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“Fostering is the most rewarding thing you will ever do"

Foster parents, Lorraine and Robert share their fostering experience over the past decade, including their experience of keeping siblings together in foster care.

June 18 2021 - 5 min read

Foster parents, Lorraine and Robert share their fostering experience over the past decade.

From early on in life, Lorraine knew fostering was in her genes. Growing up in a family-oriented household, Lorraine was inspired by the kindness of her two parents, who became foster parents not long after Lorraine left home.

After moving out and marrying Robert, Lorraine said, “It was clear my mum really missed a busy house. I only lived around the corner but once I had my son and daughter, mum was round every day helping as I still worked part-time. When Robert and I decided I would stay at home and be a full-time mum, I think it was then my mum decided she still had so much love to give to children and started fostering.”

“As my mum’s friends were also at the grandparent’s stage, she found it a bit more difficult to find babysitters. When you’re younger it's normally not an issue but my mum found taking a child to her retired friend’s house challenging and that's when I decided to go through the training process. As I had my own kids, I thought another couple of kids coming to play was lovely for them all”.

Following the footsteps of her parents, Lorraine said, “Since then, Robert and I helped mum and dad out so they could have that break and see their friends. We had the children for sleepovers, then we did respite fostering, it was so natural, and we just loved it so much that we went all in”.

Fostering with her partner, Robert, for over 10 years now, Lorraine said, “It really doesn’t feel like I have been fostering for a decade, it just feels like I have always been fostering. I really can’t imagine my life without children in the house, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

“This is a very open house and before the pandemic, the door was always open with friends and family always in and out. I have two grown-up children who are 22 and 24 and I think they’ll always stay here. It is a busy house, but I hope it is like this for another 10 years.”

Reflecting on how fostering has impacted their lives, Lorraine said: “I think it makes us all appreciate what we have and makes you think about yourself a lot more. With my own birth children, I think even the little things make them appreciate Robert and me a lot more.”

As a former Nursery Nurse and Nanny, Lorraine has lots of experience working with children and young people, she said: “I always knew children would be in my future whether that was having my own or working with them. I worked for a Policewoman as her nanny for a few years and I am still in contact with them all. The boy moved to Australia, but I stay in touch via Facebook, and I get to see her and her daughter often as they live close by and I even get to see their grandchildren often for coffee and catchups. After all of that, I then moved on to have my own children with my partner.”

A good support network has helped them over the years, Lorraine explains: “We are very lucky as we have a fantastic support network. I have a family who just truly accepts every child who comes into our home and treats them like family. My mum and dad have always been such a massive part of our lives, even more now during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Sharing one of the most challenging parts of fostering, Lorraine said: “I think the most challenging part was when we had a little boy who moved on into residential care, which broke my heart at the time. But with the support from Fosterplus, I realised that for some children, a normal family isn’t enough and that he needed more professional help to get him to a place of where he needed to be.”

“He was with us as a family for nearly six years before he moved on and he was such a big part of our family, so it definitely has been one of the hardest things we as a family have experienced.

“I was a part of the process to help him move on, but Fosterplus offered fantastic support during this time and helped provide us and the boy with the support we needed.”

When asked about the most rewarding part of fostering, Lorraine said: “There are tons. This has to be the most rewarding job, if you want to call it that, but there are rewards every day.”

During the last 10 years, Lorraine has particularly enjoyed the experience of fostering siblings. She said: “I’ve had two experiences with fostering siblings. My first experience was with two boys, who fought a lot. If their fighting continued they would have had no relationship whatsoever.

Acknowledging the impact their behaviour was having on each other, it was assessed that they need to be placed separately, in order for their individual needs to be met. They did get to see each other often and it actually built up their relationship again and eventually, they came back together but they needed that initial separation.

“The two girls we have now settled in really well and enjoy having each other. They do stick up for each other, so you have to try and find ways to give them both the exact same time and attention.

“The older sibling found it hard when they came to our home because she had technically been a mother figure for her younger sister for a few years, but they both have come to terms of accepting me as their mother figure.”

While many have considered the pandemic to be one of their biggest challenges, Lorraine has found the opposite, she explains: “I personally think I have found fostering easier during the pandemic. Although the girls have missed out on so much, so we do what we can.

“We often read a book and to begin with, neither girls had read a book before they came here and now, I can’t get the book out of their hands, so that is a fantastic achievement.”

Lorraine’s advice to anyone who may be thinking about becoming a foster parent would be to “treat everything with love. Even when they are angry, rather than shouting, as that’s what they have had in the past, treat your reaction with love.

“Definitely consider fostering, even if you just think it might be something you want to do. Attend the information evenings, speak to other foster carers because I can guarantee you, it will totally change your life.

“Fostering is not a job, it is a life-changing experience, but it is the most rewarding thing you will ever do. I absolutely love it and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

“There are not enough foster carers out there for the number of children who need somebody to help make their lives better.”

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