Lucy and Allan’s daughter was eight when the family embarked on its journey as foster carers. They had known for a while that fostering was something they wanted to do but up until that point the time wasn’t right. They felt it was important to wait until their daughter was old enough to understand what fostering meant and to participate fully in the discussions about it. They began the application process in 2018 with their local authority and were approved early in 2019.
Moving to a local fostering agency
Their first foster child – a 10-day old baby – arrived in May. The baby was with them for 13 months until his adoption in July 2020. Lucy said:
“It was hard to let him go, he’d become a big part of our family and had formed a close bond with us and our daughter. There were quite a few problems on the day of the transition and we didn’t feel we got the support we needed. It was this that made us decide to move to a local fostering agency.”
After a short break from fostering, the family, which lives close to Northampton, applied to Fostering Solutions in Oundle, part of National Fostering Group. Lucy explained:
“We knew we still wanted to foster. Fostering Solutions was a small local agency with a great family feel. They could offer us the support and training we needed so we applied and transferred to them in December 2020. Almost immediately we began caring for a brother and sister.”
A tough time
It was a tough time for the family. The foster children had some challenging behaviours and Lucy and Allan were driving around 1600 miles a month to take them to school, relying on childminders to take their birth child to school. Allan said:
“We just took one day at a time and we got through it. We didn’t sign up for an easy ride, there’s no such thing in fostering. Our supervising social worker was fantastic and very supportive. She kept in regular contact with us.”
After seven months, the children went to live with their maternal grandmother. The family is still in touch with them and can laugh about some of the difficult times they went through. The siblings are settled with their grandmother but are always pleased to see Lucy and Allan and their daughter.
After a brief period offering respite foster care, the family began caring for another group of siblings – four in total, ranging from two and a half to nine. It was a big step to go from one birth child to five children but Lucy and Allan were determined to keep the siblings together if they could. The children arrived very close to Christmas and despite the festive season being “absolutely manic” the family got through it.
Stronger as a person
At times it has been difficult for their daughter, but her mum and dad offer her reassurance whenever she needs it and are careful to allocate time with her alone. Allan said:
“The fostering agency is wowed by her. She’s been in some difficult situations with some challenging behaviours but she has coped so well and become stronger as a person. Although she’s only 10, she’s very mature. We’ve always pulled together as a family and made sure we communicate together and make time for each other. If she ever wanted us to stop fostering we would.”
Committed to fostering
Despite all of the challenges they’ve experienced, Lucy and Allan remain completely committed to fostering.
“There are so many great things about it – seeing the children grow in confidence and the new respect they have for themselves, watching them laughing wholeheartedly. They start to bond with us and our daughter. Sometimes they come and help out without being asked or come to us for a cuddle.”
Training and events
The family is delighted with the support offered by Fostering Solutions and the training they’ve received. Lucy is particularly inspired by the Therapeutic Parenting courses and Allan, who works full-time, appreciates being able to do online courses which fits in well alongside his work schedule. They have also enjoyed participating in many of the events and activities run by the agency.
“This year they are holding some activities just for birth children. That’s such a good idea as it allows the children to meet up and share their experiences with others who know exactly what they are talking about.”
Fostering family tree
Lucy and Allan have created a family tree for their birth child and foster children, showing photographs and the dates that the children came and left. Their current siblings enjoy seeing themselves on there.
“I admire foster carers so much. Even if you only help one child, you’ve done your bit. If there’s ever a point when we don’t want to continue fostering we’ll hold our heads up high knowing we’ve made a difference.”
Support whenever we need it
“We don’t put ourselves under pressure, we just take things one day at a time. If it wasn’t for Fostering Solutions and our supervising social worker I think we’d have struggled with a group of four siblings. They’ve been amazing and they support us whenever we need it.”