’d rather not because these things become inconsequential when you can directly alter the course of a child’s life for the better.

Unlike most new carers, I had never actually looked after a child on my own prior to becoming a foster carer. This was pointed out to me by more than a handful of people and they were also extremely concerned that I didn’t understand how damaged and challenging the children might be. They were right. But I put all that to the back of my mind and got cracking with the training and assessment process. And here I am, sixteen children later, and I can honestly say becoming a foster carer is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

But what’s it like you say? Well, I have walked with children in the woods when they have kicked the fallen leaves for the first time. I have walked with children in the woods and down to the stream where they have filled their wellies with water for the first time. I have walked with children in the woods whilst they told me the horrors of their past, things that have rocked my foundations to the very core of my being. I have walked with children in the woods when they have held the lead of my enormous husky and sunk their fingers into his huge fur coat and seen pride in their faces for the first time. I have walked with children in the woods when they have clung on to me as though their life depended on it. I have walked with children in the woods and helped them climb a tree for the first time. I have walked with children in the woods and watched them feel safe enough to walk along a different path to me for the first time. I have walked with children in the woods and watched them set off on their bike with no help for the first time. I have walked with children in the woods and let them experience the wind in their hair and the rain on their face for the first time.

I have helped children make better choices about who they hang out with. I have helped children talk about their feelings and learn how to have feelings. I have helped children celebrate their achievements and plans and feel good about the things they enjoy. I have helped children learn to be kind to their siblings. I have helped children learn how to play and be a child without the burden of responsibility. I have helped children feel safe for the first time in their lives. I have helped a child let go of the guilt and pain he wrongly carried for the death of his baby sister.

I have sat up long into the night writing my recordings and reports that have been used as court documents to secure better outcomes for the children I have cared for. I have sat up long into the night helping a child feel safe enough to go to bed. I have sat up long into the night with a poorly child recovering from having half his teeth removed because they were rotten into his gums and he could hardly eat. I have sat up long into the night trying to figure how to help a child get through his school day without hurting anyone. I have sat up long into the night trying to come to terms with what has been disclosed to me that day.

And you know what? I wouldn’t change a single day. Because when you see a child begin to feel safe, loved, wanted, believed, trusted, worthy, and adored and then latterly attach to their future forever family, every single good, bad, and downright ugly day is completely worth it.

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