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Could I ?(5 Posts)
I've been considering fostering for a while but I'm not sure I could be an ideal candidate. Would anyone be honest?
Ok, so a brief back ground. I have 3 of my own children (7,5,3) and am currently a TA in a primary school.
My background (before the kids) was as a English Language teacher, mostly abroad. Then got married and had kids. Many years ago I went to uni, got my degree and then went off to live abroad for some years.
I separated from my H about a year and a half ago. It is fairly amicable and he still sees the children etc.
I'm very happy on my own and generally enjoy being busy and have also nearly finished my Level 3 in teaching and learning.
Really enjoy my TA job working with children from different backgrounds. Some with SEN and emotional needs. I work 30 hours per week and my youngest is in FT nursery. He goes to school next year.
I am not considering it as a an option imminently but I'd like to get an idea over the next year of what my options might be. I understand my other work commitments would have to change.
However, In the past i have suffered a bit with depression.(nothing too major, self harming or anything but still had some dark times) I don't feel depressed now and haven't really for the past 2 years and the separation wasn't as difficult for me as i thought it might be. I started a course, looked for work and moved to a new house with the children.
I do still take a small dose of ADs though which keep me above ground.
I think my best asset is being able to empathise and I enjoy watching difficult situations turned for the better.
However, at times i think I can 'overthink' and over empathise often leaving me going over things in my head and being angry or upset at people suffering ect. I have got better with this but in the past I might see something on TV , such as abuse situations or things going on in different countries and it would stick with me for days - playing the situation out in my head.
I lived in west Africa and SE Asia for a while where I saw incredible poverty and suffering and i think this was the point at which I stopped feeling sorry for myself and got myself into gear. It really helped with depressive thoughts too and I generally just feel lucky to have the life I have now.
So honestly, Could I or is this a bad idea?
Sorry about all the waffle -
I would recommend that if you really want to foster you should wait until your children are older.
Some children who come into care need a lot of looking after, and their needs will come before your own children's.
we waited until our youngest were teenagers before we decided to go ahead.
All of your experience will prepare you for fostering and maybe in time you will not need medication.
Personally I would not put yourself or your children under pressure yet, plenty of time in the future.
Thanks Cassimin, that's probably a good idea. I agree being this young they still need a lot of attention and I do need to consider their needs first.
It sounds like you have loads of experience to bring to fostering and it goes in your favour that you manage work, parenting and everything else well, despite struggling with mental health.
You're right about work commitments having to change - some agencies or Local Authorities like you to set a limit on how much you work, make it totally flexible or not work at all. I remember being told, 'Just because they're school age, doesn't mean they'll be in school.' And you have to think about contact with birth family, school meetings, review meetings, more meetings - you get the idea! There are a lot of time commitments beyond what you're used to with your own children. And some kids need you to be at home most of the time.
Regarding mental health, I am an approved foster carer with a history of severe mental health problems. I was not on any medication or in therapy when I applied. They wanted to know that I recognised my own symptoms, knew how to manage them and could ask for help and utilise my support network. Also that I had self-help and self-calming strategies in place. I think it can help you to understand children better but like you say, if you're more sensitive and empathetic you can dwell too much on their problems, and this can lead to secondary or vicarious trauma (look it up). They'll want to know that you can cope and that any triggers have been identified and you would know how to manage it if you got emotionally overwhelmed.
Sorry, that was very long.... good luck when you do decide to apply. The fostering team you speak to will answer all of your questions on the phone and in your home when you apply, so don't be afraid to ask.
Have you thought what type of fostering you would like to do. We took on two boys 9 years ago they were 7and 11, long term . Our own children were 6,9 and 14 and we thought they fitted in well with our own children's ages. I am not saying it's been easy but it has been rewarding and even now we are finding challenges but I think every child has their own challenges including birth children
We also started fostering 5years ago short term for under 5s.
There is also respite care which you could consider.
As for your mental health, it shouldn't be an issue. You would probably need a full medical during the approval assessment and your doctor would go over your history with you, and if they don't have any concerns it should be ok.
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