My partner Annie and I started fostering 13 years ago after closing down our temporary staffing agency. I suppose the decision to foster was based on a feeling of trying to do something more altruistic other than just trying to earn a crust, and, as we had both raised families, fostering seemed to be an answer. We have been fostering with Slough Children’s Services Trust for three years, having worked for an agency previously. Annie works as an administrator in a hospital and I am the primary carer, although we do share the responsibilities.
I was fortunate to have had an extremely stable and happy childhood, and the greatest difficulty has been to attempt to imagine the mindset of the children we have fostered when they have been catapulted into an alien environment at such a young age. Reactions vary from fear to outright hostility, and we’ve found, over the years, that it is nigh on impossible trying to anticipate the attitude of the children that we’ve fostered. We try to keep an open mind and to accept that there may be quite a long process before we reach a level of understanding and acceptance.
Over the years we have fostered 15 young people for periods of more than a year, in tandem with more than 20 respite placements. We both have grown up children, who have moved away from home, and the contact between our families and fostered children has been entirely positive.
Without any question, the best thing about fostering has been the young people we have met. We have managed to stay in touch with quite a number of them and it is fascinating talking with them as young adults and getting their retrospectives on their time in care. Fostering is an entirely subjective occupation. I suspect that each foster carer has their own motivation. One thing that I have learned though, is that men can foster! My only regret is that I didn’t start fostering 20 years earlier.
Peter Hopkins is a foster carer with Slough Children’s Services Trust
If Peter has inspired you and you are interested in becoming a foster carer then please email email@example.com or phone 0800 0730291. One of our advisors would be happy to talk to you about fostering in more detail and perhaps start you on an exciting new journey.