A family's experience - Tina's story
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 for 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 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 interests 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".