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. Our daily routines changed drastically, and there was an overwhelming sense of responsibility knowing that we had to look after these three little people.
The first few weeks were hectic - meeting with the school, social workers, opticians, GPs, dentist etc., Fortunately our families are very supportive and helped us immensely. We were also blessed with working alongside brilliant social workers both at our fostering agency TACT (The Adolescent and Children's Trust) and Local Authority Social Services, they have all helped us so much.
We have four Miniature Schnauzers - Arthur, Betty, Margaret and Mary. At first the children were petrified of them, but now each has a favourite. The dogs helped them to develop an element of responsibility, as they recognise when they need to be fed and cared for and often act upon this.
It has now been two years since the children came into our lives and we still love fostering as much we did on day one. Happily, about a year ago the children were placed with us permanently, which enabled us to plan our futures and think about what steps to take next in being able to really give the children the best possible start in life.
As a family we have developed and learned so much about each other and ourselves. We have discovered that children don't really want materialistic things in life, they would much prefer having time spent with them. By offering them our time and attention they have really blossomed as individuals. We found that education isn't just gained in school, holidays, meals in restaurants, trips to the park or even just visiting friends and family all enabled the children to learn new things.
It's been a real pleasure to watch the children gain confidence and grow into the people that they are today. Each of them has succeeded in their own way, from learning to read, interacting with others, performing on stage and horse riding to name a few achievements. The children are doing fantastically well in school - one has moved to high school and one moved into a new school which is closer to our home. Having three children in three different schools can be a logistical nightmare at times, but we took the decision to do that as we believed it was the right step to take to improve their education.
Bob and I are getting married in October and it will be a real family affair, with the two boys as our best men and the girl as our bridesmaid.
We both feel an immense sense of pride in being able to have such a positive impact on the lives of children who may have been through trauma. It is hard work, and at times we are faced with challenges, however that is part and parcel of being a foster carer. The children have enriched our lives beyond recognition, and we would recommend becoming a foster carer to anybody.