Our journey, like so many other foster carers, is unique and original to the person or couple. The process of a foster carer can be to some quite therapeutic, talking as a couple, reflecting on your past, present and future plans, is actually quite nice to have that space where it’s about you. The only part of the process we found a challenge, was the description of our rescue dog (yes we were over protective), however the profile came across a bit scary to a potential reader we thought – the Social Worker writing our first report admitted they were scared of dogs and by our dog barking and greeting them had reflected in them being scared and being described in the report as this – I guess what this showed us, was no matter what we have a voice, we have opinions and we can challenge appropriately, and yes, the report was changed to reflect this, and Sydney Sausage the African Bitser was described as a playful happy dog!
8 years later when working with many professionals and children, yes we still are challenged however we always have opinions and a voice and I’m pleased to say we have the constant training, skilled supervision support and working with others to enable us to use these skills to our best capability as foster carers.
As a same sex couple yes we have experienced, and the reality is we will continue to face and deal with homophobia. This can be from professionals however more from the birth family or children who come into our care. The majority of this is coming from the unknown, the scared and the previously been taught language and statements, that when a young person says it to you, is mimicking what they have heard in their past. We both take our role as a privilege, where we can educate, advocate and empower and inform a young person to have truthful factual information to make their own choices and views. We have found that no matter what the age these resilient children that have come into our care are amazing debaters and sponges to learn about life. They have previously been faced discrimination and will sometimes face this again being in the care system.
The amazing conversations we have had in Pizza Express or Nando’s when we least expect it, a question will be thrown at you to answer immediately and the smile it gives you that a young person is now asking these questions, challenging past conceptions and views and growing in self-esteem and confidence.
Foster carers when you see the adverts you usually see happy smiling faces of the joy it brings. The reality is yes we smile a lot (sometimes through gritted teeth), laugh a lot together (sometimes with a few tears) and most importantly have lots of love and fun has a family.
This is a very challenging profession which through constant good training and skilled supervising social workers enables you to help a young person through their life journey, and for you to be part of a team that can bring change to so many – is it rewarding yes but most importantly you can assist and bring change to a young person’s life.