Real-life foster care stories

First fostering experience

A teenage boy and his dad in a skatepark.
Fostering was a memorable and brilliant 21-month ride for us.

May 2020

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 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 may be 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 he 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 into 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 “the 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.