Meet Tina and find out why she loves fostering
After working as a childminder for 12 years (which I loved) I decided to have a change of route, so I applied and started working as a nanny for a famous French chef, looking after his little boy. I really enjoyed this, but it was a very lonely job, so I was then offered a job in a special needs school as a teaching assistant. I thought I had found what I had been looking for.
The staff were great, and the children were totally awesome. Then, in the staff room, some staff members were talking about fostering and that they loved doing the respite at weekends. That was it. I went home and started to talk to Carl, my husband, about fostering. We looked into it and read all that we could find, then I went along to an open evening ‘just to get some information’.
When I came home, I told Carl that we had a social worker coming out on the Friday and we started training on the Saturday! That was the start of our fostering journey. We did all the training and worked our way through the paperwork. To our delight, we went to fostering panel six months after.
We had our first placement two weeks after panel; a newborn baby girl. Wow! What a whirlwind that was. We didn’t know about all the meetings we needed to attend, within the first month of a placement. We were like a rabbit in headlights! With the all the abbreviations in meetings; we didn’t know what they all meant but, with the help of our brilliant social worker at the time, we got through the first 12 weeks in excellent hands. The baby was with us for 11 months until she was adopted.
As she was our first child, our whole family fell in love with her. So, when it was time for her to move on, the impact was felt by us all. The rollercoaster of emotions we all felt was immense. I remember going to the office, to meet the new parents for a question and answer meeting, which was lovely. But, driving away from the meeting, I remember coming over with such emotion; I started to cry. How strange! But, when you love what you do and you give your heart to a child, even though you know they will be moving on one day; that's what fostering is about.
That was nearly 8 years ago and with each child that comes through our door, when they leave, they take a small part of our heart with them.
Working with Central Bedfordshire Council's fostering team has been an absolute delight. Every social worker I have worked with, be they a fostering social worker or a child’s social worker, we’ve had a good working relationship with.
Over the last 8 years, there have been many highlights. Adopting our little girl has to be one of them. We didn’t go into fostering to adopt, but we are so glad we did. She is a delight and such a strong willed little girl.
Also, taking out a special guardianship order on our son. He has additional needs and is non-verbal but boy, he lets you know what he wants. Both children are close in age, which is lovely.
Then, when we thought we knew everything about fostering, we were asked to care for a young boy from Iraq.
BOOM! Our world opened up so wide. We thought having a non-verbal child was hard enough, but having a child come into your home with a different language and culture was very hard. We got through the day with the help of an interpreter on the phone.
Having this young man in our lives has been amazing. It has taught us so much about life: not to take things for granted, to look at where we live and the world with fresh eyes and humanity. As well as us teaching him about the way we live, he has taught us about his culture and way of life back home. He is still with us, four years on.
Another highlight was meeting Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace at the Royal Garden Party, last year, was a day to remember. Carl and I were lucky enough to be selected to attend for our role in the fostering service. It was a great pleasure to fly the flag for fostering and to have such a memorable day.
Fostering has become a way of life for our family and we love it. I’m not saying it’s easy, as it can be very hard juggling your own children, school, meetings and appointments, as well as having time for yourself.
Would we change any of it? Not in a million years.
Talk to us about fostering
We welcome anyone considering fostering to get in touch to find out more, we are happy to answer any questions you may have.
Telephone: 0300 300 8181
Start your fostering journey with us today, we’ll be with you every step of the way.