You don’t need to be a father to be an amazing dad!
Fostering is such a vital role – supporting our communities’ most vulnerable children, helping them to heal from any trauma they may have experienced; and ultimately supporting them while they recover and thrive. Foster families come in all shapes and sizes but many individuals and couples rule themselves out because they don’t have any children of their own – incorrectly believing that they may not be able to foster as they are not already parents. This is the story of one amazing single, East Anglian Foster Parent who is proud to be called ‘dad’.
“I first heard about By the Bridge on a Radio advert as I pulled onto my driveway when returning home from work. My sister and brother-in-law foster with another agency so I have seen first-hand how rewarding fostering can be. The impact that you can have on the lives of the children who you care for is incredible and I felt it was something that I could do too. My work as a Bar and Restaurant Manager had always stopped me from enquiring about becoming a Foster Parent but during the pandemic and lockdown, I finally had the time to look into the application process. As I parked my car on my drive, I thought to myself ‘Just go for it’ and text the number on the advert. I received a call back from one of By the Bridge’s experts, who answered all of my questions and assisted me with starting my application to become a Foster Parent. Now I look back on that moment, it definitely was the right advert at the right time and I am so glad that I went for it, took the leap, and sent that text message.
I am extremely fortunate that the young boy that I care for is an absolute gem and a lovely boy, which has made being a single Foster Parent a lot easier - but it isn’t easy and some days can be challenging. However, the pros far outweigh the cons, one hundred percent. R was placed with my sister and brother-in-law previously with his two brothers and lived with them for two years, meaning he came to know me quite well when I would visit. Unfortunately, the placement broke down due to sibling rivalry between the boys and the Local Authority placed them separately elsewhere, which was upsetting for us all, as we had grown to love the boys as part of our family. Our grandmother assured us that the children would find their way back to one another, so when I become an approved Foster Parent with By the Bridge and I got R’s referral, everything fell into place. I felt it was fate and R was the perfect fit! As R already felt comfortable in my company it made the transition so much easier and it’s all worked out perfectly. R is so polite and I constantly have people stop me and tell me how lovely and well-mannered he is, which is a wonderful characteristic to have throughout life. It is so great and rewarding to see him flourish each and every day and I am extremely proud of him!
In my first 2 years as a By the Bridge Foster Parent, I have enjoyed all of my training, particularly the 4 days of Therapeutic Thinking training, and am already booked to do the Level 2 Therapeutic Foundation 8-day course. The training provided really makes you think - looking behind the reason that a child may behave in a certain way is really what stuck in my mind. After experiencing trauma, it could be something as simple as a smell that the child recognises or something they have seen on TV that may upset them, so it’s vital that as a Therapeutic Foster Parent, you always look behind the child’s behaviour, look for the reason and let them know you are there. The therapeutic training is extremely useful when parenting – I always have in my mind if I was in R’s shoes, how would I feel. I have really taken to the therapeutic approach and it has really helped me to support R and that’s been a building block in our relationship.
Seeing the change that I have made to R is my favourite part of being a Foster Parent. When he first came to live with me, R hid in cupboards and wardrobes and had very little confidence at all. Now he has flourished and everyone says that he is a ‘mini me’, full of confidence and lighting up every room he goes into. Beforehand, he couldn’t manage any contact with his family without finding it very upsetting and crying once we got back home, now there is always a hug at the end with his mum and brothers. R has found his sense of belonging and where he is happy. I am a true believer that being yourself and showing your true self is key to a healthy and happy relationship. R and I have, and continue, to learn from each other each and every day.
For me, the hardest part of fostering is if and when things go wrong, as sometimes they do. Sometimes placements do break down so you have to be prepared for that as well as being prepared for the unknown. Being a Foster Parent, you do find yourself becoming very attached to the children that you care for, so if placements break down that can be very hard to deal with. Everyone tries their best but sometimes things just don’t work out.
I was approved in June 2021 for one child and have recently been re-approved for a second child which is really exciting. R and I are so looking forward to having another child join our family. As R does have siblings, he is very much looking forward to taking a child under his wing and having someone to play with. He has already said that if they don’t have any toys they can share his, which just goes to show what a kind, thoughtful and wonderful boy he is. Since I have been approved to foster a second child, I have had open and honest conversations with R and have told him that when we receive information about potential children, we will sit down together and decide if they are the right fit for both of us as it is very important to make sure that R is comfortable with any new family dynamic.
Fostering isn’t a job it’s a lifestyle, you do what you would do for your own child. Sometimes children can be challenging but the key is to be honest, communicate, and explain that you may be struggling. They appreciate your honesty as much as you do theirs. I was one of those people who thought I couldn’t foster because of my lifestyle and busy working life but it is the most rewarding thing that I have ever done. Be prepared to take each day as it comes because you never know what’s around the corner. Every Foster Parent’s story is different but trust me when I say, there is nothing more rewarding than supporting a child to thrive and explore their hopes and dreams for the future – go for it, you won’t regret it!”
To find out more about becoming a Foster Parent contact us today!
Read more of our Foster Parents' stories HERE