Dianne and her husband have opened their home to 7 sibling groups over the past 5 years.
26 September 2023
26 September 2023
Dianne and her husband David, from Nottingham, have fostered 13 children plus 4 children on respite placements, a total of 7 sibling groups over the past 5 years. One of their placements, now 3-year-old twins are with Dianne and David under a special guardianship order (SGO). Dianne & David have had an emotional journey to get to this point; after fostering the twins when they were just 1 year old, they went into adoption 2 years later. During this time Dianne & David had welcomed a new placement of 3 siblings, however after only 5 weeks, the adoption of the twins had fallen through. Dianne explained
‘This totally broke our hearts as we were powerless to do anything, sadly we made the hard decision to give notice on the siblings as we knew we wanted to give the twins a permanent home.’
Dianne, 54, had previously worked in various jobs from a receptionist at a school and GP surgery, police front counter, and to a support worker with people with addictions. However, Dianne explains her husband was the driving force behind them becoming foster carers.
‘David’s friend, who worked for Nexus Fostering, told us about Nexus and how good they were. The process takes a while but is straightforward, although was very intrusive into our private life - but if you have nothing to hide then there is nothing to worry about.’
Dianne discusses each of their 7 placements and how each sibling group had different challenges and how every experience has made them the foster carers they are today. Their first placement, 2 girls aged 9 and 12, arrived in June 2018 ‘we were very nervous when our 1st placement arrived and didn't want to do anything wrong. Although the girls settled in quickly, we only had them for a short period of time and are still in touch with them and their dad today’. Their 2nd placement, 2 siblings, arrived a month later, however lasted for 24 hours ‘Sadly the boy broke his arm on the park, which was awful. When the parent got to the hospital, she was very hostile, and we had issues with authorising treatment as we were not in possession of all the relevant paperwork - this was not a pleasant experience, but we learned from it.’
Their 3rd placement was internal respite care for 2 boys for a week. 10 days later they opened their home to an 11-month-old and her 2-year-old sister. After 14 months they went into adoption however Dianne and David still see them every couple of months.
'Saying goodbye was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, it devastated us. However, we feel lucky as we see them regularly’.
They then fostered siblings aged 6 and 9-year-old girls, Dianne explains the struggles they faced with the birth family initially. ‘The 6-year-old had additional needs although they were both standard placements, her behaviour was challenging but became easier as we instilled boundaries. The family was cautious around us, not exactly hostile, but guarded. The girls went back to their birth mum, dad walked out a few weeks after they returned home, but mum is doing well, she will contact me if she has any problems with the girls or the other 4 children. So in a way, we are still providing support for them.’
They then fostered the twins who are still with them now under SGO. To begin with, Dianne and David cared for the twins along with their 4-year-old sister.
‘We had all 3 for a year when we decided to give notice on the 4-year-old. This was a very difficult decision as we felt we had failed but it was the right decision as I couldn't meet all their needs as the twins became more mobile. We also had their older siblings over Christmas meaning we had a 13-year-old boy, 9 and 4-year-old girls, and the twins. This was extremely challenging as the eldest children did not want to engage with us at all. However, after court hearings, the eldest 3 went into long-term foster care and the twins went for adoption.’
During this time, they cared for a new placement of 3 siblings, a 4-month-old boy 3-year-old boy, and 9-year-old girl. ‘This was probably our easiest placement as we got well with the children’s parents. The children were great, the girl was very shy and hid under a blanket most of the time’. However Dianne and David made the difficult decision to give notice to the siblings once they found out the twins, from their previous placement, adoption had fallen through. They have now given the twins a permanent home with them.
Diane explains that the reality of fostering is that it is a 24/7 job,
‘You don't get a break, if you are ill you can't have a day off sick, you can't just pop out for a meal or to the cinema - they really become part of the family’.
She also explains the frustrations with daily and weekly record keeping and how difficult having an allegation can be. ‘We have had allegations which are the worst thing ever. They have made us feel vulnerable and it hurts as you can't prove that they are not true, we have loved all our kids and we try hard to treat them as if they were our own.’
Dianne explains they have sometimes questioned why they foster, however, the support of the agency and their own support network has helped them through the difficult times.
‘It is vital to have a good support network around you and Naomi our social worker has been brilliant. She is always at the end of the phone, always offering advice and support. Naomi has been the voice of reason as my heart often rules my head’.
Dianne discusses the relationship between her birth children and the placements. ‘Our own older children have embraced all our fostered children. Dianne and David have a birth son who still lives with them, ‘He will interact with the children but will take himself off to his room when he has had enough. They annoy him sometimes and we have occasionally had a bit of jealousy’.
Stand out memories
Dianne explains two standout memories from her fostering journey.
‘The first involved our 1st placement. The girls were only with us for 2 weeks but the eldest one has told me several times that if it wasn't for me she would be in a very different place now. We see & hear from her regularly and she always come to us when she needs anything or wants advice.’
‘Another was when our twin's eldest sister. She was very much a ‘loner’ and didn't communicate. On New Year's, all the others had gone to bed and she was sat downstairs with me watching TV. She got up and came and sat next to me on the settee. - her older brother had hit her earlier in the day and I had protected her. She started talking to me about her family, and then out of the blue she came for a cuddle - it was a very special moment. Sadly the next day the barriers were back up however for that evening I think she felt safe’
Dianne’s advice for someone considering fostering
'I think that anyone wanting to become a foster carer needs to be prepared for the tough times as well as the good. It is hard work, can be draining, intrusive, but rewarding when things work out.’ Dianne spoke about how they worked through the heartbreak they have experienced, ‘there is NEVER a dull day but with Nexus you have so much support. All the carers meet up regularly, we have a WhatsApp group just for the carers and there is always someone to talk to or advise you’.
Find out more about fostering siblings here.
26 September 2023