Real-life foster care stories

Fostering newborn babies - Susan's story

Foster parent Susan with Councillor Rachel Massey in front of a Christmas tree.
Foster parent, Susan, with Councillor Rachel Massey.

May 2017

Susan has been fostering for 15 years and she mainly fosters newborn babies. She explains in her own words how she juggles fostering with her job as 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 newborn I was worried about asking for 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".