Paul and Riccardo met just over twenty-two years ago when Paul went to work in Namibia, and unbelievably it was Valentine’s Day! Paul worked in community development developing services for people affected by HIV with a focus on vulnerable children and orphans. Riccardo is a graphic designer. They have been very fortunate to have lived and worked in Southern Africa, India, London and now have settled in Northern Ireland. Their life is completed by a variety of dogs who too are their travel companions. Here is their fostering story.
“From the very early stages of our relationship we always talked about having children but given how we continually moved and the pressures of our jobs we felt it would be unfair on a child or children not to give them all our focus and stability. When we moved to Northern Ireland, we knew this was going to be our home and where we would put down some firm roots. Given our ages we felt fostering would be the best avenue to go down rather than adoption.
All of our friends and family have always known about our wish to have children and always told us what great parents we would make. And from time to time, they gave us the responsibility of looking after their children. When we told them that we had made the decision to foster, they were all very supportive. A number of our friends were our referees and only from reading, what they wrote did we find out how they have considered us to care for their children should something happen to them.
We did some research and spoke to a few people who were or had fostered. From searching on line we found FCA and everything about what we saw and read just seemed right, so we made the call.
We passed panel at the end of September 2018 and on the 9th October 2018, we had our first young person come to live with us. Our amazing little boy who came to us as a short-term placement now has a full care order so he can now stay until he is 18.
Right from the very start, it has felt like we've had this big warm blanket around us. There is always someone to answer all our questions and queries and you’re always made to feel you’re part of one big family. We’ve never felt judged or what we had to say as unimportant and the support is there 24/7. The online training we’ve done and will continue to do is very informative and supports what we do in our daily lives. We also have our individual supervising social worker who supports us on day-to-day stuff and we also have support from the team parenting group which is a team of people from FCA and other agencies. We feel totally supported.
Fostering has its challenges you have to invest your time into everything you do, the training, the meetings, the travelling, the unexpected and most importantly your young person. Also be prepared to experience feelings and emotions from your young person and yourself that you didn’t know they/you had.
If we were to sum up our experience of fostering as a whole it’s a bit like going to the funfair. There are things that you really enjoy, things which are really scary but you know people are there to keep you safe and at the end of the day you’ve had a great time and you’ll continue to keep going back for more.
There have been many fostering moments which are hard to describe but the first unannounced hug and being told ‘I love you’ really took our breath away.
Fostering is a massive step to take, but the experience of the initial induction and the in depth assessment you go through will allow you to look at yourself and to know whether you can do it. Helping guide a young life is very special and we feel very privileged that our young person is allowing us to help them along their path.
Our advice to new foster parents is stick with it and believe in yourself! In the first few weeks, we went from feeling elated, distraught, overwhelmed and not sure we had done the right thing. However, when we started to talk to other people and seek support we realised we were doing OK. Sixteen months on and we’re still here and so glad we did it”.
“It is the most rewarding thing you can do in your lifetime so if you want to do it, go for it”
October 21 2021
Retiring foster parent, Anne Meakin, shares her experience of two decades worth of fostering.
"It’s special to be able to make such a difference to people’s lives, we love what we do."
September 27 2021
FCA’s Time to Shine winner, Melanie Plant, 44 , based in Shropshire, shares how specialising in parent and child placement fostering has changed her life.
June 22 2021
Meet Trevor and his wife Tracey who were approved as foster parents in 2015 and since then they have gone on to foster eight young children in six years.
Meet Lynne - one of FCA’s longest fostering parents
April 19 2021
Single foster parent, Lynne shares her fostering experience over the past two decades.
Luke and Danny's story
March 3 2021
Danny and Luke were approved as foster parents in 2018 and since then they have gone on to foster eight young children in just two years.