Diary of foster carers Anthony and Declan

March 2022 - Life on life's terms

Well, hello there everybody, it's been a while!! We realised the other week that we have been trying to find the time to be able to write a blog. Life has been kind of crazy over the last six months. When we wrote our last blog post, we were riding high after just getting married. We enjoyed an amazing mini-moon down in London and then we were home and back to reality.

We would love to write that everything has been amazing since we became Mr and Mr but the reality of it is that circumstances have forced us to make some changes and we find ourselves in 2022 still digesting the changes of the last few months.

September and a new school year dawned, and we were ready to get back to some routine. Over 7 weeks of summer holidays had left us praying for retirement. We had an amazing summer, don't get me wrong, but now was the time for a little bit of normality again. School runs, after school clubs and crazy weekends before the start of another week. We raced round getting everything ready. New school uniforms, new shoes, and so on. Kids grow so fast!! Off went the kids on their first days back. Bliss!!

"We knew we could rely on the support of others if we needed it. Our supervising social worker was amazing, as always"

And then things started to happen. Anthony started feeling unwell and was really struggling with stomach pains. He ended up off work and we were both really worried it could be something serious. He went to the doctors, and they signed him off and booked him in for an ultrasound. They told him it would take up to 6 weeks for an appointment. Oh my days!! 6 weeks!! It was bad enough watching your husband in constant pain but knowing he had to wait to see what was wrong was so scary.

It was a worrying time and coupled with a few personal issues at the time we really started to feel the pressure. We are so lucky though to have an amazing support network around us and although things were difficult, we knew we could rely on the support of others if we needed it.

Our supervising social worker was amazing, as always!! The kids too were understanding that Anthony was unwell and bless them they really stepped up too. Ron even offered to do more chores. I know personally my mind worked overtime worrying about Anthony. I had lost my friend the previous year to cancer and my head was having a proper wobble overthinking it. To see the person you love in constant pain and so vulnerable gave me a few sleepless nights. And Anthony was worried too, of course. But we remained as optimistic as we could and even joked it was probably just a bit of trapped wind!! Whatever it was we would face it together.

After a few weeks of him being off we started to worry if we could also manage financially as well. Anthony hadn't been at his job that long so we knew he would only get full sick pay for a short time. We decided that maybe I could go back to work for a short time and Anthony could be the stay-at-home carer. I was lucky in that the job I gave up when we started fostering had always said that if I wanted to come back there would be work there for me. To be honest, the thought of going back to work filled me with dread. I loved being the stay-at-home carer and when I left the year before I never intended to go back. But, needs must. 

So I bit the bullet and called my old manager. The week after I found myself back at work. Luckily for us they were flexible and when I explained Anthony was ill, they were so accommodating. It was strange to be back at work, but we adjusted and settle into it as best we could whilst we waited for the ultrasound…

And then "one year on" you say…

"We both also agreed that we had been matched perfectly with Ron and Hermione. We really couldn't have asked for better kids. They were so settled now we couldn't imagine being without them."

The week I started back at work we had another milestone that we had reached. Ron and Hermione had lived with us for one whole year!! And what a year it had been. We had made it to our first year. We had been back to panel, and everything went well. We wanted to mark the occasion and planned a meal at the restaurant where we had our wedding reception.

We also collected all our photographs that we had took over the last year and created a memory book of our first year together for each of them. Hermione has considerably more pictures than Ron, that girl loves a photo opportunity!! We planned to give them to the kids on the night of the meal. Looking back at all the photos brought a lump to our throats. Our first Christmas, our first holiday, our trips out. It really had been an amazing first year.

When we were putting the books together, we sat and chatted about the highlights. We both agreed that it was the best thing we had ever done, not to mention our proudest achievement. We both also agreed that we had been matched perfectly with Ron and Hermione. We really couldn't have asked for better kids. They were so settled now we couldn't imagine being without them.

I have some highlights though which I want to share. Well, they are more like comedy moments and to anyone else may they may seem a small thing but they remind me why I have always wanted kids and why fostering is the most rewarding thing.

So, Hermione and I we were sat there one Sunday morning having breakfast. She turned to me and said: "Declan, are you alright? You look a bit knackered?!"

"I'm fine Hermione", I said, laughing, "just a bit tired. I've only just woken up."

Then she looks at me with the sweetest smile and says: "Would a morning hug help?"

Then she gets up and gives me the biggest hug and tells me she loves me and I'm the best!!

And then one school day morning we're sat there and times getting on and Hermione is taking forever to eat her sausage sandwich and I'm sat there encouraging her and I say to her "Come on Hermione your halfway there and out of nowhere she starts belting out Bon Jovi, 'Living on a prayer'!! "Woah we're halfway there, Woah living on a prayer". Comedy Gold!!

I'm sure there are other moments like this and there will be more to come. So, we celebrated with a delicious meal, and we gave them their memory books. First year done!! And not long after the children's social worker and our social worker talked to us about the long-term match. Bring it on!! As we write this is nearly completed and will hopefully be official soon.

We also have a bit of good news….

The results of Anthony's ultrasound came through and they were all clear. What a relief!! We were really chuffed but still a bit confused as they gave us no indication of what was wrong with him. The doctor prescribed him some tablets and they really helped him. He was booked in for more assessments and as I write this, we are still waiting for him to have an appointment. But he is a lot better and that's the main thing!!

And then another Christmas beckoned and on Christmas Eve Hermione got COVID-19. She was fine though. She stayed in her room and she loved being waited on hand and foot. Luckily none of us got it.

New Year and after staying in all over Christmas we needed something to look forward to. We decided to book a summer holiday. Cornwall here we come. We also have a holiday at Easter in Iceland booked for our friends' birthday. The kids first time abroad and on a plane is going to be an experience. And now the roles have been reversed I continue to embrace work and Anthony is thriving as the stay-at-home carer and plans to start college next month with a view to doing a university degree in September. Exciting times!!

"And no matter what comes our way I am sure we will all face it together. We are a family after all, and nothing is going to change that"

So, whilst we have struggled to adjust to some changes, we find ourselves stronger than ever and with plenty to look forward to with the year ahead. And no matter what comes our way I am sure we will all face it together. We are a family after all, and nothing is going to change that! More adventures to follow people. See you all soon!!