“There are moments when he does something that stops me dead in my tracks and I am in awe of him”
Single foster parent, Lynne shares her fostering experience over the past two decades.
Over twenty years ago in 1993, Lynne and her partner Phil embarked on a new walk of life within fostering which has led her to become one of FCA’s longest fostering parents.
Sharing two birth children, Lynne said, “We both wanted more children, but we knew it wasn’t going to happen naturally so after our two children we looked to start fostering.
“Over the course of five years, we looked after around 13 children with the Local Authority. One day Phil came across a FCA advert in the paper and at this time we had just said goodbye to our latest child. We rang and requested a brochure, we were shocked at the amount of support that FCA offered. In 1998 we were approved, and the rest has been history.”
The couple continued to foster for another 17 years, but in 2015 Phil sadly passed away due to a brain tumour. “He was so resilient and because of this, there was a local award actually named after him that goes towards children in Wales who show the most resilience. The children who win the awards are honestly so fitting and I know Phil would be immensely proud.
“I would not be where I am without FCA. All the way through Phil’s illness, FCA helped support us and even gifted us a weekend away in a beautiful spa hotel without the children. We knew the inevitable was going to happen so that was a lovely time for just us two.”
Adapting to life as a single parent, Lynne shared her experience from the past six years. “I resisted for a long time after Phil passed as I didn’t want to change what I was doing so I became a single carer.
“It is very different being a single foster carer and can be challenging at times. We recognised this and at FCA we actually set-up a single carers support group. We found that all us single parents go to the support groups, but it was quite couple focused, so we thought we’d create our own one to share our own experiences.
“You have to change your way of life. I can barely go for a shower alone, but we turn it into fun. In these conversations, we can share experiences and advice which has really helped each other. It is very different to fostering with a partner because you can’t just take turns in who will look after the child. It is a 24-7 job.”
In her two decades of fostering, there have been countless memorable and rewarding moments. Sharing one of her most recent rewarding moments, Lynne said it has to be seeing the wonderful impact she has had on her current foster child, Harry*, who was diagnosed with autism at three years old.
“When Harry* arrived the day before Christmas Eve, he was very traumatised, non-verbal, non-communicative and suffered from double incontinence. As a single parent, it was extremely stressful but FCA has been very supportive and encouraging.
“It took three weeks to get him into our local specialist school which did offer some respite. He was taking medication to help him sleep but he woke in the night. His diet was very limited and due to his speech, he couldn’t tell me what he wanted.
“Fast forward 6 months to now, he is talking and actually using sentences. I can hear myself in him when he speaks and maybe not the full structure of a six-year-old but still unbelievable progress. He tells me very clearly what he would like, and he is so funny. He is not on medication and he goes to bed with a good routine and sleeps through and uses the loo for everything.”
With a diploma in both Autism and Understanding Autism, Lynne has now had Harry* in her care for 15 months and shares her advice on fostering autistic children. “He is very demanding so his behaviour needs managing, he will always need a specialist education setting and he will always have difficulty when out of his comfort zone, but he will always be delightful. I can truly say he brings me and everyone he meets so much joy.
“As a single parent, caring for a child with Autism can be challenging at times and there often isn’t anyone else in the house, so my advice is don’t sit there, seek help. FCA are a family so talk to the team manager, they are always there to help you if you are struggling or need guidance.”
Reflecting on her fostering experience under the pressures of a pandemic, Lynne explains there has been a silver lining: “When COVID first struck, we did struggle at home. After a few weeks Harry* was in full time as a vulnerable young person.
“He returned to school in September a different child. The school even commented on his huge progress and even moved him up a class. Having the holidays meant I could work with him on his communication. I toilet trained him in three weeks so he could go to school out of nappies during the day and his speech really improved.
“During the pandemic we have spent so much more time together. I have been able to give Harry* new experiences. Last Summer we managed to get to Blackpool, and we did so many wonderful things. We took trips up and down the Promenade in a pink carriage, Harry* loves pink so we stayed in a pink hotel and took a tram ride. We loved it.
For those looking to become foster parents, Lynne said from experience, “Go and do Journey to Foster. You can meet and speak to so many other foster carers. Asking questions is honestly the best way to find out if fostering is for you.”
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