Hi, my name is Claire and I have been fostering for 17 years. I have three birth children and one adopted child.
When I started, my children were 5 and twins of 3. I was a PA in a high-flying company, travelling all over the world then I left when I had my first child. I was a single parent by the time my twins were 18 months.
I started out as a short-term carer and out of hours and emergency which can be for any length of time, from 1 day to 3 years!
I have had 115 children and I have literally loved every minute. Well, maybe not every single one… Some children have been very challenging and hard work, but working with them and seeing even a slight difference is so rewarding.
I have had children come to me distraught, dirty, and confused but after making them safe, warm, and loved I have seen them in tears just because they don’t want to leave me!
I am now a long-term carer with 3 sisters and a 17 yr old all staying with me. I have had the girls 7 years and the 17 yr old a year, although I cared for her when she was a baby, too!
It’s hard work as 2 of the sisters have special needs and one also has ADHD (attention defecit hyperactivity disorder) and the 17 yr old has previously self-harmed. Through all of this, I am here for them.
You have to be very organised; being a foster carer is a career which on any given day could entail different schools, after school clubs, assemblies, shows, parents evenings, holidays, meetings, medical appointments, dentist, doctors, education meetings, being an advocate for the children, keeping them safe, healthy, and happy and also teaching them life skills to help them when they have to go out on their own.
I know I have made a massive difference to all these children, and they are getting better day by day. They have made massive improvements, but we still have a way to go.
I couldn’t foster without the massive help and support from my birth children and my extended family. It is so important to have people to help out if you need to be in two places at the same time or someone is sick etc.
This is honestly the best job I have ever had, its so rewarding.
Sometimes I’m absolutely worn out but then one says “I love you” or waves from the stage of a show and it makes it all worthwhile.
I have had real challenges with these children, but love them all and they love me. They are now part of our family and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Lots of people say, “I’d love to be a foster carer” or “I would, but I couldn’t give them up”, which is what I used to say. It’s emotional, but you get lots of support and help when children move on and you always make it a positive experience. Besides, there’s always another child who needs a home.