Billy and his wife are foster carers with Fostering Relations and they have a son, Callum. Emma, now 15, has lived with them all for 4 years. Billy gave us insight into his journey as a foster carer…
Why did you get into fostering?
We started considering fostering years ago after having difficulties conceiving. We had friends that fostered too. Then our oldest son, Callum, came along and our circumstances changed so put things on hold. When Callum was old enough, we re-visited fostering as we wanted to offer a child what we had – a stable loving family.
What do you wish you had known before you became foster carers?
Understanding challenging behaviors and how to deal with them was a learning curve for both myself and my wife, but especially for me. I found having patience and talking through things with Emma really worked as it helped us understand why she was behaving in a certain way. I wish we’d known to try this approach sooner!
What have been the highlights and lowlights of fostering so far?
The highlights have been seeing Emma’s face light up when we do things as a family such as swimming and going on holiday. Seeing how well she is progressing is so rewarding. A great example of this is how well she’s doing with her swimming classes – I can see how happy and proud she is of herself. We are so very proud of her too!
Lowlights would be understanding challenging behavior’s which was a learning curve for us at the start.
What advice would you give to a new foster carer?
We have treated Emma as a member of our family from the start which really helped with her transition and settlement. This would be my advice to a new foster carer, welcome the child to your home with open arms and treat them as your own.
Also, don’t underestimate the importance of your own children’s role in helping foster children settle. Having Emma has also been very rewarding for our son, Callum, as he always wanted a sibling. He was a rock in the whole settlement process when Emma came to stay – they both helped each other and are very close.
As a foster carer what is the support like from your social worker and agency?
You can pick up the phone anytime to receive guidance and advice. You also have visits every two weeks from your social worker, so lots of support is offered to both me and my wife and Emma. I was never keen on spending time with other foster carers, but this has proved very useful for training and support.
Why would you recommend Fostering Relations?
Fostering Relations are the only organization that we found offer such a high level of support and training. They also are very thorough with understanding children’s backgrounds and making recommendations based on this. We have friends that foster with other organizations so we know this isn’t the norm.
* Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.