In October 2014, Dave, who had cancer several years before, was re-diagnosed. We were told it had spread to several parts of his body and to "enjoy the next 12 months". Devastating news, but we were given hope with a drug trial that was available. We decided not to tell the children until after the treatment.
My name is Asrat, I'm a male foster carer. When I became a carer I told my youngest brother about it and he said to me, when he thinks of fostering, older women or elderly retired couples come to his mind, but he never thought younger single men would be interested or involved.
Bob and I had planned for quite a while to become foster carers and purposely bought a bigger house. Soon after we had been cleared to foster we went from zero children to three siblings, which was a bit of a shock to the system.
'We have had some truly lovely experiences.'
A couple aged 76 and 84 who have been fostering children for the past 30 years said they will carry on doing it for as long
The reality is that our system of child protection relies overwhelmingly on volunteers. Foster carers provide homes for three out of every four children and young people in care. In return, they receive no salary but are compensated through allowances based on the number of children they care for and their special needs.
Parents chose to become foster carers, and their children, to one degree or another, go along with that choice. They may not do so with the same conviction, even if they understand its value. But their consent is absolutely essential: they may not realise it, but the success of a placement is down to them as much as it is to the adults, and often even more so.
My mum has since gone on to have about 11 short-term foster placements with young children looking for love and stability. Many kids that with a good routine, structure and cuddles, blossomed into charismatic little people they had never got a chance to be.
We want our foster children to grow up to become doctors or teachers, engineers or scientists, to have the same opportunities and aspirations as our own daughters, and how wonderful that would be.
When we became foster carers some years ago we decided that we would focus on short-term care, helping to keep sibling groups together while their futures were decided by others. But, as we have learned, 'short term' means anything from a few days to many months, and even years.