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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.

plainjayne123 Thu 24-Jan-13 21:57:19

Make your own mind up, don't be put off by scare stories and exaggerated truths. Foster carers are required for teenagers and babies most, and there will be newborn babies for placement, and if they are a good LA they won't put foster children older than your birth children.

sillymillyb Thu 24-Jan-13 22:04:53

Scare stories and exaggerated truths??

MoelFammau Thu 24-Jan-13 22:36:29

I feel I should point out here that I had a lousy childhood full of abuse, fear and pain. Crap childhoods aren't limited to those who grew up with foster siblings, it's across the board. I'm very very aware how important childhood is. I never had one. I was my mother's personal slave and punchbag.

I also know two friends who grew up with foster siblings and both have told me that it was tough but definitely they wouldn't have changed it. And it seems to have made them both into warm, kind-hearted women.... One of them is now applying to be a foster carer too - her daughter is 2.

My LA has specifically stated that they're short of carers for newborns and teens. There is a depressingly high number of babies being born to drug users and it's getting to crisis point with my LA. I appreciate it'll be different elsewhere but this is absolutely the case up here.

Thank you for the suggestion but no, I'm not into childminding. I'm not really interested in average kids from nice backgrounds. I find it very hard to relate to them, if I'm honest. On the other hand I hugely enjoyed every opportunity I've had so far in working with kids in the care system. I think there's an understanding there. It just works better.

I'm definitely taking on the points raised and thinking things through. I've not even applied yet, but I'm planning on attending an Intro Day next month to find out more. It still is something I'm very interested in.

bonnieslilsister Thu 24-Jan-13 23:19:56

sickofthesnow with respect just because you wouldn't foster with your own children doesn't mean other people shouldn't. Like plainjayne said people have to make their own mind up. Many foster carers on this forum have their own young children and it works well.

It is different sillymilly and rhubarb offering their experiences because they have lived as a child of foster carers. But even then I think you have to get things in perspective. You both had horrible childhoods and see this as due to the foster children but I would see it much more as due to your mother/parents who took in very troubled children and didnt monitor what was going on enough. Fgs sillymilly your mum took upto 6 foster children with little ones of her own shock and rhubarb your house was known as a childrens home and your mum allowed your vulnerable brother to share his bedroom with children who took advantage of him. It is ourageous and I am not surprised you feel as you do but it really doesnt have to be this way and absolutely shouldnt be this way. Your mums were proud they never sent a child away but really they should have been ashamed for all they allowed to happen to you by taking on more than they could possibly handle and not showing their love for you and making you their priority and stopping fostering because of what it was doing to you.

I'm sorry if anything I said upset you thanks wine or brew

THERhubarb Fri 25-Jan-13 10:28:05

plainjayne123 I found your last post deeply upsetting.

It seems to me that whilst many of you say you have taken these points on board, you have made up your minds, you think it will never happen to you, that you have it all covered and that you are going to do it anyway regardless.

You have heard from 2 people who grew up with foster children and 1 person who fosters children now. Yet these experiences are irrelevant?

I feel as though I have wasted my breath, my time and my emotions. I feel I am being called an exaggerator, someone who tells scare stories and someone who was just unlucky.

It has not been easy to post on this thread and reading such dismissive comments has been very hard.

bonnie, with all due respect the social workers knew that the foster children were sharing rooms not just with us but with my brother. They knew that my brother had severe learning difficulties. Not one of them spoke to us about my mother fostering. She wasn't just to blame, they were.

There is an attitude amongst some fosterers and that is one of needing to be needed. They want to feel special, that they are needed, that they are doing something for the greater good. Once that attitude sets in then nothing will stop them from fostering. No amount of warnings or pleas from their own children would stop them.

I think fostering is a great thing to do, it's of enormous benefit to the foster child and it's a worthy thing. But I would always question the motives of those who choose to do so whilst they have young children of their own.

I too am sorry if what I have said has upset or offended anyone. I just hope that some, just a tiny bit, of what we have said has sunk in.

That's all I can take from this thread.

THERhubarb Fri 25-Jan-13 10:38:23

Oh and Moel this rang alarm bells: "I'm not really interested in average kids from nice backgrounds. I find it very hard to relate to them, if I'm honest."

Be careful that you don't push your own child who is from a nice background away whilst you focus on the kid from a rough background who you can relate to more.

bonnieslilsister Fri 25-Jan-13 10:52:00

I would say the sw wouldn't know the effect it was having on you all if she wasn't told. Did the sw know your brother was having his room trashed and money stolen? Did your mum say at reviews the effect it was having on her own family? You were your mums responsibility first and foremost and she should have thought and realised the effect on you.

Its a big difference having a family of 6 and fostering 2 troubled children and bringing a fc into a family of one or two children. I honestly feel your mum had too much on and should not have been fostering from what you said. How could she know what was going on half the time?

Going back to your breast feeding analogy should women not breast feed because some find it hard?

Honestly I am really really sorry you have had a horrible childhood and also sorry this thread has upset you thanks

THERhubarb Fri 25-Jan-13 10:58:58

I haven't said women shouldn't breastfeed and people shouldn't foster. I have said that they need to know the harsh realities. This is no story book or Tracy Beaker programme. You set people up to fail if you don't tell them the truth.

And some of the posts on here make me think that no matter what impact fostering might have on their own very young children, they aren't prepared to listen to criticism and are just going to do it anyway. Not the right attitude I don't think. But what the hell do I know?

MoelFammau Fri 25-Jan-13 11:20:29

I found your comment about me potentially pushing away my own daughter pretty offensive, if I'm honest.

You had an appalling experience, anyone can see that. BUT it was several years ago (guessing over 10?) and practise has changed, as it has for adoption. The checks, the communication etc is all much much higher than it was then.

Also, I feel I'm repeating myself endlessly here but I'd only be able to take 1 very young baby. Nothing comparable to the 6 older kids your mother took.

FWIW, I heard all the scare stories about breast-feeding and was dreading the experience. I was told it'd hurt, that the baby wouldn't thrive, that I'd be ill... It was an absolute doddle for me. It never hurt beyond day 2, baby never dropped weight and I'm still doing it 20 months on (DD won't stop). My point being not everyone finds the same things tough.

I would say that no, you're not putting me off but you are giving me a lot of questions to ask during the Intro Day. So yes, your comments are very valuable to me.

I genuinely am sorry for your childhood experiences. But I do agree with others that your mother should bear the brunt of the blame. Never saying no to a child shouldn't be a point of pride.

amillionyears Fri 25-Jan-13 11:27:20

THERhubarb and sillymillyb, to me you have said extremely important stuff.
You have so not wasted your breath.

I wish I could have read both your posts before we fostered.
We probably would have still gone on to foster, but would have taken all your points on board regarding our own children.
They were older in our case. But they ended up with mixed feelings about it so we stopped fostering because of our children.

We sometimes think about fostering again, now none of them are here full time. DH wants to resume, I am not so sure. I feel older for one thing!

I would like plainjayne123 to explain her post further. Being charitable, perhaps she didnt mean her post to sound quite like, or as bad as it does?

amillionyears Fri 25-Jan-13 11:37:57

I am personally talking form 5 years ago experience, so I can see that things have changed somewhat involving keeping children more involved in the whole thing.

But I cant see it will have changed, regarding knowing what experiences the child will have seen ,witnessed and experienced. And how those experiences will manifest themselves, as regards the foster child's behaviour.
When a sw gets involved with a child, and the child is placed in care, with or without the parent's consent, a sw is often somewhat blind about that child.
And it is actually the foster mother who finds out things, and is then obligated to tell the social worker, not the other way round.

amillionyears Fri 25-Jan-13 11:40:07

I too dont want to put off anyone fostering.
I loved doing it.
And it can mean that you work from home.
But I also think that it should not be entered into lightly.

Fosterangel Fri 25-Jan-13 12:08:43

I am posting through tears. Your posts moved me more than words can say THERhubarb and SillymillyB. You are brave beyond words to have come through your experiences that were not of your choice or making with much understanding of your parents and their "need" to foster, and the often hidden risk to birth children that the SW's dismiss in order to place a foster child and put their needs first.

We fostered two little boys (age 2yrs and 3yrs) over 13yrs ago to adoption and then gave up for a number of years to let our own two bc's grow up. My own children were aged 10yrs and 14yrs at the time.

Our reason for giving up and waiting around 10yrs to reapply to foster? Many actually. But one reason was that we were asked to have the young foster babes Grandad in our home for contact on more than one occasion. We then found out from a previous foster carer to the foster children we had that their birth mother had disclosed to her that grandad had sexually abused her and she feared he had done the same with the foster babes. I had him in my home with my own children and I was not told. I know nothing happened as I am very vigilant and my own birth children were at school. Even so the risk was far too high and the fact that it was known by social services but not told to us was appaling.

Take from that what you will but these were our first and last foster children until 10yrs had passed and we felt our own birth children (now in their 20's) were old enough for us to do it again.

bonnieslilsister Fri 25-Jan-13 12:34:38

And for the sake of those considering fostering contact these days is in a contact centre so people like this man fosterangel is talking about wont be near your family.

amillionyears Fri 25-Jan-13 12:38:37

Do the parents still come round to a foster carer's own home, bonnie?

titchy Fri 25-Jan-13 12:44:22

But presumably your own bc would spend their days hanging round contact centres waiting for fc's parents who may or may not show up. Which might be worse than spending their days in nursery!

bonnieslilsister Fri 25-Jan-13 12:58:49

In our LA if a parent doesn't come to contact, they only get one chance. After that the parent has to turn up before the foster carer is due to leave her house and report in to the contact centre and the staff check they are sober etc. If they don't turn up or are drunk etc then we are phoned to say don't come. It works well.

You are never asked to have the family in your own home either. I do know someone who offered to have the teenage mum each morning to teach her how to parent but that came from the foster carer.

I have had a mum who was aggressive and argumentative and sw put on most of the transport so I didn't have to see her at all except at meetings. Also if I needed to do transport I didn't go into sw offices as I had a small child in the car and sw came out to meet me at the door. We usually went for a supermarket shop or lunch or soft play etc

Most things can be sorted if people are able to suggest an alternative. They really do nowadays want the foster family to be as happy as possible and stress free.

plainjayne123 Fri 25-Jan-13 13:03:24

What I meant was that to post repetitively terrible things that happened a long time ago in situations which would never exist now is not giving a true reflection of how things are now and what people may come across.
Just because I choose to do something I think is worthwhile doesn't make me needy, I really don't care what other people think about my motives for fostering, I do it because I see the happiness and experiences my birth children have and how they flourish and it kills me that some kids aren't given any chance to thrive or to be happy, and if I can do anything to make that a little bit better I will. My birth children know not everyone is as lucky as they are and I think that is valuable.

amillionyears Fri 25-Jan-13 13:17:10

I did have family in our home. I didnt mind. One of the parents wanted him in care. Perhaps each LA is different.

Fosterangel Fri 25-Jan-13 13:23:19

You will probably see from other threads I have joined that I do have concerns over how safe a fostering families' own birth children are. There is very little in place to ensure their safety other than their own birth parents being watchful and making sure that they do not feel pushed out in favour of a needy and damaged foster child.

I cannot see how healing can take place for the fostered child unless your own birth children are safe and loved and the centre of your universe so that the foster child can see fiercely protective, good quality parenting in action. An abused or neglected child needs to see and experience what they have probably never had. Instead foster carers find they are running around like the personal secretaries of the foster child! We do learn more from what we see than the words we hear. Our experience of fostering very young children (pre-school) was that their needs over-rode those of our own birth children. Not acceptable at that time. We could not see the sense in that as surely, we felt, the fostered child needs to mould themselves to fit with us not the other way round.

Close to my heart. Love to you both SillyMillyB and THERhubarb.

sillymillyb Fri 25-Jan-13 13:53:52

I must admit, I am done with this thread now I think.

plainjayne the "scare stories and exaggerated truths" are my life. MY LIFE. How dare you question that, or minimise it. If I had been raped in the street and came here to share my experience to try and help other people have insight, would you dare to say its a scare story?? I find your comment utterly insulting and hurtful and I hope you have more tact and sensitivity with your dealings with the children in your care.

Moel your comments worried me:
"I'm not really interested in average kids from nice backgrounds"
"I find it very hard to relate to them"
"I hugely enjoyed every opportunity I've had so far in working with kids in the care system"

What sticks out is the "I" part. I have huge respect for what you have been through, and that you want to help people - but you are not an "I", you have a small child - what does SHE want? What does SHE need? What is best for HER??

I had a shitty time with certain experiences. Those sort of things still happen, my mum still fosters, and we still hear what happens in her friends households. However, I do agree they are the extreme end of the scale.

My point, and also what rhubarb has said, is that the other aspects of living in a foster home have an effect too. There will always be comings and goings, sudden goodbyes, traumatic visitations, difficult behaviour. If you choose to expose your child to those risks then that is fine, and your decision, but you have here from many people a view and an insight that is trying to make your decision INFORMED.

I am now hiding this thread because I cannot bear some of the attitudes being bandied around. Life is too short, I truly wish those of you doing it / thinking about it luck. Fostering can be brilliant in the right situations, for the right families, with the right placements and support. That doesn't mean it is for everyone though no matter how much they would like it to be.

Fosterangel Fri 25-Jan-13 13:58:08

Just wanted to give a balanced view before I rush off to work!

Both my birth children are compassionate and well-rounded and I do believe that this is due to their experience of fostering two little ones to adoption. It was life changing for them as they learned to share and care for others more vulnerable than themselves.

You just need to weigh up the pro's & con's and take a balanced view!

MoelFammau Fri 25-Jan-13 14:44:47

With all due respect, sillymilly, I can't realistically say 'WE want to work with kids in care' when I don't know what my DD wants. I have to say 'I' to be fair.

Here is my background. I was home-educated. Which meant I was isolated on a mountain in the middle of nowhere with a mentally ill, abusive mother for 20 years. I received no education and was punished for seeking one. I was kept off-system and was refused all medical care including twice for serious concussion (aged 4 and 9) and for chronic rheumatism from age 9. My eyesight has been forever ruined by lack of intervention, same for teeth. My mother drove myself, my sisters and my father to the point of seriously contemplating suicide. Yet my mother was congratulated weekly by strangers saying 'oh how WONDERFUL, you must be such a great mother'. I will never home-educate my DD because my own experience was too traumatic. I just don't have a balanced view on it. HOWEVER, I know that home-education truly is a fantastic thing for many families. It just wasn't for me. I have written posts on home-ed threads that echo the ones you've generously (and with a huge amount of strength) written here, so I genuinely do understand some of your past and how it affects you now.

This is why I have an affinity with children in care. It's not some idealised Oliver Twist Disney fantasy. By all rights I should've been in care myself.

I'm not going to post any more here because I don't think it's helpful to keep raking through other people's pain. I appreciate all the comments both pro and against and will take ALL of them on board.

Thank you very much.

amillionyears Fri 25-Jan-13 18:12:15

I have looked up the collins definition of scare story. Nope, the accounts are not scare stories. Exaggerated truths? That is not on either.

And, with respect, I should imagine the same sort of thing is going on in at least a few foster homes.

THERhubarb Mon 28-Jan-13 12:55:36

This thread tells you what fostering is like TODAY. The carer has 2 birth children and is fostering 3 other children I think, one of whom is older than her birth children.

This is happening right now, not 5 or 10 years ago but now. So if you still think that fostering won't affect your birth children or that Social Workers don't give you children older than your own or that they will only let you have one or two children then read that thread.

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