Maxine came from a business background. Her husband, Rafi is a chef and they worked together in the restaurant trade. Prior to that, Maxine worked in Human Resources.
They have four birth children. Fifteen years ago, when the youngest of their boys started school, Maxine was contemplating a return to the workplace after a break from her career to bring up the children. An ad for fostering caught her eye. She liked the idea of being able to care for children who needed support and combine this with family life.
They applied to foster with an independent fostering agency – The National Fostering Agency, part of National Fostering Group. Maxine and Rafi both did the Skills to Foster training and the whole family was involved in discussions about becoming foster carers and what this might entail.
Their first foster child was a 15-year-old Asian boy who had been living in a residential home for the previous six years. Maxine said:
“He was very quiet and withdrawn but our boys helped him to come out of his shell a little. He was with us until he turned 18. The boys used to take him to the cinema and go swimming together. He fitted in with the family really well and he came on holidays abroad with us, it was lovely.”
Maxine and Rafi’s current foster child has been with the family for 10 years, since he was six. When he first came his behaviour was very violent and they had to learn safe methods of restraint.
“99% of the time he is great and only 1% he is F-ing and blinding. He has won so many awards at school and has been named as the top performing student in the whole school. Instead of being the child who has to sit outside the class for being disruptive, he is the one they all look up to.”
“It’s important not to take things personally. It’s not that he hates us it’s just that he has no ‘off’ button sometimes, because of all the trauma he’s been through – the trauma we know about and the trauma we don’t. There is lots of support from our fostering agency. We don’t have to do this on our own and, over the years, we’ve taken all the support we can get.”
To aspiring foster carers, Maxine says:
“It’s really rewarding to watch a child change over the time they are with you, it’s just the best thing. But you definitely need support, whether it’s from your fostering agency, friends or family. Fostering has broadened my mind and my experience. It has made us all better people. Even my 19-year old is thinking of going into a caring profession. Our foster child has learned honesty and how to be around people from being with our boys. If you’re thinking about it, pursue it. “
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