Foster Child Case Study - Andrew
Andrew is a 17-year-old from East Dunbartonshire. He was placed in foster care when he was aged 13. Here is his story in his own words.
“My dad left my mum when I was a few months old so it was just me and my mum for a long time. We moved around a lot. My mum had a history of alcoholism. There was an incident where I woke up and my mum was not too well and I just had to sit and watch. I phoned an ambulance and then social work got involved and they moved me in with my foster carers. It took me a while to get used to it but I love it now.
“I felt quite sad that I wasn’t going to be living with my mum or my step-dad, who brought me up as well. My mum and step-dad broke up and he went to live on his own. There were a lot of empty spaces in my life which my foster carers helped me fill because they gave me everything I needed really. They made me feel happy.
“Everyone is always up at the house. It’s one of those houses where family never stops dropping in. I make tea for my foster mum – she says I make good tea. My foster dad and I like to do outdoor activities together like going walking, camping and fishing. We are planning on doing the West Highland Way.
“My foster dad is a bit of a joker. He’s always playing pranks. He is brilliantly stupid sometimes. He is not the type of person to sit around, he always has to be doing something.
“My relationship with them is very close. They are always trying to encourage me to do things for myself, like do my own cooking, I can do that now, although her cooking is the best. My foster dad encourages me to iron my own clothes. They are just trying to teach me to be able to live independently.
“Every day is always good with my foster parents but the thing that I always love is on a Sunday, whether it is warm or rainy, loads of family come up and my foster mum makes a massive steak pie and everyone is there and we all just eat together and watch TV. It’s not much, but it means a lot to me.
“I think they are proud of me for trying to do my own thing and go to college. They’ve seen how I’ve progressed over the years. They are proud of how far I am getting.
“I am grateful for the life they have given me. This has been the best life I could have hoped for.”
Foster Carer Case Study- Pauline
Pauline has been fostering for 14 years. Having worked hard in her chosen career, she was in her late 30s when she took a career break and became a foster carer.
She has looked after a newborn for a couple of weeks and two infants who stayed with her for a year or so before moving to live with their adopted families. She had two girls who came to her as very young children and now, more than a decade later, stay with her permanently. She has also provided respite care for two older teenagers.
This is her story:
“I came to fostering because I couldn’t have children of my own. I had been through fertility treatment without success and then my relationship sadly broke up. I couldn’t see my life without kids.
“Fostering seemed the obvious path for me but I knew that I would be coming to it as a single parent. I choose fostering instead of adoption because I was worried I might not be any good. Fostering, for me, was a way to have experience of looking after children. I felt I had the skills and the love to give, but I still worried about if I was able to do it. I put a lot of thought into it.
“Applying to become a foster carer was a long, in-depth process and I knew that I had to be committed to do it. A lot of time is spent making sure that you have the skills and commitment.
“Within two weeks of being approved a newborn baby arrived from hospital. It was daunting, exciting, overwhelming and wonderful at the same time. I felt privileged to be part of this little boy’s life at such an important stage. Everything you have been taught suddenly comes into play. I always knew he was going onto another family after a couple of weeks but I still cried my eyes out.
Pauline had another two other infants who stayed with her for a year or so. In both cases she has maintained a relationship with the child and his adoptive family. “When they leave, you can feel devastated as you have formed such a bond but I am very fortunate to good relationships with both sets of adoptive parents. I am kept up to date on how they are doing and that has made it so much easier. The joy that you can give to those parents, the information you can pass on because you know the child so well, it’s just a lovely thing to be a part of.
Two years into her fostering journey, two little girls came to live with her and more than a decade later, they are now with her on a more permanent basis but she still benefits from social work support.
“Being a foster carer has been hugely satisfying for me. It has allowed me to develop skills I didn’t know I had. It has increased my empathy and my understanding of how people react . My skills have been tested with kids who potentially have had trauma in their early life.
“I feel so blessed to have my two amazing girls in my life. We are a family. One of my girls has a learning disability and she is so inspiring. She is fabulous and she taught me a lot. I’ve had to think outside the box, listen and understand. I never would have thought I could have cared for a child with additional needs but fostering brings out skills you never knew you had. In other jobs, you always have the choice to walk away. Being a foster carer, you have to find a solution and that is one of the real skills you develop. You become a great problem solver.
“It is immensely rewarding and also challenging. I had never been a parent outside of this experience but if you are already a parent, you already know the score. I wouldn’t want my life to be any different. I love my life and my kids.
“The feedback I get from the professionals is that they can see a huge difference in their resilience and self esteem.
“My kids’ start in life was not good and there were certain behaviours that came out of that, but we have worked hard to manage that. They are now secure, confident, independent and value themselves. I hope that some of that has been down to me.”