It’s more than 30 years since I started fostering. 30 years! When I took on my first child, I didn’t think my husband and I would still be fostering in our 60s but it’s really become a way of life for our family. I’m proud to say we’ve helped over a hundred children and it’s made our family bigger and better in so many ways. We’re still in touch with many of the children (now adults!) we’ve cared for. Some pop round for Sunday dinners and some even have babies of their own!
I’m often asked how I got into fostering. Growing up, I was one of 13, so I was always used to a big family. Then a boy on our road lost both parents and my mum fostered him which had an influence. Years later, I went to Slough one day and they had a stall set up. At first I thought I couldn’t do it, then I said to my husband, ‘We could really help some kids’. The rest, as they say, is history. Before this, I’d been a healthcare worker at Wexham Hospital and then went on to district nursing. My husband has had a good career as a field engineer throughout.
When we started, our own kids were 3, 10 and 12. They had to share their rooms, toys and sometimes clothes with the children we cared for but apart from the odd tantrum, if something that belonged to them got broken, they were very supportive. (It’s worth mentioning that kids being fostered can no longer share rooms and, for understandable reasons, need to have their own room.)
Many of the children have stayed in contact via the internet or phone, and when we have a family party my daughter will let them know and some of them will come along. I now have grandchildren too who are great at making new children feel welcome and we find that they help them to settle into our family. It’s another thing that makes me feel proud.
You won’t be surprised to hear that over the course of 30 years, we’ve had some challenging times but while fostering for Slough, now Slough Children’s Services Trust, we have been supported well during good times and bad and we feel that they are part of our large family. One of the hardest things is getting the kids to trust you. It takes time and work but when it happens it feels like a real breakthrough. The best thing is when I hear the kids’ laughter, when they relax, trust you and start talking to you and coming out of their shell.
Some people think it’s amazing that we’re still fostering in our 60s but the children we care for keep us young in body and mind and while we have good health we feel that we can help many more children and their families. I see people our age, who are fit and able, and may be looking for something truly worthwhile to keep them busy, now their own kids have grown up. If that’s you, I’d say why not look into fostering? It might be something you’ve never even considered and maybe it’s not for you but you might just be surprised.