During 2008, Hugh’s wife at the time suggested considering fostering. Although Hugh was unsure about how much this could impact their lives, he knew he would be able to support her with the journey into fostering.
Hugh reminisces; “I’m delighted that we decided to foster at that time and the whole experience that I’ve had so far has been brilliant. I am grateful that my wife at the time nudged me in the right direction.”
The couple began with respite care for the first two years, in order to give themselves a good chance to experience what life would be like as foster parents. Over the years, Hugh believes he has developed a “strong understanding of children’s needs.”
In 2011, Hugh decided to take a leap of faith and leave his job, in order to become a full-time foster parent. Shortly after this, Hugh and his partner separated, which left Hugh wondering if he would be able to continue with his fostering journey. However, because fostering came so naturally to him, he reminded himself; “I can do this.”
Hugh explains; “Luckily, Fosterplus were on hand to support me with the initial process of becoming a single foster parent and it really didn’t take long until I was a fully-fledged single foster parent!”
Hugh believes that although being a single foster parent can be challenging, it is also rewarding: “Being a single foster parent can be quite different, but at the same time, you can have your own input, your own goals and mark your own achievements. Becoming a single foster parent was a life-changing experience for me.
The support from Hugh’s friends and family encouraged him, as he explains; “Initially I thought that people were going to think that I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own. But actually, people were extremely supportive and commended me for my efforts throughout. I only ever received praise and encouragement from people, but I was glad that I took it on despite knowing that I could have faced stigma.”
Hugh has been caring for his son, Joseph* for over 10 years. He arrived as a 7-year-old young boy, who has now blossomed into a 17-year-old, studying A-Levels at college.
Reflecting on the last 10 years, Hugh explains; “It’s been an absolute dream to have cared for Joseph* through the years and I’m honoured that he chose to stay with me for this long - It’s really encouraging to know that I’m doing something right.”
“I think it comes down to the fact that we’re the perfect match. From day one, it’s just been me and him, and I feel great for stepping up to the challenge of becoming a single foster parent and taking him under my wing.”
Hugh recalls when he was separating from his partner and Joseph feared that he may have to move on, but thankfully, with Hugh stepping forward to become his primary carer, their dreams soon became a reality, as Hugh reveals.
“I remember vividly seeing the grin on his face when I delivered the good news that he didn’t have to go and life for us could resume as normal. We stayed in the same house, he was able to stay at the same school and keep the same circle of friends. Quite often we recall this moment and talk about it together. For me, that day was a defining moment.”
During the pandemic, Hugh was slightly apprehensive about the news of school closures, as attending school and socialising was a huge part of Joseph’s life.
“I thought how are we going to manage? But actually, he exceeded my expectations. He was very thoughtful about his actions and was supportive in his approach to make sure he did the right thing, and he’s still doing this now.
“It’s a great achievement on his part to show restraint, but he’s absolutely bought into the idea that we need to do the right thing.”
Speaking about the challenges that fostering can present, Hugh added; “There hasn’t been any memorable challenges that we couldn’t overcome with the support of social workers, friends and family. For me, on a personal side, the biggest challenge aside from the last 12 months was wondering how I would maintain some kind of social life.
“Respite care and family members have been extremely useful for me, ensuring I can still socialise. But because I have a huge family, who are extremely supportive, it hasn’t really become a challenge.”
When I first became a single foster parent I was constantly thinking “how I will maintain going to work while being a full-time foster parent,” but thankfully my manager also came through the care system, so he wholeheartedly understood the process and allowed me any time off that I needed.
“The whole process is one big reward, it’s the best thing I’ve done in the last 10 years. Aside from having three children of my own, it’s the best move I have made to become a single foster parent.”
“Joseph is a significant part of the family. If and when he reaches an age that he’s going to go to university or decides to make his own way in life, my door is always open and he’s always welcome here.”
Speaking about the fostering assessment process with Fosterplus, Hugh said: “Fosterplus were very efficient, the process was very quick but thorough and the support has been brilliant from day one. They’re always on hand when I need them.”
Hugh’s advice to anyone considering fostering would be to; “Give it a go! Speak to people about it, get as much advice as you can and if and when you do decide to take the step, don’t be too hard on yourself.”
If you would like to learn more about fostering today, why not each in touch on 0800 369 8512. One of our team members would love to tell you about the process, our support package and generous foster career pay allowances to help you decide if it's right for you. Not ready to chat yet? No problem, why not read about how to become a foster parent.
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