Nathan and Kayleigh reflect upon their first year of fostering

Nathan and Kayleigh are both 25 years old, and have two children aged 4 and 6 years old. Nathan works full time, Kayleigh is a stay at home mum. The family have been approved in February 2018, and reflect upon their first year of fostering

“Fostering runs through our family and is just a way of life for us, my Grandma has been fostering since I was very young and It was always clear to me that I wanted to carry it on.

I met Nathan 8 years ago and we decided very early on this is the path we wanted to take. I already knew quite a lot about fostering and had no doubts it was what I wanted to do, Nathan was a little more apprehensive and believed looked after children tend to come with a stereotype of difficult, unruly unmanageable behaviours. However soon after becoming part of our family he experienced what it was really like with meeting my Grandma’s children and was soon desperate to start the process and begin welcoming children into our home.

The process was lengthy and sometimes intense but extremely rewarding and eye-opening. Lots of training courses are on offer and we were required to attend a Skills to Foster course which was an absolutely fantastic 3-day course which we really enjoyed. I thought I knew everything but we learnt so much about the role and the importance of becoming positive, loving, understanding role models to all the young people needing safe, secure homes. In the 12 months since we have been approved we have attended numerous training days covering a huge range of difficulties we face with our children and the skills we have learnt give us the confidence to provide the best possible care, they are also great for meeting with other foster carers and sharing/offloading our experiences.

We have had a few difficult placements and some that did not work in our home, we have a fantastic Supervising Social Worker who we go to if we need any advice/support. In difficult times she has been quick to help and deal with the problems we were facing, and in some cases the placement has had to come to an end. We found It very difficult to admit to ourselves that this particular placement was not working and did not want to give up. However, the children were not able to reach their full potential in our family environment and It would be in their best interest to give them somewhere more suitable. We have learnt there is no such thing as thinking you’re not good enough to be a foster carer but actually just finding the right match for the children is important and also very important not being afraid to speak up when we’re finding it hard as we have great support and somebody has always been available to offer advice.

12 months have passed now and we have welcomed 9 children into our home, every single one has been from very different circumstances and it can be quite shocking and upsetting to hear what they have been through when we get the call. We have loved and treated them all like our own and are always sad to see them leave, however treasuring our time with them and sitting down reflecting on their time with us is the most rewarding feeling in the world! Giving them experiences they may never have had a chance to do before and just being able to give them, friendship, love confidence, guidance and most importantly, self-worth! Some of the children have had a tough start and do not know how to accept love and affection and can respond in the complete opposite way you would hope, giving you a feeling that you are not good enough to do this. Once they form that bond with you they will begin to trust you and confide in you it gives us that boost in thinking “yes this is why we wanted to do this!”

We have no regrets, we have a strong supportive network of family, friends and the support from other professionals we work with, our birth children are happy and love meeting all the young children we share our lives with. They have a great understanding of the feeling and emotions our looked after children face and we feel this also gives them great skills they will continue to use later on in their own lives. We have kept in touch with our looked after children and remain in contact with majority of them as they continue their journey, our children have built great friendships with them and we love to hear them asking about them. We hope to continue fostering throughout our lifetime. My grandparents are 65 years old and still welcoming children into our family.