Every foster parent’s journey to taking care of foster children is different. For some, the complex emotions that infertility and failed IVF treatments bring leads them on the path to adoption and foster care.
Foster care can be one of the most rewarding, albeit challenging, life choices that somebody can make. The beauty of welcoming a child, who is experiencing a traumatic transition period in their life, into your home and into your family can be equally as healing for yourself as it can be for the child.
I had the privilege of chatting with Lorraine*, a single mother of 3, who began fostering just over 7 years ago. She reached out to us to quash all of the myths of being a foster parent and to share all of the ups and downs of her experience…
Q. Tell me a bit about yourself; what made you decide to pursue fostering as a career?
A. I’m an experienced parent, with 3 sons of my own. I believed that I had the appropriate knowledge to benefit a child in need. I have been fostering now for a little over 7 years and the time has gone by so quickly. I initially started out doing voluntary work helping young families who were struggling with parenting. I remember thinking at the time that what I was doing wasn’t enough, I wanted to reach out and really help children who needed me.
Q. What type of placements have you had in the past?
A. During my time as a foster parent, I have looked after so many different children, all of whom have been different. The youngest child I have looked after is 6 months and from that all the way up to 19. I’ve had a parent and child placement stay with me and have been involved in bridging 2 adoptions. It can honestly be one of the most rewarding careers, especially when you know that you have helped a child find a permanent safe home.
Q. Tell me about your first placement, how did it go?
A. In my first placement I really thought that I could “fix” everything, I wouldn’t call it naivety, but when you first start out it’s difficult to get a real grasp on the process and journey that you go through together. This process comes with time. My first placement was two siblings, one of which was adopted, whilst the other one remained in care. It was a bittersweet experience because although it was sad to see one of the children stay in care, it was rewarding to see the other child find a forever home.
Q. What support systems are in place to help you through the hard times?
A. It’s important to have a good support network, be it through your friends, family or other foster parents. Sometimes it can be an extremely difficult job so you need to have a good outlet, someone or something to keep you grounded.
Q. What are the main skills and qualities that a foster parent needs to have?
A. Empathy, patience, and a level head. When you’re a foster parent you need to be in tune with how the child is feeling and be able to put yourself in their shoes. It’s important to stay healthy and keep your energy up, because being a foster parent can be physically and emotionally exhausting.
Q. Do you think you will continue being a foster parent?
A. Once you begin fostering it becomes your way of life, I honestly couldn’t imagine doing any other job. The children become part of your family and you remember them forever. Whether it’s helping a young adult through some emotional trauma, or helping a young child transition to adoption, no two days are the same and it’s extremely rewarding. It’s an amazing and fulfilling experience to have been part of their lives.
*Lorraine’s name has been changed to protect her identity and that of the children in her care.
About the Author
Alice Porter is an avid writer who holds foster care close to her heart. You can find her at charity events raising awareness for foster children and finding them forever homes
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