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"Thinking about fostering? Our advice: just do it!"

We caught up with foster parent Angie who has been fostering with us since 2015 along with husband Paul. She shared with us their fostering story…

October 16 2023 - 4 min read

Meet foster parents Angie and Paul who have been fostering with FCA North West since 2015.

Angie and Paul have been married for 20 years, together they have three grown up children from previous relationships and their family also includes their two beloved dogs. We caught up with Angie as she shared with us their fostering story…

“You could say we are a bit of a blended family. We explored the possibility of expanding our family through adoption; however, my daughter expressed reservations about pursuing that option.

As years passed by and our daughter got older, we engaged in a conversation asking her about her thoughts on foster care and to our delight, she wholeheartedly embraced the idea. At the time Paul worked as a support worker and I worked part time in a residential home and part time as a manager for a care company.

Coincidentally, while we were out shopping, we bumped into our friend who fostered with FCA she shared an FCA business card and encouraged us to reach out and explore the possibility. Intrigued, I made the initial phone call, which led to a home visit by a professional who provided valuable insights into fostering with FCA. After discussions with our families and also friends who were already foster parents, Paul and I decided to embark on our fostering journey.

In 2015, we were approved as foster parents with FCA North West and two days later two girls aged ten and eight were placed with us.  Although they weren’t with us for long they had settled in really well.  Sadly they were moved by the local authority to be placed nearer to their home town.   It was the most heart breaking experience for us, we were absolutely devastated.  We maintained some phone contact for a while after.  The girls are now young adults and recently we reconnected via the power of social media so it has been really nice to reminisce, catch up and hear how they have been getting on.

I don't think anyone prepares you for your first child, no matter how much training you have done.  You think you're ready but that first night we didn't sleep, we lay in bed with these two children in our house thinking have we got everything we need? What happens if they wake up or cry? Even though we're parents, it was just the most nerve wracking thing that we've ever done.

Whilst we are familiar with having children in our household, we ensured we had suitable toiletries that were child-friendly. This included items such as child-friendly shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and bath products. Although we didn't eat bread and biscuits ourselves, we recognised them as essential food items for children. Furthermore, we created neutral bedrooms for the children, allowing them to have a say in choosing their own belongings and making the space their own.

We now have three children with us. Initially, we began with two children who arrived as an emergency one Friday evening. The youngest was just two years old at that time and came with only one spare nappy. I didn't have any nappies, so while he was playing with toys, there was a hurried rush for Paul to go and fetch nappies and wipes. The oldest child was seven years old and likewise didn't come with any spare clothes. This led to a flurry of activity to rectify and ensure the children had what they needed.

Their mum was pregnant at the time, and we were approached with the question of whether we would be willing to take their younger sister. It was an easy decision for us, and their sister joined our family when she was 18 months old.  All three children who are now 11, 6 and 3 ½ have been granted permanence so will stay with us till they are 18 years old, which is the best outcome for them and us and we can continue to support their complex and additional needs.

The support from FCA is just unreal, I can just call my supervising social worker whenever I need advice or help, and she's always available. They also organise summer activities for all the family which we go to whenever we can. I also attend support groups where I see foster parents I've known for a while, we catch up and also meet up outside the groups as well. One challenge we do face is getting other agencies to actively help and support our children's needs.

When reflecting on our time as foster parents, it's quite a challenge to select specific fostering highlights among the abundance of memorable experiences. How can you possibly choose just one? I found it particularly heart-warming when we attended the permanence panel and heard about our journey in retrospect. We don't often get the chance to step back and comprehend our own experiences while we're living through them. In the moment, we simply navigate the journey and do what's best for both ourselves and the children.

Looking back, if I were to give advice to anyone starting their journey as foster parents, I would say that it's important to seriously consider the matching process.  We struggled because we didn't understand why some foster parents specified preferred age groups for children. We used to think we wouldn't refuse any referral. But now, I don't feel the same way. It's necessary to think about the matching process and discover what works for you and your family.

Our advice to anyone thinking of fostering is 100% do it. Make sure you choose the right agency, do your research first and have the support from your family”.

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