"We have gained so much through fostering, it’s amazing”
Lucy and Daniel have been fostering alongside raising their own little boy and have loved every minute. Read their journey so far.
Lucy and her partner, Daniel, have been fostering since September 2021 and they are sharing their story, including welcoming their first foster child into the family home.
There were a few factors that contributed to Lucy and Daniel’s interest in foster care. Formerly a cabin crew member and having previously grown up in the pub and bar trade, Lucy enjoyed a variety of career avenues before having her firstborn son. After giving birth, she wanted to find something more permanent and fulfilling, she said: “Being part of an airline cabin crew and then having your own child before going on to foster was a lot of change for me, they’re all completely different. But I think the one thing that's similar with everything I have been involved in is that they're all people-focused.”
She continued: “In all of the trades I’ve been involved in, you’re looking to help those people and help them achieve what it is that they want - whether that's a nice meal or getting to their destination safely. With fostering, you're bringing these children into your home, and you're helping them get to where they need to be in life and enabling them to become the people that they want to become. All you're doing is providing that environment for them to do it safely”
Lucy’s son was 5 years old when they made the decision to foster, as Lucy explained: ”My son's six at the end of the year and he absolutely loves fostering. He's one of those children who will talk to anybody and just enjoys other people's company. So when we get the new children in, he interacts really well with them.
“When we initially looked into fostering, obviously we were aware of how it would impact our home life and our son, so that was the biggest thing for us and it's what we wanted to learn more about. But since becoming a foster family, we’ve found that the benefits massively outweighed any fears that we had - not just because of the extra siblings he gets and the general interaction in the home, but the wider picture, including all of the family days and the celebratory events that ISP do down at the centre that our son gets to join in with as well. It’s great.”
Lucy believes that in the short time fostering so far, there has already been a beneficial impact on their young birth son: “The positive changes that we've seen with our son so far are amazing. I would say that he has become more understanding and more patient. Before with his friends at school, he would just run in and wouldn't consider their feelings as much - as any five-year-old would. Now, he's got a lot more compassion and understanding for other people. He even considers the ‘naughty children’ at school now and why they might behave in that way rather than just believing they are bad kids.”
When reflecting upon the initial process of becoming foster parents with ISP, Lucy said: “The fostering assessment is a lot at the beginning. It's one of those that is very front-heavy, you get lots to do to start with and then it sort of trails out. But it's one of these things that often sounds worse than it is. If you consider the actual practicalities of it and doing it, it was enjoyable because you get to talk about yourself and your family, and a lot of it is all in a positive way - it’s a reflective experience in a really good way.”
She continued: “The support we received through that initial application process from ISP was amazing. You have your assessing social worker who normally would come out to visit you, but we had to do it virtually because of COVID at the time.
“You have lots of different sessions - which involve copious amounts of tea and coffee drinking - where you talk through your background, your history and all about your upbringing, and how you can bring that to the table with your skills. You've also got your manager and any sort of questions that you have, everyone's always more than happy to help and answer them. ”
When Lucy and Daniel welcomed their first foster child into their home last September, it was an all-encompassing experience for the couple, which they explained: “Welcoming the first child was a little bit of everything for us - it was scary and daunting, but also it was so exciting as well. That's when reality sets in and you think, ‘Oh my God, this is actually happening, they're on their way’. But I think the excitement of getting to meet them kind of overrides the other anxieties that you get.”
Lucy adds: “I think for my little boy, it was probably a bit like Christmas for him, because he knew they were coming but had to wait until the morning to be able to say hello. As soon as he woke up, he was like, ‘is he here? Is he here? Can I go and say hi?’ It's lovely, really.”
However, fostering doesn’t come without its challenges, as Lucy explained: “There are challenges, but for us, those challenges prove to be some of the overall rewarding parts of fostering. Sometimes the challenging behaviours these children have can be hard, but it's one of those things where it sounds worse than it is. Of course, it can be frustrating at times because it may be something you might not have experienced yourself, so you can empathise with it, but not necessarily understand it yourself. We work through it together and it’s the most rewarding thing to see the child transform and get better at controlling these behaviours!”
She continued: “What’s great is that within ISP, there is a fantastic support network. Honestly, I cannot stress that enough. We've got our supervising social worker who is amazing. She's always there when we need her. If you can't get through to them, there's also another fostering advisor, who is someone who's fostered themselves for a long time. So they come with a huge amount of knowledge because they've been there, done that, got the T-shirt. So for advice, they are amazing. You've also got your managers and the child’s therapist, who primarily is there for the children but can also be there for us as well to help us understand what these children are going through. There’s also a reflective practice group which us carers do together where we'll discuss the sort of things that could be bothering us or that we don't understand.”
“It's like being part of a big family because even those carers that you don't know - they will always be there for you as well. Even if it's just something that you're struggling with yourself or things with the children, absolutely anything, everyone's there. At no point do you ever feel alone, because there's always someone on hand, whether it’s one of the professionals with the social workers, fostering advisors or anyone else at ISP.”
Lucy and Daniel have found fostering to be extremely rewarding over the last year. Lucy said: “Fostering really is so rewarding. It's something that I think is really hard to put into words because it's more things that you see and feel when you start getting that relationship with the child - it's just amazing. When you start seeing them blossom and become who they are rather than this scared little thing when they first arrive, it's just so wonderful.
“When our first child came to us, we saw such a difference in him as time went on. When he first came to us, it was almost like he was in mourning because all his clothes were black and his hair was over his face covering it and things like that. But then as he progressed through with us, he really started to find who he was, and began wearing coloured clothes or lighter clothes and then his hair became short and he was showing his face - just to see that was amazing and so rewarding for us as a family to see him find his true self”.
Lucy has one piece of advice to those who are considering fostering vulnerable children: “Keep your mind open and be willing to hear their stories and all these different angles of how things can be perceived by children because it was a real eye opener for me but in a good way. It's one of those jobs that until you do it, you really can't explain it. It’s so enjoyable having these children in your home and getting to know them and seeing how your life can change, but for the better.”
“It's just provided so much more for us than we thought it would and it’s such a wonderful thing to do. You make all these friends along the way that treat you like family. It becomes the new normal and just fits into the daily routine and family routine, so nothing's really changed, but we've gained a lot.”
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