I started fostering in July 2011. It is a tricky one really when people ask why I decided to become a foster parent. I didn’t really; I was just drawn to it. I had just left a job in London and was moving back to the North West. I was on the train and saw this advertisement about fostering, it was for By the Bridge and it just gripped me. It was completely different to what I was doing at the time, I was an IT Manager, and I felt drawn to find out more.
I think my management skills have been the biggest transferable skill for fostering. When you are a manager you can’t be reactive, you have to take responsibility for yours and other actions, be available, present and prepared for all eventualities. It is also important to be person-centred. You have to work with people at different levels of an organisation. To get the best out of people you can’t tell them what to do, you have to help them to achieve it, to grow, and develop.
The most rewarding bit about fostering is seeing a child become the best they can be and flourish as individuals with confidence, this goes so much further than seeing them doing well or getting good grades. We have helped our foster children to believe in themselves, we have been their role models and we have encouraged them to go onto achieve big things, such as university. We believe passionately we can change a child’s life.
When a foster child comes to us they are mostly lost, acting out, because they don’t know better. They need a sense of belonging and the opportunity to believe in themselves. They also need us to continue learning and adapting what we do to support them.
I was fascinated with the behaviours children brought in to my home and completed my Certificate in Therapeutic Fostering taught by Mica. She is wonderful and supportive. At the beginning of the course she said to me: “I am going to help you become the best you can be.” It enabled me to see past that and help them move forward. You can achieve this by looking at the behaviour with curiosity, they’re giving your something of themselves, they don’t realise it, but they are.
The training I have done has made me reflective of how I interact with our foster children. When you’re being therapeutic you are trying to be the best you can for the child, being reflective and being present. I have done my MA in Therapeutic Fostering, but I still find it hard to explain what therapeutic means, because it means so much on many levels. To summarise I would say it is about helping to heal emotional hurt, caring, being present emotionally, being physically available and supportive. No two children are the same, their behaviour is different, but they heal in the same way and that healing takes place in the relationship you have with them. It is very powerful.
I feel blessed to have the children in my life.