Becoming a foster carer inevitably involves substantial changes to the lives of the carers involved. But what of the impact of fostering on the carer’s own family, particularly the children who are expected to share their homes – and their toys – with strangers?
For Hannah Griffiths*, who has been fostering for the past 14 years at her home in Stockport, fostering has become very much a family affair. She started fostering in 2003, before her children were born. Now she has two daughters aged 7 and 10. I spoke with her to learn about her fostering journey and the impact it has had on her young birth children…
So far, Hannah’s family have provided a stable and caring home for over 10 children. Some have stayed longer than others but it’s apparent that they have all left their mark on this family. She tells me stories of the different children who have shared her home, and she is clearly very proud of her family’s commitment to helping these young people make positive developments in their lives.
Hannah explains that for most of the time her daughters have enjoyed the experience of fostering and have really enjoyed having other children in the house. In fact, in recent months the family has taken a short break from fostering and their eldest daughter has recently expressed a wish to get another placement as soon as possible. It seems she has caught their Mother’s passion for helping others!
She describes how capable the girls are in copying with the losses that fostering can bring and accredits this to their understanding that sometimes children must move – be it whether they are returning home, moving on to live independently or going to live with another foster family – but that their family helped when they needed it most. To this day, the girls enjoy it when the children who joined their family for a short time come to visit.
Hannah explains that living in a foster family has helped her daughters develop into caring, empathetic and resilient individuals who have a great sense of humour. She is regularly amazed by her eldest daughter’s ability to empathise with others and when in public she will regularly comment that someone might need help or isn’t quite happy. The fact that she is so quick to consider how another human being may be feeling and has capacity to empathise at such a young age is truly remarkable. Hannah goes on to explain that her youngest is quick witted and shows fantastic humour – always keeping the family laughing!
All any mother wants for her children is for them to be happy and healthy. In addition to being these things, Hannah has seen first-hand how being part of a foster family has developed her children’s skills for caring for others in an increasingly difficult world. She is confident that fostering is helping her daughters develop into strong, thoughtful and kind individuals.
*Pseudonym used for carer confidentiality.