“Seeing you’ve made a difference to a child’s life makes all those stressful days worth it”

BY TACT UK

My partner Karina and I became foster carers two years ago.

We had a pretty good understanding of what we were getting ourselves into as Karina’s parents had been fostering with fostering and adoption charity TACT, The Adolescent and Children’s Trust, for 20 years.

Natalie and Karina who foster with TACT

They’d had several parent and child placements which is a specialist type of fostering where a parent (usually a young mother) and baby come to stay with you at a time when they need extra support or are going through a parenting assessment.

After witnessing Karina’s parents making a difference to these families and supporting them as well, we both knew that this was the right thing for us to do. 

Our application process was easy and actually quite a pleasant experience as we had an incredibly supportive and engaging social worker.

We already knew who we were going to care for as we were taking over a mother and baby placement from Karina’s parents.

Before coming to us, the mother and baby were with Karina’s parents for six months during which we spent lots of time together and already knew each other very well.

That first placement had its high and lows. The child was absolutely lovely, but her mother was dealing with serious mental health problems which brought its challenges.

After nine months, the placement ended in separation and we supported the baby through leaving care on a Special Guardianship Order (SGO).

Even though we tried our very best to enable the parent and child to stay together, and despite the mother having been given all the opportunities to succeed, it became clear that the SGO was the best possible outcome for this little girl.

I attended court to give evidence of mother’s ability to parent which was a stressful experience, but my brilliant supervising social worker helped me prepare and she accompanied me and supported me through the whole process.

Since then, we have had three short parent and child placements and we currently care for two little siblings aged one and two. They’ve been with us for five months and will stay until a family adopts them.

Before they came to us, they had already been through two massive changes in their short lives – separation from their mum and later from their previous foster carers.

No wonder they were very angry, stressed and anxious, particularly the older one.

However, we soon managed to establish a consistent routine for them, so that they had some structure in their daily lives, and knew when bedtime was, when they were going to be fed and what kind of activities we would be doing throughout the day.

Thanks to this we soon began to see massive positive changes in their behaviour which felt wonderful.

Seeing you’ve made a difference to a child makes all those stressful days worth it.

I would recommend anyone who is thinking about fostering to go for it and, in particular, to consider taking on parent and child placements.

They are incredibly rewarding, not only do you get the benefits of caring for a child, but you are also helping a family to stay together and therefore making an even bigger difference.

LGBT Fostering And Adoption Week runs from 4-10 March 2019. For more information on fostering and adoption, visit tactcare.org.uk

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