Fostering since 2008, Michelle and her husband have fostered 25 children and young people in their 15 year fostering career. Now the couple mange a busy household with 14 children altogether; including 4 birth children, 7 adopted, and 3 they are currently fostering.
Michelle shares her incredible fostering journey so far, and the fantastic support she’s received from FCA Midlands to encourage more foster parents to help change children’s lives…
Michelle recalls the moment when she decided to take the first steps in her fostering journey. She explains: “It was something that's always been there in my mind because my mum talked about it when I was little. We went so far down the road and we didn't go any further. But the idea of fostering was always in my mind, and I wanted to know more.”
“One day, I was driving past the FCA Midlands office at the time, and saw a poster advertising fostering, and I just thought I’d stop and go inside for a chat with the local team. We then started the process, and the rest as they say is history!”
“We started with respite fostering, but as the years went on, my husband gave up work as well to foster full time.”
Talking about the children and young people in her care, Michelle explains: “We have four birth children of our own (three of the oldest boys have left home, whilst our birth daughter who is 23 this year lives at home), and seven we’ve adopted. The oldest of our adopted children is now nearly 15. We've had him since he was one and all the other six straight from birth. All seven are biological siblings with the same birth mum, but with different birth fathers between them.”
“I wouldn't have my children today if it wasn't for FCA. They came to us and we made the decision to go on and adopt them after fostering and keep them altogether as there were born.”
“Whether they are my birth child, fostered, or adopted, there is nobody in this house that is treated any differently. Everyone is treated the same and equal.”
When asked how she manages a busy family household, she said: “We just make life as easy as we can. Don't get me wrong, we have 7 different school runs to coordinate, and nearly all of them do extracurricular activities, but we’ve got a huge support network and that's key when you've got a lot of children.”
Speaking about the support she’s received from FCA Midlands, she said: “You know that they will help and support you. There is a huge commitment that FCA have to the children and young people in their care. I know I can pick the phone up at any point of the day or night and speak to somebody and they’ve got you back.”
She continued: “Even if it's something that you or a young person needs on an individual level, you know that door's open.”
When asked about how her own birth children have adapted to fostering, she replies: “They're all completely on board with it. They all get it. They all understand it and it, to be honest with you, it's made them better people.”
She continue to explain: “One has gone on to have their own children, so I’ve got 2 grandsons. In the time we’ve been fostering, they’ve learned so much and it’s set them up to be parents themselves.”
“I have to go back to the fantastic support we had from FCA, because at the time when we went through our Skills to Foster training, they had a birth children group. My birth children would use this group to connect with others; they would share their experience, anxieties, and questions – all from a child’s perspective.”
Reminiscing about all the children she’s fostered over the years, Michelle said: “I’ll never forget any of the children I’ve fostered. I know when they were born, I know the dates of birth, and I ensure I find out as much as possible about them - whether they are with me for a day or 10 years.”
“We're still in touch with some of the young people today that we had fostering 15 years ago, and some of them still called us Mum and Dad.”
She concludes, “One of the best things of fostering for us is seeing the progress in a young person, it’s just incredible to watch them grow and thrive.”
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