A young Kayleigh with her foster parents Pat and Stuart
As Foster Care Fortnight 2020 draws to a close, we wanted to leave you with an open, honest and moving account of what #ThisIsFostering means to one young women. Her experience in foster care and the profound effect that carers had on her life is all we need to say to anyone who is thinking about becoming a foster carer.
This is Kayleigh’s fostering story. Thank you for sharing it with us.
“I first came into care at the age of 6 and a half. I clearly remember the day I was collected by police officers and taken to the station where I had to wait for a suitable foster home. I felt scared initially, but as soon as I saw my foster carers, Pat and Stuart, I felt at ease immediately.
The night I was taken into foster care, I was outside playing with one of my friends from the same street, I remember hearing a noise from my house and then seeing a police car enter the street. My mother had put some of my clothing into a black bag and into the police car. I was then taken away.
I had no idea what was happening, it was quite scary being taken away from my mam and not knowing why. The police officer could see I was scared and to try and make me feel better he flashed the blue lights for me, I thought this was pretty cool.
When I got to the police station I was sat in a room waiting, I wasn’t sure what I was waiting for, but the police officer reassured me that things will be okay. He also bought me a KitKat (the big one) – I was super chuffed.
After being at the police station for about an hour, two people came into the room and asked me about myself. I was then informed that I will be going home with these people for 1 night while a more suitable placement could be found.
In the car on my way to Pat and Stuart’s home, Stuart kept cracking jokes to make me feel better, as they could also see I was scared. Once we got to the house, I was taken in and shown around, I was showed my room – it was pink with matching curtains and bedding. The next morning, Pat took me to ASDA where I was bought all new clothes and a new dressing gown (as mine was dirty and grubby).
The entire time I was with Pat and Stuart, I always felt at ease. It was so scary being taken away from my Mam and going to live with strangers and not knowing why, but they always made me feel safe – and Stuart always made me laugh with his terrible jokes.
I was meant to stay with Pat and Stuart for just 1 night so a more suitable placement could be found as they were short term carers and not long term. 17 years later and Pat can’t get rid of me!
My brother was also taken into foster care a few months before I was – he was living with foster carers elsewhere but he often came to visit me at Pat and Stuart’s house and would sometimes stay the weekend.
There were some problems with his foster placement and Pat and Stuart could see how close we were, and hated seeing us say goodbye after every visit. As Pat and Stuart had a spare room, Children’s Services asked if they would take him in too.
This made me feel much better about being away from my Mam. Me and my brother were very close when we lived with our parents and even more so when he came to live with me at Pat and Stuarts.
Pat and Stuart took us on many holidays, we went to America twice, we had a caravan in Spain where we would stay throughout the summer holidays, and we also had a caravan in Tenby. We were included in family events, birthdays and weddings.
Unfortunately, as my brother got older, things became problematic and didn’t work out anymore. I think he was 15 when he left Pat and Stuart and went to live with foster carers in elsewhere. This made me so upset having to say goodbye to my brother, but I knew it was for the best. It wasn’t all bad because I did still see him in school and regularly on weekends.
Being taken away from your Mam at any age isn’t easy, but especially being as young as I was, however, I couldn’t have been any luckier to have been brought up by the most amazing family. Pat and Stuart would often talk to me about my real parents and keep me updated growing up. However as I got older, I made the decision to cut contact with my birth parents.
Pat and Stuart were there for me through everything. Along with their family, they would help me with revising for my exams, applying for college and applying for jobs.
When I had my GCSE Results, Pat and Stuart expressed how proud of me they were and took me out for food at an Italian restaurant.
It wasn’t always easy, we would often have disagreements, but I was still always supported, especially when I applied for a traineeship with RCT Council, who I am now employed with full time.
When I was 20, me and my boyfriend decided we were ready to move in together and rented a house. Pat and Stuart were very supportive of this and helped me pack up my room and take my furniture to the new house. We moved in during November 2017 but I would often come back to Pat and Stuart’s on a Sunday to join the family for a cooked dinner.
In August 2018 I found out I was expecting a baby, however things with me and the baby’s father were not great and Pat and Stuart would always keep in touch with me to make sure I was okay. Me and my boyfriend decided to end our relationship at the end of September 2018. Pat kept in touch with me daily through this as she was aware I was now living on my own, far away from all the family.
We went shopping one day and Pat bought me some maternity clothes. We went back to Pat and Stuarts for a cup of tea where Stuart suggested it may be better for me if I came back to live with them and drove me up to my house so I could pick up my cat for us to stay with them that night. In October 2018, I returned home. Pat and Stuart’s family helped me pack up the house.
On 25th March 2019, Stuart was taken to A&E as he was experiencing pain in his back and legs. He stayed in hospital for over a week and I would visit him daily after work. Unfortunately, on 2nd April 2019, he passed away, with myself and our family at his bedside. This was the hardest time of my life as I classed Stuart as my father, grandfather, teacher and best friend all in one.
By this time, I was almost at full term with my pregnancy. Stuart passed away on 2nd April and Tommy was born on 20th.
Pat and Stuart had booked to go away to America (before they knew I was expecting) with their middle daughter and her children and Pat and her daughter decided to go ahead with the holiday. As I was now 40 weeks pregnant and Pat was worried about me being at home on my own, Pat’s youngest daughter, Sarah, asked if I wanted to stay with her while Pat was away. Pat flew to America on 19th April and I moved in with Sarah the same day. On 20th April, Tommy was born. Sarah was my birthing partner. We messaged Pat in America to inform them of the news.
I am still a full time RCT Council employee and a full time single mam to my beautiful son, Tommy. Tommy is my absolute world and I cannot imagine life without him. My parenting skills were definitely helped by the way I was brought up by Pat and Stuart and their family. Pat picks Tommy up form nursery so I can continue to work full time. She loves him as she loves her own grandchildren.
Over a year on, I still wait for Stuart to fall through the door with his bag of shopping – losing Stuart is something I will never get over, but I just continue to make him proud of me as he always said he was. I know he will be looking down on me and Tommy, proud as ever.
Pat is very active in Tommy’s life, and she is Gramma to him. It’s nice that even though I don’t keep in touch with my real parents, Tommy still has the family I would have always wanted for my child. He has 3 aunties, 1 uncle and 4 cousins who love him so much.
I dread to think how my life would have turned out if I had not been taken into foster care. Pat and Stuart showed me how a family should be – being an amazing Mam to Tommy is my number one priority, and that is down to Pat and Stuarts nurturing and love they showed me.”
#ThisIsFostering #FCF20 #FosterForYourCouncil
Posted on Sunday 24th May 2020