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“When I see a child smile, I feel that I have done my job. It is wonderful seeing a child dancing and telling jokes. It is so rewarding.”

Meet foster parents Elizabeth and Andrew from Swansea. Fostering was always a dream of theirs, and in 2022 the time was finally right, and the couple started their journey to become foster parents with FCA Cymru.

March 14 2024 - 5 min read

Meet foster parents Elizabeth and Andrew from Swansea who have been fostering for two years with FCA Cymru.

It was Andrew’s parents' fostering experience when he was growing up that initially sparked his interest in helping others. His parents who started fostering whilst Andrew was in his teens, also hosted exchange students, so the family home was always a busy one.

Having met and married his wife Liz, he told her all about his wishes to one day welcome foster children into their own home. Liz, who comes from a large family, loved the idea of expanding their family. The idea was on hold whilst they raised their children. It was once their children started to grow up that they felt it was time to follow their dreams of helping other children and young people.

At the very start of their dream, a family member was having a difficult time, their child was about to be a child looked after. Andrew and Liz decided that they needed to put their dream on hold and look after their family. They then applied for special guardianship of their nephew; he was a toddler who needed stability, love, and support in his life.

Andrew and Liz never stopped dreaming about becoming foster parents, it was not an “if” but a “when” the time was right. Three years ago, they felt the time was right and began to research. Andrew stated, “it was easy, all I did was enter fostering into Goggle and FCA came up!”

Andrew and Liz read all about FCA and they both felt a sense of realization; FCA had all the same values that they shared. Andrew explained: “children should always come first and be at the center of all decision-making, at FCA there is a team that are always on call when required. Our own children would be included and always supported. Being included within the team of professionals that have the best interest of children in the forefront, the scope to undertake training, attend event groups to ensure foster parents health and wellbeing, well what can I say, it was an easy choice to make.”

Andrew and Liz spoke with their children and extended family; they wanted to hear their views and to express that now they felt the time was right to follow their dream. All family members backed them. Andrew rang the number and had an informal chat to begin and within a few days an appointment was booked for a face-to-face meeting.

Andrew recalls the process taking around 6 months, he explains: "yes at times it felt intrusive. However, we both understood why. We felt supported by the social worker who worked closely with us building our Form F and undertaking the assessment."

If they ever felt unsure during this time, they recalled why they were putting themselves through it, to help children and young people who could no longer live at home or with a family member.  Andrew went on to say, “a little bit of an uncomfortable conversation is nothing.”

He thought about the children who would have found themselves in a lot more uncomfortable situations than they had. Andrew & Liz attended a three-day course; this gave more insight into fostering, and they met other people also interested in becoming foster parents. It also gave them the chance to visit the local office, meet some staff and double check if fostering was for them.

With a panel date all set; the social worker assessor had explained how panel worked. She met them at the office; Andrew took this in his stride, however Liz was more anxious. The panel consisted of many independent people ranging from foster parents and Local Authorities to a doctor, care leaver, ex school teacher and social worker. Although Liz initially felt apprehensive, she went on to say: “looking back I felt the process was straight forward, we were supported throughout, the panel were nice people and they did their best to ensure that I was not nervous”.

Panel agreed that Andrew and Liz should be foster parents and recommended approval. Andrew was asked how he felt coming out of panel, he said, “I felt relieved and elated”. They were aware that the recommendation had to be signed off by the agency decision maker to ensure all regulations were fully adhered to.

Andrew and Liz recall the first time they were spoken to about a young boy coming to live with them. They received all the information that the agency had, they shared what they felt were appropriate with their family. The family agreed that they could look after the young person, offering him a safe, warm, caring, patience home.

Having now been approved foster parents for three years, they still undertake regular training, some of which is compulsory. They attend regular support groups for foster parents, which they find very helpful, it helps them meet up with their fostering (foster parents and staff members) colleagues. They use this space to ensure their self-care, learn about new policies and company updates.

Andrew feels that all foster parents should attend as much training as possible, not only to gain valuable resources but also to find a community of liked-minded people who understand the role of foster parents. They also like the fact that if they are not able to attend their closest group then they can always attend another, and there is the option to be part of an evening group should they not be able to attend the daytime.

“Being a foster parent is a multitasked role; you will find yourself being a taxi driver, a cook, a cleaner, a teacher, a mediator and a role model. You must make sure that you can attend all school meetings, medical appointments and any appointment that is curial to the young person.”

“For the past 40 years, I know I had a vocation in life to help others. My wife and I are now enjoying the roles and responsibility of helping to raise other people’s children. We will never wish to take the role of their birth parents away and we have raised our own children. Our home is always open - it is full of warmth, compassion and fun. We want all children and young people to feel a sense of belonging and inclusion. All foster parents must have patience, be kind, flexible, and a good ear for listening. Plenty of understanding and a great sense of humor is also a must!”

“There will be times when you must think on your feet. If I find myself in a situation that I need time to think before answering, my mantra is let me look into it and find out more information and I will get back to you. I would also like to add, anyone thinking of becoming a foster parent, always talk to your extended family, undertake research, and remember that all children who are looked after will have had trauma in their lives. No child or young person is the same; you will need plenty of patience, never take anything personal.”

“When I see a child smile, I feel that I have done my job. It is wonderful seeing a child dancing and telling jokes. It is so rewarding.”

Liz said “I love fostering and sharing our home and family with children. I love helping children and giving them new experiences and seeing them become more confident and opening up.”

If you've been thinking about fostering, then speak to one of our friendly advisors today and discover what it's like to foster with FCA.


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