"My one regret? That I didn’t make that call 10 years earlier!"
Originally a nurse, Elaine decided to retrain to be a foster parent. Since being approved, her only regret was that she didn't do it 10 years earlier!
Originally, I trained and worked as a nurse in London. I then married and moved out to the countryside to bring up our two daughters. I soon discovered that I enjoyed the company of my girls and their friends and, after positive feedback from parents, I was soon being asked to child-mind in the holidays or help out at the local school.
At this time, my sister was working in a Residential Home in Leicester and told me that an agency called Fosterplus were recruiting for foster carers. I couldn’t think of anything more exciting or rewarding than having another child to nurture and care for. It seemed too good to be true but making that initial phone call 16 years ago was a life-changing moment for me and my family that I have never regretted.
We were approved within a year and decided that giving commitment and stability to a young person in a long-term placement would work best for us as a family as the girls were then aged six and eight years old. Our first child stayed for 18 months whilst the Local Authority advertised for potential adopters and his “forever home” was found.
We were then entrusted with three young boys who lived with us throughout their childhoods, teen years. Now as adults, one still lives with me, and the older two work and live nearby with their own girlfriends. It was always an honour and a privilege to help these young men make enough sense of their past so that they could move on to believing that they deserved a future.
Having five teenagers in the house was great fun, extremely rewarding, and of course, challenging. Each child had emotional and social insecurities, educational and medical difficulties and personal issues which required different parenting and nurturing skills. There is an excellent training programme provided throughout the year by the Coventry fostering team, as well as regular support groups with other foster carers and fortnightly visits from my supervising social worker so I felt competent and confident in my abilities.
Now divorced, I am being assessed as a single carer so that I can continue to provide a nurturing and loving home to young children and/or teenagers. I have a network of support from my family, friends, and fellow foster carers. My Supervising Social Worker and the emergency 24/7 on-call team, as well as ongoing training sessions either in my own home, office-based, at conferences or via the internet that are specific to my needs. I am also training to be a Mentor to help support foster carers with the challenges we undertake.
My one regret? That I didn’t make that call 10 years earlier!