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"Fostering is not like a job to us, it just part of our life."

Meet foster parents Sarah and Paul who have been fostering with FCA North West since 2021. Here's their story so far...

June 13 2024 - 5 min read

Meet publicans Sarah and Paul from Blackpool who been together 30 years and have a 12 year old daughter and a five year old French bull dog. In 2021 they embarked on their fostering journey and five months after the process began they were approved.

Sarah and Paul tell us what motivated them to foster.

“Living in Blackpool, we're aware of how fortunate our daughter is. During the school run, we witnessed some children facing tough situations and this inspired us to want to help improve the lives of as many children as possible regardless of the length time they live with us. When we told our family and friends our plans to foster, initially they were a bit shocked but they've been really supportive about it."

“We always said we would want younger children as we knew that would work best for our family dynamic. We did get offered a lot of children, but it was a phone call from the referrals team with an emergency placement for two babies aged one and two years old where Paul and I looked at each other and immediately said yes.”

“We were told they wouldn’t be living us for long, that was two years ago! We knew very little about these children and their circumstances only that they would be arriving some time in the evening."

“When the children arrived, they didn’t have any belongings. After we'd fed them, Paul stayed downstairs to care for them while the social worker and I made up the cots. The bedroom we had was arranged for a child aged five to 10, so we had to adjust the setup."

“The youngest child couldn’t walk and he wouldn't be held. At first, he wouldn't lie on his back to have his nappy changed because obviously he wasn't used to that either. We would lay him down sing to him and that seemed to soothe him. The older child at two years old would have outbursts aimed mostly at her younger sibling. We used our own parenting methods drawing from our experiences with our daughter. Over time, the outbursts decreased and the behaviour improved."

“There's a lot of support available from FCA if and when you need it. We didn't feel we needed any extra support, but with FCA there's always someone available at the end of the phone. There are also plenty of training courses to attend which we have really enjoyed doing. We do have help from my mum and she comes to look after the children when Paul and I assist our daughter with her cheerleading which can take us all over the Country."

“Our most cherished fostering moments involve looking back at all the photos from beginning to end and seeing the transformation. It's only when the social workers and our family and friends said to us you've done wonders with the children, you must be so proud of yourselves. To be honest we didn't really notice as we just focus on our everyday routines and simply carrying on with life. The youngest now gives the best baby hugs. Seeing the change in both of them, being able to take them out for a meal as a family, is truly special. But also other things too like how their bond has grown, they share toys and play together occasionally. The difference from start to finish is remarkable."

“Our challenges as foster parents revolved around the fact that as the children were very young any bump or minor injury meant a trip to the Walk-In Centre, with all accidents or incidents being recorded, which isn't something you would necessarily do for your own child, and that can be demanding. Of course there have been ups and downs with our daughter, she wanted to be a big sister and when the children arrived it was a bit of a culture shock for her. Additionally, I believe that for our daughter, it has been a learning process to share us but also for us too dividing our attention and juggling / balancing your time amongst all the children. I did go on girlie weekends away with our daughter to support her cheerleading and Paul as the main carer would stay at home with the younger children."

What would your advice be to someone that's thinking about starting fostering?
“Do your research. Think about it. Find out about the financial aspects and ensure you're undertaking fostering for the right reasons."

Summing up their fostering experience as a whole Sarah and Paul said;
“It's been a struggle at times and it can be challenging, but we like a challenge. There are difficult moments, but they are rewarding. Since fostering, as a family, we've had to become more organised and make arrangements in advance where possible."

“The children have been with us for two years and they are now three and four years old. Witnessing the growth from where they were to where they are now and imagining the life they will lead is unbelievably fulfilling. Going through the entire bridging to adopt process and moving the children on to their forever family was incredibly emotional. But the whole reason we came into fostering for us was always to nurture them into children eligible for adoption."

Fostering is not like a job to us, it just part of our life.

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