27 years and counting
11 March 2023
11 March 2023
Tell me a bit about yourself and when you began fostering?
I started fostering back in 1996 and initially fostered with my local authority. I then moved over the Nexus Fostering in 2005. I was previously a registered childminder while bringing up my three children, two boys and one daughter. They were around 12 and 15 when I started fostering, and it felt like the right time to make the change. I had a friend who suggested fostering, which sparked my interest, and that is how it all started back in 1996. I liked the idea of still looking after children but providing continual support and having them stay longer than you would when childminding. I ensured the fostering would work well for all of us as a family. Making sure I found out what would work best for us all and what we could offer to a foster child. I have been fostering for 27 years and have enjoyed the experiences and things I have learnt.
How did your own children find it when you started fostering?
At first, it was a little tricky to set boundaries with my children against the boundaries you can set for foster children. For example, I would give my children gifts for Christmas and the occasional pocket money, but I would also give my foster children the same. However, the foster children would sometimes receive gifts from their biological families, so my children needed to understand why our foster children would sometimes get extra gifts. This gave my children a chance to reflect and be grateful for their life with me and the home they were brought up in. In addition, it allowed my children to show compassion and empathy from a young age, and they would help the children feel settled into a safe home environment.
Are you still in touch with your foster children?
I am still in touch with some of them, which I love, one of them is now 42 years old, and she is so sweet, and I am glad we can still have a relationship. I fostered her back at the beginning of the 90’s. I have fostered many children, including teenagers, sibling groups and younger children. The social workers will match the child to be the best person possible for them, and I had one foster child for nearly a decade.
What is a key thing to know when you are fostering?
Staying impartial to some situations and not being judgemental. Be open-minded and a good listener. You cannot frown upon or criticise some things; otherwise, you may be inflicting the opinions your foster child has. The children have to make decisions themselves, and you are there to help guide the child towards the best possible outcome. This helps to have a positive impact on the people involved and benefits the child.
the foster children can decide who I was referred as. Whether that be an aunt, a distant relative, or someone taking care of them, it is their choice so they are as comfortable as possible
I would often have a good relationship with the biological parent, so I would talk to them if I needed to if I felt they could help in certain situations. Maintaining good relationships where possible is good for everyone involved.
What is your biggest memory of your fostering journey?
I ended up fostering a sibling group of four. This started with the two older siblings, which then ended up with the younger two joining us. That was an experience I wouldn’t forget. I had them for 18 months until they ended up being placed in their adoptive family. I am still in touch with them after the adoption, which I feel is very positive as it helps the children to know what happened to them when they were in foster care and that they were taken good care of and loved. When we foster, we create memory boxes for the children and fill this up with positive memories, and this helps the children to build on their self-esteem and helps with their confidence which is so important.
11 March 2023
Christine shares why she wanted to become a foster carer, what advice she would give to someone thinking about fostering, and how her family have been an important support network for her.