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Becoming a Fosterer when you have a child

(85 Posts)
Boomerwang Sat 19-Jan-13 02:01:54

I'm interested in becoming a foster carer. I have one child of my own. She is 10 months old at the moment. I am able to have more children, but I feel an urge to love a child who is already in this world and perhaps isn't experiencing the love that I so readily give to my daughter.

Before I delve deeper into this world, I'd like to know a few basic expectations. I would appreciate any links or advice you guys could give me.

Thank you very much in advance.

lovesmileandlaugh Sat 19-Jan-13 19:49:37

Hi Boomerwang,

I can only talk as someone going through the application process with the LA, rather than someone with experience.

The thing that struck me about your post was that maybe you might be thinking more of adoption? It has been drummed into us that fostering is looking after somebody else's child and that although you care for them as part of the family, you shouldn't love them like your own children. After all, decisions will be made about them you have no control over, they don't stay forever, and you have to care for them in a different way to how you look after your own child.

However I have always wanted to foster, even when my children were babies. I want to be able to provide a stable happy, albeit temporary home for a child who needs it. But my advice would be to explore what your urge to love actually means. Others may disagree with me, but I think that it would be very hard to love (in the same way), a child who can leave you at any time. You would have your heart broken!

Good luck with whatever you decide. It is always worth ringing for an information pack from your local authority for more information on both fostering and adoption.

Best wishes, LSL x

bonnieslilsister Sun 20-Jan-13 00:51:57

I look on it slightly differently in that I feel able to love the children in my care as if they were my own but just without the promise of a shared future. I couldn't foster, personally, without doing this. Most of all, this is what the children need and when they are old enough this is what they notice is missing. I appreciate not everyone wants to work this way but I actually feel sad lovesmileandlaugh you have this advice drummed into you.

Op there are so many children needing your love thanks

lovesmileandlaugh Sun 20-Jan-13 08:21:13

It is really interesting to read the reality from foster carers rather than social workers Bonnie. As I said, we are still in the assessment process so soaking up the messages we are getting from the social workers.
I might have worded my post badly, I think love can mean a lot of different things. I suppose it is hard to define and means different things to different people. Our LA is quite risk-adverse, to protect against allegations to the carer, and also to protect the child.
How do you cope when a child goes or they are in a situation, for example, where they are having to go to contact and it is going badly? I don't know how I could cope if my birth children were going and I had no right to know them for the rest of their lives. I suppose to me, that is what defines the love that would be different!
Fostering has been sold to us as looking after, caring for someone else's child, rather than loving a child like your own. That isn't to say that they wouldn't be looked after, cared for or even loved (in some manner) within a family for that period of time.
Sorry to hijack your post OP!

Boomerwang Sun 20-Jan-13 09:17:29

It's not hijacking, it's offering perspective, which I sorely need.

I'll admit I'm probably just softened by advertising and reading too many books, and the reality might be a nightmare.

I'm worried about the effect introducing a new person might have on my child, but won't that be just the same as a new blood brother or sister?

Also, I have no idea of the costs involved in fostering, whereas I've read many stories of people spending thousands on adopting. I can't afford nor am willing to pay that kind of money to adopt a child when I can still bear my own children (and I'm thankful that I have that choice as I know many don't)

I think I can offer a decent upbringing. Perhaps not financially but certainly with support, affection and a structured and consistent lifestyle.

Do you have to have a certain level of income to foster? Do you have to be a SAHM? I would like to go back to work part time.

What are the major pitfalls, if any? Apart from the heartbreak when they leave. How much of an intrusion into your life are the authorities?

MoelFammau Sun 20-Jan-13 20:25:20

I'm watching this with interest. My own DD is 20mo and I'm very interested in fostering for the same reasons as the OP.

I've put my name down to attend the next introduction days by Barnardos and the LA (Glasgow) - is there anything like that coming up in your area?

As far as I know, Barnardos pays better than the LA (about £70 more per week here) but apparently the LA might be a better choice despite that because the LA has less gaps between placements. You only get paid if you have a child placed. Also, the LA here seems more likely to be flexible - they weren't fazed when I said I only had 2 bedrooms, they simply said 'well, beggars can't be choosers! It's the stability and the care that count'.

Just things to bear in mind. I'm happy for you to PM me if you like? I'm still in early, wobbly mode myself and it could be nice to bounce worries and info around. Up to you!

Boomerwang Mon 21-Jan-13 08:34:24

Thank you loads for that offer. When I give it some more thought I might pm you :D

lurcherlover Mon 21-Jan-13 09:03:28

Hi OP, I'm not a foster carer but I'm a teacher in a school with a lot of looked-after children so can offer a bit of perspective as I work daily with the kids. Fostering is fantastic, but be prepared for the effect it will have on your family and your child in particular - it definitely won't be the same as having another birth child. For one, unless you foster a newborn, a foster child would probably be older than your own child as she's still a baby. And foster children often come with a lot of issues - depending on why they're in foster care they may have been exposed to abuse, neglect, domestic violence, abandonment, drugs, foetal alcohol syndrome etc. Not all do, of course, but these are issues to be aware of. They may be very angry at being removed from their birth parents, even if it's temporary, and take that anger out on you. They are likely to be very sad and insecure.

I don't want to put you off, just to be realistic about some of the issues you may encounter. Fostering can be a fantastic experience and we have some children in school who are in long-term foster care with the same family and regard themselves as being part of that family.

Also, don't think adoption has to be expensive - if you wanted to adopt from overseas there would be costs involved, but that's not necessarily the case if you adopt in the UK.

Boomerwang Mon 21-Jan-13 09:38:50

Thank you for that smile I'll look into adoption as well now.

amillionyears Mon 21-Jan-13 09:46:26

I do know a little about this.
I would tread a little carefully.
I think the main thing that strikes me is that your little one is 10 months old.
I dont want to pry, but is there a chance you would be having any more children in the near future?

Boomerwang Mon 21-Jan-13 12:50:31

Adoption in Sweden is mostly done with families already living together, and extremely rare to adopt a baby. It looks like a lot of hoop jumping so I think I'll spend less time on that route.

I may have to ponder on all this a fair bit longer. I should wait for my daughter to grow a bit more first so that I can judge how much support she's going to need as she gets older.

Thank you so much for your help smile

plainjayne123 Mon 21-Jan-13 21:34:51

Hi, our LA will only allow you to have a child at least 2 years younger than your youngest birth child, so we waited until our youngest(of 2) was 2 then we had a newborn baby placed with us. He is still with us 2 years later and he will probably stay with us forever (long term fostering). You can choose just to have newborns if you want to move on to adoption which prevents behavioural issues impacting too much upon your family. I agree that you have to try to love them as you would birth children. I think the fostering allowance is a welcome addition to our family budget and of course you won't get that with adoption, and you will hopefully have the chance to help so many children who need a good home.

plainjayne123 Mon 21-Jan-13 21:37:22

You don't have to be a SAHM to foster but you would with a newborn of course

Boomerwang Tue 22-Jan-13 00:40:20

Is it a bad thing that I thought of fostering as being paid to love someone, and for adoption as having to pay out to love someone? I only care about money as far as making sure any child living with me has what he or she needs to live comfortably. If I had another child myself I'd think of the same thing, but there'd be no extra money for helping out.

Oh god I just realised how that sounded... like I don't want any more children of my own because I can have someone else's kid and be paid for it... that's not what I meant at all! But I am being honest about the money issue. Even if I wasn't thinking of fostering, I couldn't afford another child of my own. Well, I could, but it wouldn't be as comfortable to live as it is now.

I'm babbling. I'll shush.

MoelFammau Tue 22-Jan-13 02:38:30

Plainjayne123, can I ask how you manage holidays with a fostered baby? Are you expected to stay in the area...?

plainjayne123 Tue 22-Jan-13 13:14:01

Boomerwang - of course you would consider the financial aspects of fostering. I see myself as a professional, doing an extrememly rewarding job, and something I think is the most worthwhile thing I could do. I didn't want to return to my career after having 2 children and saw fostering as something that would allow me to be a SAHM but bringing in income and keeping me busy.
MoelFammau - I am not sure what you mean about holidays, why would you need to stay in the area? Foster carers are increasingly being encouraged to take foster children on holiday, but some get respite care to cover summer holiday.

MoelFammau Tue 22-Jan-13 13:27:19

PlainJayne - your reasons are exactly my reasons.

I was wondering about holidays because I assumed (obviously wrongly!) that the baby's birth mother would want to keep daily contact or something? Just wondered how it worked in practise, whether you could go away for a week or two on holiday once in a while. My DD is half German with family in Germany and the US, and I'd not want to prevent her from seeing them once a year.

Good to know this might not be the big issue I was making it into.

plainjayne123 Tue 22-Jan-13 13:53:36

Our foster child never had contact with family. You would be able to go on holiday with contact. Baby has relief foster carer whilst you are away if contact cannot be interrupted for some reason.

amillionyears Tue 22-Jan-13 15:44:09

op, it is natural to think about the money applications.
I do think you also need to bear in mind that adoptions are hopefully for life, but fostering is often much more short term.
The child or children that are fostered often still have lots of contact with their birth familes plus relatives.

THERhubarb Tue 22-Jan-13 15:57:52

I had to contribute to this. My mother was a fosterer and still is. Please do think about it carefully. Don't be offended by what I am about to write, it is my experience and I am aware that you may well have very noble reasons to foster but fwiw here's my tuppence:

Do not foster if you only care about money or want the attention of people congratulating you on fostering. Do it for the right reasons and tell only those you have to so that you don't slide into a pit of self-congratulation.

Do take your child's feelings into account. As she gets older she may not want to share her room with other children who steal her toys, break her things and make a mess. It's one thing putting up with a sibling but quite another to put up with a child who is troubled and who takes some of that angst out on you and your belongings.

Do not make excuses for your foster child's behaviour, treat them as you would a child of your own.

Do not force your child to make friends with every foster child who comes through the door. This is not always doable.

Put your own child first. These children may have problems but if you are not careful, your own child may grow up with problems from feeling second best and thinking she will only gain attention if she suffers some kind of crisis.

Remember that fostering does not just impact on you but the whole family and so involve them all in your decision and should your child tell you in the future that she is not happy with your decision to foster then take her feelings into consideration and listen to her concerns. Never make her feel guilty for wanting her own space or her parents all to herself from time to time.

amillionyears Tue 22-Jan-13 16:44:52

Very good points THERhubarb.

You also have to bear in mind that you may see very little of the foster child after they leave you,for various reasons, which can be hard on you and your own children.

THERhubarb Tue 22-Jan-13 17:08:43

And you may have various relatives showing up to visit, not always at scheduled times.
The child may well be distressed/highly strung after such a visit.
Yes they can go on holiday with the family and you can also get another foster carer to have them for a week or two if you need time with just your own family.
Some kids get adopted, others go back to their families.
You might be told you will have a child for 3 months and then still have that child 3 years later.
You might bring up a child from the age of 3 until the age of 16 and never see them again.

Whatever you decide, remember that your own child must always come first.

MoelFammau Tue 22-Jan-13 20:43:27

All really good points. Thank you for posting.

No, I'm not in it for money or self-congratulation. I'm interested because I had a lousy childhood and now work in a high pressured job where I miss my daughter too much. I've always been interested in working with children in care (and have enjoyed it immensely on the occasions that I have) and I see fostering as a way of working one-to-one with a child and doing something worthwhile (my career is horribly shallow) while also staying home and giving my daughter a better life than being stuck in nursery 5 days a week.

The money does matter because it has to support my daughter and I. But not in a way that I want to run a baby farm! I'm very happy to take a huge decrease in wages to do this, I only need enough to get by, not to make any profit.

I really appreciate all the points of view I'm getting on this board.

sillymillyb Tue 22-Jan-13 21:44:26

I have had to post on this thread, I hope I don't upset anyone - I really don't mean any offence to current foster carers.

I am the natural born child of a foster carer, and I have to second a lot of what therhubarb says.

Put your own child first - no matter what. You are exposing them (especially when they are older) to all sorts of outside elements that you would normally shield children from (neglect, abuse, violence, paedophilia) and you have to expect that to have an effect on them to some degree.

I was sexually abused by one foster brother, have been beaten up by others, had my toys as a young child broken / stolen / taken from me for fun. Fostering has literally torn my family apart - my eldest brother no longer speaks to my mum, and it has taken years of therapy for me to have a relationship with her.

Fostering is amazing when it goes right, but not at the sacrifice to your own children - and I think when you are in that situation its hard to keep them at the fore front of your decisions as you have other peoples needs to consider too.

Also, having a sibling is completley different - they are there to stay, so no constant change in your house of people coming and going, getting attached and having to say goodbye etc.

Again, I hope I haven't upset anyone, but I couldn't not post.

amillionyears Tue 22-Jan-13 21:53:29

I for one am very glad you have posted.
I have to say, that when my DH and I did the training, as yes, we were foster parents for a time, with children of our own at home too, that that is the worst critism that we had. And we didnt have very many.

It was, that apart from one meeting that the sw had with our children alone, that is virtually all the information and trainging any of us had on that particular aspect.
It should and ought to have been far more.
I dont know if that particular issue has changed in the few years since, or not.

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