This is what fostering means to one young woman, 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 Emily’s fostering story. Thank you for sharing it with us.
I remember very clearly the day I was taken into foster care as it was my sisters 8th birthday. I was 6 years old at the hospital with my mother when social services came to see me. I remember them taking me through the hall of the hospital and I saw my mother through the glass doors crying. They took me to the car and I remember feeling very upset and scared, not knowing what was going on. I was told we were going to school to get my sister and then we were going to be staying somewhere else for a few days. We collected my sister from school and then drove to the foster carers house.
When we got there we got out of the car and introduced us to the foster carers. My sister, being intrigued with the animals in the garden, went off to play with them as I stood there, very wary of my surroundings. As I got a bit more comfortable I edged further into the garden to pet the dogs that were there. Eventually, we went into the house and the social workers sat down with the foster carers for a while then said their goodbyes and left.
It was an odd couple of days getting used to a new place, it felt strange and unfamiliar. The foster carers seemed lovely at first. They would take us on holidays with them, we would go down to the caravan that they owned on a regular basis and met their families and friends. A few times I was placed on something called respite where I would go to stay with another foster family for a few days, the longest one I think was 2 weeks.
One foster family I remember clearly was Sally. I was placed on respite with Sally for a week but before I stayed there, I went to meet her one afternoon after school at her house with my social worker. I stayed with Sally, her husband at the time and her other foster child for the week and I remember thinking how lovely she was and how I would have loved to live with her. I would go everywhere with her like meeting her friends and family for coffees and shopping. It was like I was finally part of a proper family. When I left Sally’s house, she gave me a birthday present (as it was my birthday a week later) and I felt sad thinking I would never see her again.
I was 14 by this point and had started seeing my birth mother quite regularly by catching a taxi up to her house on the weekends, which wasn’t allowed. My sister had moved to a new foster family, so I felt alone and like I had nobody to talk to. I wasn’t getting on with my foster carers at this point, I wasn’t happy there at all.
One morning I woke in my fosters carers house and they told me we were going out but didn’t tell me where. I got dressed, gathered the most prized possessions that I could fit in my pocket and got in the car without asking questions.
We arrived at my social workers office and they came in with me without saying a word to me. They spoke to my social worker who was in the next room and left. My social worker was lovely, she explained what was going was on and that she needed to find a temporary placement for me until there was a long term one available.
It turned out that I ended up being placed back with Sally. I was thrilled, but I knew it was only meant to be temporary. Sally took me shopping to get all new clothes and possession as I left my previous house with just the clothes I was wearing and those few sentimental items that I’d manage to fit in my pocket. I pretty much had nothing. A few days later, my things were collected. Everything that I owned had been thrown into black bags, so Sally helped me sort it all out and choose what I wanted to keep. We went through everything together.
After a few weeks my social worker asked Sally if I could stay with them longer term as I was so happy there and she said yes. I was thrilled.
A lot of things happened over the years I was with Sally and she included me in everything like I was one of her own, which I am so grateful for. She supported me to apply for college and then for a job with RCT Council, which I succeeded in.
I’m 25 now and Sally and her, partner Phil have helped me come a long way in life. I will always count them as family. They were there for me when my mum sadly passed away. They helped me and my boyfriend move into our first home together, helped me through my pregnancy with my little girl, who is soon to be 2 and who only knows them as Nanny and Granddad and that’s the way it will always stay.
With experiencing what it was like with my previous foster carers I felt so lucky be placed with Sally on that day and so grateful that she said yes to me staying with her. I’m grateful for Phil also as, although he wasn’t there at the beginning of my journey with Sally, it feels like he’s been there from the beginning.
I couldn’t imagine my life without either of them or their loving families, who all welcomed me into their lives. They will always be the ones I turn too if I need help or just someone to talk to about anything. Although I’ve been through some really difficult times Sally and Phil have helped to change my life for the better and have shown me how Foster Carers can help change people’s lives, as I don’t know where I would be without them.
Posted on Thursday 20th May 2021