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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.

ColG Thu 25-Apr-13 15:21:12

I've found this very useful to read, especially the real life experiences of TheRhubarb and SillyMilly - thank you so much for sharing.
Over the years I have thought on and off about fostering, and now that my youngest is almost 14 I'm looking into it again.
My biggest fear has always been about the effect it will have on my kids, so I really believe that I will always put them first.

Bumble86 Wed 24-Apr-13 14:02:19

Firstly, I hope no-one minds that I am commenting, it is not intended to open up wounds. I did however go looking for a topic/thread such as this and I decided to read all of the posts.

Our family includes our bd who is 18 months old, she has had me as her main carer since birth.

I am definitely considering a lot of what has been posted, some may not think this right or balanced, but we don't wish to wait another 10,15 or 20 years. If we didn't take great risk then would anyone ever foster? There is a real shortage.

We are not applying to foster because I can't have more children, we want to make this our life, my career and believe we have chosen the right IFA for us.

Our bd won't be able to immediately tell us how she feels, but we will respond to her and definitely allow the opportunity for expression as she grows.

Everyone is individual and I respect the fact that others are entitled to disagree.

MoelFammau Tue 29-Jan-13 21:53:56

That's a great post, Rhubarb.

THERhubarb Tue 29-Jan-13 09:43:15

I'm pleased you came to the right decision Boomerang. I also think that with your first child under 1 you really don't have perhaps enough experience of parenting just yet. I advise that you make the most of your child, that you surround her with love and perhaps take up childminding so that you build up your experience of children (not all children who live with their parents come from 'normal' backgrounds so you will have to deal with challenging behaviour in some form).

Once your child gets older, if you still want to foster then perhaps include your dd in your decision and get her views on it.

You are obviously a very caring and loving person with a lot to give and your dd is very lucky to have you as her mum smile

My next door neighbour is now a foster carer. Her own children have grown up and left home. She signed up for short term fostering, has a 4yr old with her at the moment and has agreed to care for her until she turns 16. She also fosters a baby. The baby has regular visits, in my neighbour's home, by his birth mum.

Every local authority is different and whilst some may advocate meetings in a staffed centre, others don't have the facilities and will encourage visits to take place at the carer's home. Likewise some authorities may have a few children under 1 on their books whilst others may be desperate for placements for older children. It pays to do the research with regards to your OWN local authority and also talk to other foster carers in your area to discover what their experiences are.

It is a worthwhile thing to do and it gives children the chance to experience a caring home environment but that should not be at the expense of your own children. If it works for some then that is brilliant but it's not a situation that would work for everyone and certainly is not something that you should go into thinking that all will be rosy and bright. You have to consider the worst case scenarios too.

I think that plainjayne's dismissive and offensive attitude is worrying and I wonder plainjayne how open you would be if your children did ask you to stop fostering. Would you be as equally dismissive of them and their concerns as you are with ours?

Boomerwang Mon 28-Jan-13 21:54:18

Sorry I haven't checked this thread for a while. The responses on here have been brilliant (apart from PlainJayne hmm

I have decided based on this thread that I would not be cut out for fostering. I'm not the sort who can solve problems easily by myself. I call out for my boyfriend's help if my own child is sick on me!

sillymillyb Mon 28-Jan-13 21:47:51

moel said our earlier examples did not apply to her, I agreed and pointed out the factors that did. what is desperate about that?

a million, I considered reporting plainjayne to mnhq too, however her comments speak volumes about herself, and perhaps it's best that everyone can see what she truly thinks. I'd love her to take a look at the we believe you campaign mind, not that I have any hope she would take it on board.

amillionyears Mon 28-Jan-13 21:30:51

I feel you are lacking some compassion.
And understanding.

Your use of the words scare stories is wrong.

And accusing people of exagerated truths, when you dont know the posters,
isnt right either.

I think it may be time for MNHQ.

plainjayne123 Mon 28-Jan-13 21:21:34

sillymillyb you are beginning to sound desperate!! Your arguments are now getting silly and have already been covered many times in this thread.
It can be great to foster with birth children, mine love it and lots of others do as well.

sillymillyb Mon 28-Jan-13 20:00:16

You are correct Moel if you only have babies up to 12 months then you will not face the issues we have outlined above.

However, it is a slippery slope and I cannot see either a) there being enough under 1year olds to keep you in a steady stream of them nor b) social services not encouraging you to find a way to have older children.

That aside, the issues facing your daughter should you only have under 1's are that she will have to share her mum - babies are time consuming, she will have to come second best to their needs because at times, babies cannot wait where as older children can.

Visitations - she will be exposed to potentially unsavoury relatives (either at your home or in a contact centre) She will have to wait around while contact takes place - in young children this can be very regular.

The constant influx of babies she has grown to love coming and going as they either grow too old for your 12 month age restriction, return home or are adopted.

As I have said above, if you only have under ones, you are right, the issues we have outlined in earlier posts are unlikely to be relevant to yourself - that still doesn't mean that your dd will be untouched by the situation though, just that there are different consequences.

MoelFammau Mon 28-Jan-13 14:06:21

Thank you Rhubarb. Again though, I have to point out that in my case I can only offer my own room for a foster child so I am forced to have one child (or 2 siblings) under 12 months whether I want this or not. This is what the LA has told me is acceptable for them.

I feel all your examples of 'bad experiences' involve much older, multiple children. Which is what I won't be getting due to my living situation.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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 13:23:19

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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