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Belinda and Mark’s story

Belinda and Mark, from Kent, have been fostering for three years.

Once the couple’s birth children moved out of the family home, Belinda and Mark had the space to foster, beginning as respite carers before welcoming a sibling group of three into their home. Belinda recounts their experience:

“Due to the sensitive and ever-changing nature of some cases, placements often come around quite last minute. This was the case for us, and were told two hours before that we were to expect a sibling group of three. The cashier at the local supermarket still remembers my frantic purchases of pyjamas, underwear and toothbrushes! The children arrived straight from school a little tearful and full of questions, but they soon settled down and the next day we all spent time together playing in the local park which was great fun.

“One of our foster children is now seven, and his sisters are eight and nine. This was originally planned as a short-term placement, as our youngest foster child was going to be adopted by someone else. The local authority then decided that it was in the children’s best interest to stay together. Taking foster children in on a permanent basis was a huge decision for us, but something we’d always wanted to do and we agreed it would be the best route for both the children and ourselves. We are very passionate about making a difference to a child’s life, and we knew we’d have the best chance of doing this by providing a stable family unit on a long-term basis.

“After a few tears on the first night, the children settled in really well and started to thrive at school – this was a joy to see and hear about from their teachers. It is very humbling to hear comments on how we are doing a good job, but we have only done what we feel comes naturally to us – giving the children love, a secure home, support with their education and had lots of fun along the way! The children are settled, confident, thriving and make us feel very happy every day, so what more could we wish for? There is still the future to think of which I’m sure will bring its challenges – which secondary school to choose? When should we allow them to have a mobile? Never mind boyfriends and girlfriends!

“Of course there have been challenging times on our fostering journey, but overall the experience has, and still continues to be, hugely rewarding. To give placements the best chance of working, it’s so important to find the best match between carer and foster children. FCA has been vital for making this match and we’re eternally grateful to them.

“For anyone who is considering fostering, I’d advise you to be patient, as the process does take a bit of time and doesn’t happen overnight. Make the most of all support networks available to you, from friends and family to your Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) and other organised support groups. We’ve been lucky to form entirely new circles of friends throughout this experience, and that support is vital in both the good and harder times.

“My only regret is not fostering sooner! We wouldn’t change anything for the world!”

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