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Lucy Stevens - 26th February 2021
Lai and Barrie, Essex
We would really recommend fostering. If you are thinking of making the first step, we can testify that fostering changes lives. We took our first step 6 years ago; over that time we have looked after a range of children.
Our first child was a teenager. Our role was really to prepare her for independence. She is a lovely girl and just needed gentle guidance and a loving, non-judgemental family. She stayed with us for a year and made so much progress in that time. She continues to be a close friend to our daughter and now has a good job in a hospital and a child of her own!
What’s it all about?
For us, fostering centres around helping and caring for children, and providing a secure loving home, preparing them for independence and teaching them basic life skills and values and generally teaching them about family life with us.
To the child it can be a life changing experience as they may have never experienced simple things such as a loving home, or a treat of an ice cream or outing to the zoo. Simple things we all take for granted.
It’s not all plain sailing..
Fostering of course comes with ups and downs and we have come across many challenges with different ages of children. We have had police visits and trips to A&E and have had to draw on all our skills to navigate the Covid 19 lockdowns.
Without the support of our birth children and family and friends and of course Eastern Fostering services staff, we would struggle. The team at Eastern Fostering Services, who are amazing, have a wealth of experience and staff that know us all very well. They offer an excellent training programme to keep us on our toes.
Through all the challenges, we have learned that it is the simple, everyday things that make the biggest difference: being there, being consistent, modelling healthy relationships. These things are life changing for many children in foster care.
Lucy and Jim, Essex
More than a plaster
We’ve been fostering for 5 years. We felt that in many ways you can help people without any real sacrifice. You can donate to charity and then go about your business and forget about the suffering around you. We wanted to do more than stick a plaster on the things we saw around us. And so we decided to foster.
The fruit that keeps on giving
Our first child stayed with us for 3 years. He is a lovely lad but suffered terribly due to the life experiences he had had. In coming to live with us there were so many new experiences he had to come to grips with and he wasn’t really someone who could cope well with change back then.
We saw lots of successes with him, and celebrated these, but I think our overall feeling was that we hadn’t really helped as much as we’d wanted. He was keen to move out and pursue independence and we had gently advised against this and offered for him to stay on. In the end, we let go and made sure he knew that our door would always be open to him.
Fast forward 2 years and he continues to be a part of our life. We speak every week via phone and we see him when restrictions allow. Just this week, he called me to tell me he had got 89% in a recent exam at college. Being able to tell him how proud we were and hearing the excitement in his voice as he shared his success with us felt like the first bite of an apple we’d been growing for 5 years. Sweet and worth savouring.
You can’t grow a rose without a good helping of manure
Good fostering does change lives and is a beautiful thing to be part of. But as a friend of mine says, you need a lot of manure to grow a beautiful rose. This is so true. At times fostering will feel thankless and you will wonder why you’re doing it, but there is beauty waiting weeks, months, maybe even years down the line.
While you’re in the manure phase having good friends and family around you really helps. Without it you can feel isolated and alone. We’re lucky to have them in abundance.
Choosing the right fostering provider is also important. Our agency, Eastern Fostering Services, has always gone above and beyond the call of duty to support us. They continue to provide exemplary support, understanding and development as we continue to foster.
If you would like to know more about fostering contact us via our website, facebook or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are offering virtual meetings with anyone who would like one so that we can answer any questions you may have about fostering.