Listen to some of the true stories from our foster carers on why they chose to foster.
Why be a foster carer video on YouTube (4mins 11secs)
Foster carers tell us about themselves, why they decided to foster and their experiences.
Sandra and Peter
To Sandra and Peter,
If it wasn’t for the 2 of you I don’t know where I would be now. I love the both of you and I am so happy that I came to live with both of you and I would not change that for the world.
I want to thank both of you for helping me change into a mature young lady. I will always appreciate your love, I am so proud to call you both my mum and dad.
I will always love you both and I also want to thank you for being there for me when I need you.
"Thank you for helping me grow"
I will be ever grateful to both of you for helping me through my epic journey of my foster life. I can’t believe it took this long for me to find the both of you.
I can’t believe it has been 5 years that I have been with both of you. So as I said I want to say thank you for helping me grow into a mature young lady.
I love the both of you and even if I do move out when I reach 21, I will always be here for you just like you are for me.
Thank you very much,
Lots of love
Angela and Barry
We set off on our fostering journey 6 years ago. We’ve fostered all ages, from 3 to 18 years old.
We’ve fostered the same young person for 6 years, she was our very first placement when she was 13 years old. She is now at university, studying to be a nurse. She comes home most weekends to stay with us - and bring her washing!! We are immensely proud of her.
There’s been some challenges along the way, but we have built up a fantastic relationship with her and she’s blossomed into a lovely young woman. The day we moved her to university has to be our proudest fostering moment. It was very emotional, moving out after 6 years. But she thinks of us as her family and will always be around us.
We once took a sibling group of 2 teenagers to the beach for their first time and they wouldn’t come out of the sea, even though it was in October!!
"We don’t feel as though it’s a job, it’s a privilege"
We’ve experienced our foster children’s first day at school, first time on holidays, learning to ride bikes. It’s so lovely to see them having fun, feeling relaxed and making memories that will last forever. We’ve offered them stability, consistency, and routine. And a family life, that they may never have experienced before.
There’s nothing else we would want to do!! We don’t feel as though it’s a job, it’s a privilege and it’s the life we chose and no other life would give us the opportunities fostering has.
We share our love, family, home, and time. It can be challenging at times, so we’ve needed stickability!! But it’s extremely rewarding to see the difference we’ve made to these young lives.
If you’ve ever thought about fostering, speak to Rochdale Council. They will offer you the support, training and opportunities to meet other carers.
Our only regret is…we wished we’d done it years earlier!!
Our first fostering experience
Please note names have been changed to protect people’s identity
We’re approved!! Yaaayy!! A week later, we get the call for a 10-year-old boy. He would be arriving that evening.
Oh my word, “what have we done?” “what if our children don’t like him?” “what if he doesn’t like us?” “what if he doesn’t fit into our family”? The list of doubts and anxieties was long. These thoughts were accompanied by excitement, enthusiasm and the need to “make a difference”.
Room prepared, toothbrush and towel sorted, some “things” we thought a 10-year-old might like to do set out on the drawers, and a little welcoming gift laid on his bed.
Right, we are ready!!
That evening, the waiting seemed like forever and then the knock on the door arrived. Husband and I tried to stay calm and relaxed and I welcomed the social workers and Jack into our home. He was not what we expected (not sure exactly what we expected) but this wasn’t it. He seemed happy, smiley, confident and a little cheeky. Not the frightened, bedraggled child that you see on the television programmes and adverts.
Within 5 minutes he saw that we didn’t have Sky TV and looked disappointed, “well, we have it at home and loads of DVDs!” Not what we had prepared for.
Underneath, I was nervous, but had to remind myself of how he must be feeling and that this maybe bravado coming from him alongside his nerves.
The social workers gave us some notes to read and things to sign, then they left. We introduced him to our children who were a few years older than him. They too were nervous and throughout the assessment process we had discussed most things with them.
They needed to prepare themselves too. They needed to know that they may see, hear and experience things that they had not encountered before, and they knew that we were here to talk about their feelings too. Jack
seemed quite easy going and our children and him quickly laughed and joked about things. Our 12-year-old showed him around the house and cupboards and within a couple of hours we began to feel a little easier with things.
"It was a memorable and brilliant 21-month ride for us"
He unpacked his small bag of belongings. That night, Jack ate with us, he was ravenous after a long and traumatic day. He chatted about his siblings and his parents, his likes and dislikes, his favourite football team and films. He was shown how the shower worked and he showered, had supper and I asked if he liked to read before he went to sleep. He didn’t, he just wanted to be left alone. We said our goodnights and made sure he had everything he needed. He thanked us and went in his room.
Several hours later, when we were going to bed, his lamp was on, but it was quiet in his room. I knocked quietly on the door to no reply. I crept in slowly and he was fast asleep, fully clothed.
My husband and I talked quietly about our thoughts of our new member of our family (be it temporary), and knew this was going to be a bumpy ride. We too felt exhausted, but also excited about the days ahead of us.
It was a memorable and brilliant 21-month ride for us. We went through bad, sad, emotionally draining, angry, upset and “what have we done” times.
However, there were many, many more funny, happy, heart-warming, first day at high-school times, parent’s evenings and “best thing we’ve done” times. The little things that our children took for granted were big things to Jack; a warm room, food on the table, treats in the cupboard, sheets on the bed, the up to date trainers and clothes, a “Nike” school bag.
It took Jack 18 months to give us a hug, but when he did, he didn’t want to let go. This is one of the many reasons why we foster.
Why we wanted to be foster carers
We loved being parents. We decided to have 3 children, if we could have afforded more we would have. We did our best for our children while both having to work full time, me working nights and husband working days.
Don’t get me wrong, our children weren’t angels, we did have hard times, but we still loved being parents, the good times outweighed the hard times.
When our children grew up and moved on, we were so proud of them all but the house was too big just for us and too quiet. Over the weeks I talked to my husband about fostering but he wasn’t too keen. But, because it was something that I had always wanted to do, he decided we would do the journey together.
We applied for fostering and did the training and then went to panel. We were accepted and waited for our first child to arrive (more nervous than being a parent for the first time).
We have been fostering for about 14 years now and we've had so many children with us we have lost count. We have had mother and baby, long term, short term and emergency placements.
We love looking after the children from when they arrive when they are so afraid, to over the weeks catching their first smile. When they come to you for a cuddle, holding your hand when you go out, watching their confidence grow, helping them with school work and watching them slowly catch up with the rest of the class. Sports day, parents evenings, being so proud of what they have achieved.
The rewards the children give are everything you could wish for"
Everything that you would do with your own children and more because you have the time. Taking them on an airplane for the first time and seeing their faces light up.
The children that are long term placements have become part of our family. Our children and grandchildren accept that one week we are a family 4 and then it might go up to 5 or down to 2 .
Not once have we regretted becoming foster carers, my husband says it’s the best choice he has ever made; apart from me and our children. We get more out of this career than any other career we have done in the past, the only regret is we should have done it sooner.
The rewards the children give are everything you could wish for. All I can say is if you have a lot of patience and time to be there for them and are considering fostering as a career then give it a go. Me and my husband have never regretted it. We don’t think we will ever retire as we love being here for the children and we get so much out of it too.
Sarah and Emma - we're gay, can we foster?
Sarah and Emma have just finished the assessment process to become foster carers with us. Sarah explains in her own words how they felt about the process and their journey to becoming foster carers.
"For many years Emma and I have never doubted having/wanting children in our lives. We've been in a same sex relationship for 12 years and during our relationship we've discussed fostering many times but we were always a little afraid as we are a gay couple.
After seeing an advert to become foster carers with Rochdale Council which mentioned LGBT carers can apply, we decided this was the right time and applied there and then. The response was almost immediate and, sure enough, we had a visit about 2 weeks later by a social worker to discuss the fostering process and what to expect.
Never was it even mentioned that we were a same sex couple until much later in the process when we came to our personal testimonials where we discussed our lives and growing up, relationships, partners, family, so naturally being gay was part of this and we were comfortable enough with the social worker to open up and discuss our lives, knowing we were supported.
Never did we feel in a minority or judged or different in any way, we were treated as a couple. We then attended Skills to Foster – an intense 3 day course with other future foster carers. Starting the journey on the course is where you gain valuable information on the process, children’s issues, how to deal with various situations and the implications of fostering in your home.
Some of these sessions were tough and really open your eyes to the realities of fostering and also the true rewards fostering can give. Again, never did we feel different or judged for being gay, we were just Emma and Sarah – potential new carers. I mean who wouldn’t want 2 fab foster mums!
"It doesn't matter who you love, just share some of that love around"
I think we were more concerned about the potential children we would be caring for and how they would feel about a same sex couple looking after them, or indeed their parents feelings about us. The Skills to Foster course and some positive words from our social worker answered these questions for us and gave us the confidence that these wouldn’t be issues we couldn’t overcome.
Also, the fact we haven’t had children in our lives and would we be at a disadvantage - never mind being gay!!
Again, our social worker made us feel at ease and gave us the confidence to continue with our journey.
The assessment process is very intense but eased with our fabulous social worker who was there every step of the way. If a question popped up we could just message her and she would come back to us very quickly. It was her job to delve into every aspect of our lives, from birth upwards. Sometimes this could feel a little intrusive but we understood why they needed this information and in no way through this process did we feel judged or different due to our sexuality. In fact with each session we felt more comfortable and building a strong bond with our social worker, we felt extremely supported and that has never changed from day one.
Finally we are starting to feel the reality of becoming foster carers is imminent – we are so close to our panel date and ready to start making a difference to hopefully many children’s lives.
The world has changed- for the better- we are human beings, doesn’t matter who you choose to love, just share some of that love around".
Lauren and Danny
Lauren and Danny have been fostering for almost 5 years and are currently fostering an older child and a teenager as well as having a 6 month old baby of their own. Lauren explains in her own words their fostering experience.
"I began my career working in family law and had represented parents whose children were in foster care. This gave me a real insight into the start some children had in life. I felt children deserved a better future.
When we applied to be foster carers we both worked full time and were assessed initially as respite carers. Since then I gave up my business as a fish and chip shop owner to become a full time foster carer. I was worried about going from having a guaranteed salary to zero salary – when we sold the shop we didn't have a placement but within three days we had a sibling group.
Before we started fostering we had no childcare experience other than taking care of nieces and nephews for a couple of hours. When I changed my career, and bought a fish and chip shop, the business was located close to a secondary school and I feel that my experience in the shop had helped me learn to build up a rapport with teenagers.
Both our fostering placements are part of our family and having our baby recently has helped cement the family and the given the boys a role as older brothers.
'You can see the change in their confidence. I feel like I've found my vocation'
We do prefer teenagers as they generally want to talk. It might take a bit of probing but they'll usually tell you what's wrong, and you can have a real laugh with them. The main problems we have experienced have been around drug use and going missing from home - and a bit of back chat but you expect that from teenagers!
You can make fostering as busy or not as you like; depending on how much you want to get involved with it as a whole. I have a routine, I get up with the boys and ensure they have eaten breakfast and are sorted for the day ahead. I am involved in lots of support groups as well as being on the committee for Rochdale's celebration event for young people. We've done a lot of training which is invaluable when you don't know what issues a child will have they come through your door.
I find the children's achievements at school the most rewarding, whenever a child achieves anything at school, for them just to be normal and as good as their peers is really rewarding. They don't have to pass their GCSEs fantastically but if they've improved we feel a real sense of pride. You can see the change in their confidence. I feel like I've found my vocation.
If you're thinking about fostering do it – or at least enquire and look into it. It's been the best thing we've ever done".
Susan has been fostering 15 years and she mainly fosters new-born babies. She explains in her own words how she juggles fostering with her job a gym instructor.
"I came into fostering when my own children were grown up. I thought – I'm not finished with that! We're really physically active and are always out and about.
When I got my first new-born I was worried about asking work for the time off and expected them to ask me to leave. But they said 'that's amazing' and gave me three months off. Now I am able to increase my hours when I've not got a placement to allow me and my husband time to have a break. Sometimes it all gets too busy and I think I'll give one job up but I can never choose. To get that job satisfaction from something you enjoy is great.
I've had around 10 placements in my time as a foster carer. I initially fostered toddlers but now I mainly look after babies from birth. I find that it's important that to develop their brain in that first year and it's so rewarding seeing them meet all their milestones.
'You get out what you put in'
I also have 5 grandchildren under 3 and an older granddaughter who's been really supportive of fostering. I thought I'd give it up 12 years ago when she was born but she says to me, 'now it's up to you whether you carry on but I think you should'. She loved every minute of helping out and there was never any jealousy.
It takes each placement a few weeks to settle down but we usually have them for about a year before they go back to birth family or to adoptive parents. I've been lucky that I've always been happy with the decision made for each child and we've always kept in touch after they've moved on. It helps you recover as you do get attached and it can be upsetting when they go. You can build relationships with the families though. You get out what you put in.
When I've got a child in placement my day usually starts with going to the gym first thing and then teaching a couple of classes and getting home in time before my husband needs to leave to go to work.
I find that the children are the easy part of fostering and that the stresses of the job come with all the appointments that need to be kept. It works because you've got a relationship with the people you work with. We've had the same worker for over 2 years and she knows us very well.
If you are considering fostering and you're in a relationship you'd need to both want to do it. I can't think of anything better to be doing, I'd still want to do it if I was single. Whenever you've not got a placement you can go off and do something fun. We go and do skiing and snowboarding.
I just get so much out of it. I feel like it's what I'm good at".
Tina has been fostering for over 5 years, bringing foster children into her home with her own kids. In her own words she explains her family's experience of fostering.
"Before I became a foster carer I worked for Rochdale Council, I saw the recruitment advert for foster carers and when I enquired I was surprised when someone called me back and invited me to an event.
For me the decision to become a foster carer was a simple one as I like children, I had 2 already and felt I had a lot to offer. I could do it so why don't I? In my time as a foster carer I've fostered 6 children. In the first couple of years I took short term placements so she could see if fostering was right for me and my children. You do worry; what if they don't like you or the kids don't like them?
'My children have been really positive and treat their fostered siblings as part of the family'
I don't think I had any preconceptions about what would be involved in getting approved but didn't realise how involved it would be. I understand why they need to go through all that and they even assessed our two pets! They take into account the ages of your children so I was approved for children between 5 and 11.
My children have been really positive about having foster children in the house and treat their fostered siblings as just part of the family. Our current foster child has been with us 4 years now and it's just normal and boring family life now, there's the usual sibling rivalry around. At our annual review it was really sweet to see what the kids had written about having foster children in the family – what they'd say to someone else when I wasn't around.
I do find it rewarding. It's the little things that people might think insignificant. Like the times they come to you and hug you or to ask your advice. And when you see them grow in confidence. It's also rewarding to harness the talents you know they've got. I forget she's my foster child.
When you see the 3 of them together, all very different and with different hobbies and interest but they'll sit down and talk, chatting confidently together, and it's all normal. She doesn't feel any different and still moans about the same things the other two do, she has the same worries and concerns. She's the same as every other kid. She deserves the same and has the same hopes and dreams.
The highs and lows of being a foster carer are the same as being a parent. Because I already had kids I was all set up for swimming lessons, Beavers, Cubs and so on. I wouldn't say my lifestyle changed too dramatically when I started fostering.
Before I started fostering I thought the children I'd be caring for would be more difficult, with behaviour problems. I didn't think they'd come skipping through the door.
The most difficult thing is when the kids are arguing, but that's the same for any parent. It's hard to say goodbye to them when they leave, even when you know it's a positive step for the child. You miss them when they've gone too and you worry about whether they're doing OK.
I think if people are considering it they should just find out more about it. Everyone I spoke to was really friendly and you've got nothing to lose by taking that step and getting in touch to find out more. Just take that step and do it".
You can foster too!!
If you're thinking about fostering, we'd love to hear from you.