Belonging to a family
Emma spoke about the joy she gets from sharing her family with a child who may not be able to be with their own; children in foster care need a loving home for all sorts of reasons, including unwell parents, neglect and abuse or family breakdown.
She explained how the families of foster parents, such as their siblings and parents become ‘foster uncles and aunties’ or ‘foster grandparents’.
“We try and make family life as normal as possible for them,” Emma said. “There are a lot of things you just can’t make normal for foster children, so showing them an extended family and the great things that come with family feels so important.”
Ufuk, who is Turkish, explained that all of his and Emma’s children refer to him as ‘Baba’ which means father in Turkish.
He said: “The children in our care also end up calling me ‘Baba’, like my kids do. The title might not mean anything to them but it does give them a sense of belonging. It also gives me a huge sense of pride when they feel comfortable enough to call me that.”
‘You have been given the honour of looking after a gift’
Emma, while reminiscing about welcoming her current young person in December 2021, likened fostering to receiving a gift. She said: “You’re giving a young person a chance to do what they’re supposed to do and be who they’re supposed to be.
“They’re a gift and you’ve been given the honour of looking after a gift. It doesn’t always feel like that every day but you have. These children deserve a home and they deserve a safe space.”
Support for foster parents
Ufuk spoke about his time working with ISP, saying: “We’ve felt 11o% supported. We couldn’t have done what we’ve done without the support we’ve received.
“The foster carer training we receive is so valuable because it refines who we are and helps us get to the next level in terms of the support we can offer.”
Agreeing with the sentiment, Emma explained that she has felt looked after and understood every step of the way, “Everyone here, and it doesn’t matter what work or job they do, they all know who we are and they all know the children.
“And that is a real blessing because we just didn’t get that level of understanding at previous foster agencies. Our concept of fostering has been transformed because of who we work with now.”