“I genuinely can’t ever imagine a life without fostering being a big part of it!”
Julie is a single carer and has been fostering for the local authority for over 16 years. She has three of her own children, two of which live with her.
She has fostered siblings, teenagers, children with complex needs and many babies, who she has moved on for adoption.
She currently has three children placed with her; an 18 year old living with her under the ‘When I’m Ready’ scheme and six year old twin girls. Both girls have global development delay and are significantly visually impaired.
Her house is constantly busy but she thrives on being surrounded by lots of children and wouldn’t change it for the world.
Julie tells her story about how she got into fostering and why she never wants to give it up.
What made you decide to do this?
“There were two main reasons why I decided to look into fostering. Ultimately, the main one was because my mum grew up in foster care and had her life positively changed by her foster carers. In fact, it wasn’t until I was enough to understand that the people I referred to as my grandparents, were actually my mum’s foster parents.
“But my mum never hid anything from me about her time in foster care, throughout my childhood, my mum openly talked about her experiences in foster care.
“She was lucky, my grandparents gave her a good life. What they did for my mum struck a cord with me, I wanted to be able to do the same for someone else. Perhaps as a thank you that my mum was given a second chance of a loving, family life – she was shown how it should be, which she passed onto me.
“But there was another reason why I decided to foster. At the age of 12, my best friend was in foster care and she frequently came round my house. One day, I decided to call round this friend’s house to see if she wanted to come out to play. However, her foster parents told me that she had left. I was devastated. I never saw this friend again and it really affected me. This experience strengthened my desire to foster. I knew I had the love to give, a warm house to welcome children and the resilience needed.”
What are the rewards?
“I was lucky enough to have knowledge of foster care and how it all worked so I came into it with my eyes wide open.
“I honestly, honestly love being a foster carer….well 99% of the time. I genuinely can’t ever imagine a life without fostering being a big part of it! I never want to stop, I don’t like a quiet house!
“I absolutely thrive on seeing each and every child who has lived with me develop and reach milestones, no matter how big or small they are. They are unique to that child. I also enjoy learning new skills and developing my knowledge so I’m able to help the children with what they need from me.
“The young girls who are currently with me are losing their sight. For me, it was a no-brainer that I needed to learn Braille so that I could help them and meet their ongoing needs. I’ve also recently had my whole house adapted for them. I just want them to lead as normal life as is possible.
“I suppose I do this to help give the children a secure future, just like my mum had and then what my mum gave me. Any child or young person that comes to live with me isn’t treated any differently to my own children. I will fight for each and every one of them. Isn’t that what they deserve from us?”
Why foster for your local authority?
“When I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a foster carer, I did my research. I looked at local authority fostering versus fostering for various Independent Fostering Agencies. Based on the information I gathered, I decided to foster with Foster Wales Swansea. I’m glad I did as I’ve never looked back and it’s everything I expected. If I’m honest, I couldn’t ask for any more.
“The support I get from my supervising social worker and the team as a whole is fantastic. If I need to get hold of someone, there is always someone available to speak to. I never feel on my own or afraid to speak up. I feel that people genuinely listen to me and take on board what I feel is right for the children who are in my care.
“I’m also really lucky that throughout my years as a foster carer, I have made friends with other foster carers who are truly friends for life. We meet up regularly and offer each other support when needed. It’s invaluable.”
“If I was to give any advice to others who are considering fostering, I would say have patience and genuine empathy for what the children have been through. Also, don’t expect too much, too soon – you can never underestimate what these children have witnessed or heard. Ultimately, the children need stability, consistency and a loving, supportive home. I find a sense of humour really helps too. Honestly, I would recommend fostering to anyone. And no….I haven’t been asked to put that. “