Foster parent, Nina Kelly sits down to discuss her first year in fostering during a pandemic and shares her magical memories of a family bonding at Christmas.
First joining FCA back in November 2020, Nina Kelly has spent the last year embarking on a new foster care journey, providing a loving home for children in care.
Sharing what inspired her to become a foster parent, Nina said: “Prior to meeting my current partner, I had already made enquires to becoming a foster parent. It was always there at the back of my mind. Due to circumstances, it never seemed like the right time but after talking it through with my current partner, he was equally in love with joining me on this journey.”
“We had in fact just moved into our new home, and we got in touch with FCA. As my partner has his own birth child aged 17, we needed to keep our spare room free for him, so our journey was temporarily put on hold. Eventually, when he turned 18, FCA got back in touch, and it was at that point we took the leap.”
After giving up her job in hospitality and starting their journey in lockdown, Nina said she would never go back. Nina added: “When I started this process, I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to get out of my old job and start something that made a difference to a young person’s life.”
Reflecting on her current foster child, Nina shared how her first long term placement came about. Nina shared: “Initially coming to us in March 2020, he was only going to be with our family temporarily but due to unforeseen circumstances, he is now with us long term and we wouldn’t want it any other way.”
“We only had 24 hours’ notice from the boys’ social workers so I immediately went to my sister’s house to get anything I could to make up his room for when he arrived. When he did turn up to our house, he only had the clothes on his back and the first thing he said to me was ‘Hello, please could I see my room’. He has such a wonderful personality, and he has just slotted in perfectly to our family.”
Family is everything. Nina said: “We are very much a team in our family. It is not just me that does everything, we all work together. Even my own birth child who is 15 years old has been very much involved. This Christmas, he has taken on the role as big brother and has been doing ‘Elf on the Shelf’ which is lovely to see.”
Talking about the two boy’s relationship, Nina said: “It is just your typical sibling relationship, they bicker, and they make up. I think this fostering experience has taught my birth son a lot because he now realises how privileged he is. From holidays abroad every year, always getting what he wanted at Christmas and to then welcome a child into his home that had nothing. I think it was a good learning experience for him that not every child is just as privileged.”
Being able to make a positive difference and create happy memories has been one of Nina’s favourite parts of fostering. Sharing a special memory, Nina said: “We recently took the boys to a pantomime this year and my birth son was texting me throughout saying ‘look at his face’. Our foster child was truly in awe of the pantomime experience. It is all those little things that make it all so well worthwhile.”
“Another wonderful thing we have been able to do during lockdown is getting the family down to the coast. He had never been to the beach before and it was a huge moment for him. We went on Easter Sunday, it was snowing, he had his wellies on, and he just couldn’t believe what he was seeing. That is probably my favourite memory to date.”
In terms of advice for new foster parents, Nina shared: “When going into fostering, it is important to think about how your house runs and how you will incorporate a child into that. When my foster child came to me, he had no routine, but I put one in straight away. School, dinner, bath, story and then bedtime. That was introduced at the very beginning, and it has remained this way and it has worked so well for him and his progression.”
Over the course of her first year of fostering, Nina beamed about the support from FCA. Nina said: “FCA are absolutely fabulous and so supportive. You always know that someone is at the end of the phone to help with everything and anything. I am so glad we went with FCA for our fostering experience, and I can’t imagine another agency being as good as this.”
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