Posted: Saturday 18th September 2021
When is the right time to mention the idea of fostering to your family?
- Will your husband and kids be a keen as you are?
- What will your parents think?
It’s important to let them know, involve them and reassure them with answers to their questions. Here are some top tips to help you talk about fostering with your family.
- Excitement and realistic timescales. When is the child arriving?
- Have you thought this through? Do you know enough about it?
- Questions, questions, questions. What age, sex…?
- Is it like Tracy Beaker?
- Finding the right time to drop the F-bomb into conversation
1. Excitement and realistic timescales. When is the child arriving?
When you mention that you are thinking of fostering, most people don’t know the process and length of time involved. So they might expect a child to be arriving soon, today or next week. Children can get particularly excited. Be ready to calm their excitement, a bit like Christmas. It’s going to take at least 6 months so think of a clear milestone that they will understand; “after the Summer holidays” or “after your next birthday” so they can put it into context.
“Close family and friends initial reaction was excitement, asking timescales? What age/sex child might I look after?”
2. Have you thought this through? Do you know enough about it?
Do you mention it to family at the beginning or once you are part-way through? That’s up to you.
It’s a good idea to share with family, particularly your household, before you start your assessment as we will want to chat to them. It is best that they’ve had time to digest the idea and it’s not a surprise.
How much you know about fostering will depend of how far you’ve looked into yourself. So if you are at the early stages the answer might be “I’m just looking into it, maybe we can chat when I know more myself”. Or if you choose to wait until you know more yourself, you can share what you’ve learnt on training.
“My parents were in a little shock and their first question they asked if I had thought it through fully? What discussions have I had so far?”
3. Questions, questions, questions. What age, sex…?
Your family might expect you to know everything about fostering, including what child you are going to foster. What age will they be, boy or girl? The answer is, you don’t know, but you can give them an idea of the age range you are looking at. Most recruitment officers within the local authority fostering team would be happy to chat to wider family and answer their questions for you. There are loads of resources available to explain fostering to family too.
For sons and daughters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-6WkqTDUCU
For children: Childrens Fostering Guide
For teens: thrive_magazine_english_web.pdf
For the grandparents: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-4jC1Sqvnc&t=2s
4. Is it like Tracy Beaker?
Tracy Beaker is a children’s TV show that first aired in 2002 and ran through to 2018, so a lot of young people will have heard of her, watched the show or read the books by Jacqueline Wilson. She has recently reappeared on our screens in 2021 as “My Mum Tracy Beaker”.
If I’m honest, I’ve never watched it, but according to Wikipedia “Tracy lives in care at a care home referred to as "The Dumping Ground". She has a wild imagination and regularly breaks rules. As such, she is considered a bad role model by parents.”
Sophia Alexandra Hall a care-experienced young person discusses Tracy Beaker here.
5. Finding the right time to drop the F-bomb into conversation
It can be awkward to find the right time to drop the F-bomb into conversation. If you want a subtle segway why not mention a famous celebrity who was fostered (there’s loads), a TV show or movie. For example, Paddington was fostered by The Browns, Superman, Kriss Akabusi, Neil Morrisey, Marilyn Monroe, Luke Skywalker, Pippa in home and away (80’s reference!) and many more were adopted or cared for by family. My favourite current movie is “Instant Family” although this is American and represents a “foster to adopt” situation it gets a lot of things right whilst also being entertaining to watch.
“I told them only very recently, and due to lots of activities going on with the family, I had to fit it in on a ‘good’ day when they weren’t distracted.”
As you look into fostering, it’s a good idea to take your family on that journey with you. They can then welcome a child into the family with open arms and support you along the way. Your local authority fostering team can arrange chats with other fostering families and even offer training to answer your family’s questions.