Posted: Saturday 11th September 2021
In March 2016, 5,037 children in Wales were living in the care of the local authorities. This number has been increasing every year. 4,264 of those children lived with foster families, and two of those lived with me.
My family provide a long term foster placement for 2 children who suffer from a health condition which increases the risk of seizures, intellectual disability and behavioural problems. This is one of the reasons why their own family could not look after them, which is why they need us.
We have provided placements for 7 children and 2 respite placements for children with disabilities.
When the two children we currently foster first arrived, the girl was a toddler but was developmentally more like a new-born baby. She was unable to move herself because she had just been left, strapped into a babyseat. Her head was flat on one side as she had been left and not moved. She has the biggest dark eyes with the longest eyelashes. She absorbed attention.
Her brother, who was a few years older , had only just started trying to walk and was only making noises not words. He appeared vacant and expressionless. There was no life behind his eyes. He would only consume milk and had a phobia of food.
Neither of them knew how to play, engage with people and they would push toys away like they were something to be frightened of. Initially we thought this challenge would be too much.
We took small steps, gave them huge amounts of love, encouragement and with the help of family, friends and social workers, we now look after two amazing children. They now adore food, toys and they take every opportunity they are given and they make the most of it. I am very proud to be a foster carer.
I have gained life long experience of what it is like to help others through difficult times. I have also learned how to keep calm in stressful situations. The lessons learned through fostering translate to many different situations throughout life.
Aside to all the positives, there are negatives. The emotional pain of separation from the child is crushing. They become part of your family. You will learn how to part with children and the support we were given was enormous. You have to share things, your parents, toys, even my make-up brushes which get lost very often. There are some days where you won’t get on, for example if they bite you, when they are crying in the middle of the night and you just want to sleep.
I am so proud to be a foster carer and I would not change it for the world. It is hard to explain the connection you can have with the children, it is so exceptional. To watch them grow, change, develop and be part of their achievements is an opportunity I would not miss. There is nothing better than coming home to a smiling child running to hug you, when you have had a bad day.
I believe everyone should try to foster. If you have determination, a sense of humour, a spare room and you like a challenge, give it a go. It takes a lot of active players to help children who have experienced abuse or neglect.
Fostering changes generations and the children need you.