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Honest feedback on how Fostering affects your life

(28 Posts)
Cambam2010 Fri 12-Oct-18 13:39:40

Please can you give me a no-frills answer as to how fostering affects your life - both the positives and the negatives?

I have worked in an office for the past 10 years, my role will become redundant next summer. I really do not want to go in to another office role and would like something completely different to do.

I am 40, privately rent, live with my partner of 5 years and have a 9 year old son.

I am considering whether I would be suitable to be a foster carer and the impact that this would have on our lives. It is something that I have thought about for a few years and the redundancy is forcing my hand to make future decisions so I would really appreciate any comments that you could offer as to how you have found fostering.

OP’s posts: |
iwillkeepthishouseclean Wed 17-Oct-18 13:23:39

I'm not sure that anyone can respond to this without really knowing you or what kind of support you have I can only tell you my perspective

I love being a foster carer it makes
Me smile and has brought more joy and love into my home, has made me aware of others behaviours and how a person even from in
The womb can be affected by the environment around them ..

In saying that it is exhausting
No weekends off
You can at times not want to be in your own home and have to walk on eggs shelves especially with highly stroppy teenage behaviours

It is like living in a fish bowl social services have standards you are expected
To meet and children are not shy of asking or complaining In regards to that

You need lots and lots of patience and be open to behaviours you may have never experienced ...

There is a lot of reporting and travelling and you will need to be aware of this

In saying all the above I have been a foster carers for eight years and have never looked back apart from occasional days and school holiday 😬😬😬

redwineandcrisps Wed 17-Oct-18 13:42:42

My parents fostered mine and my brothers whole lives (we are now adults) and we have all been deeply affected by it. I was raped / sexually and physically abused by a foster brother for several years. We had another foster child try and burn down our house. My eldest brother hasn’t had a relationship with my mum for 10 years now because he feels she prioritised other people’s children over her own. I know our family sounds extreme, but you are inviting children who have been disturbed into your home and expecting your own child not to be affected by that. I Have commented on threads like this before and been shot down by people who foster, I genuinely don’t want to cause upset to anyone, but I would be lying if I didn’t say it had torn our family apart and we all struggle with the long lasting effects of it even now.

StylishMummy Wed 17-Oct-18 13:48:41

I'm following with interest as we're seriously considering starting the process.

@redwineandcrisps I'm so so sorry to hear of your experiences, do you mind me asking HOW this was allowed to happen to you!? I have 2 DC and would be terrified of the prospect

redwineandcrisps Wed 17-Oct-18 14:20:34

@stylishMummy it was a combination of things really - you can’t watch everyone, all of the time. My parents were (ironically!) very experienced and we changed to a private charity who specialises in large sibling groups - we had 5 foster children at one time, alongside the 3 of us also at home. It’s fighting fires to a degree, whoever shouts up loudest gets the attention! My parents knew about certain incidents - I was beaten with a wooden bar but it was sort of passed off as normal kids being kids behaviour (Even though I ended up in hospital)

We often had the police at our house too - truancy, asbo, fighting, stealing type offences. Other parents wouldn’t let their kids play with us because we were all tarred with the same brush to a degree.

I know I sound negative, the positive parts from fostering are that I am very good at talking to any one and am very self sufficient. My ability to diffuse a situation is also second to none! I know there are people a lot worse off than me too, which gives me perspective when the going gets tough flowers

HollowTalk Wed 17-Oct-18 14:26:19

That was crazy, that you went from a family with 3 kids to one with 8. Who would be able to cope with that? It's awful that you were put in that situation.

wizzywig Wed 17-Oct-18 14:29:06

Is there pressure put on foster parents to be absolutely perfect? Eg, homecooked well-balanced meals everyday, spotless house, always eating together, etc etc?

HollowTalk Wed 17-Oct-18 14:29:33

My sister fosters, OP. One thing you have to consider is this. At the moment, you work in an office and finish at a set hour. After that it's just you and your partner and your child.

Fostering means you will very rarely ever be that little threesome again. Your child will have to share you and the children who he'll be sharing with will be much more needy and more demanding. Your relationship will change with your child. You will never have that freedom with your partner again. Your relationship will change.

You are never off duty. You won't get a pension. You will be criticised and found wanting. You can't take days off sick. You can't go anywhere with just your partner and child.

It alters your life completely.

HollowTalk Wed 17-Oct-18 14:29:59

There are spot checks, wizzy.

redwineandcrisps Wed 17-Oct-18 14:32:06

Hollowtalk, my parents had always fostered but usually only 2-3 more kids alongside us. And that was short term fostering so the kids changed regularly (again unsettling!) we then swopped to 5 long term children. I struggled a lot with jealousy at that point, because long term children develop more of a bond with their care givers. In the past as well it had always been OUR house and they were visiting, once they were long term placements it was their home too and I found that lack of, I don’t know, boundary really hard. I know I sound like a cow, the kids were really from horrific backgrounds and needed help, but it was very much at our sacrifice.

Shockers Wed 17-Oct-18 14:34:44

The three years we fostered were three of the happiest of my life. We stopped because we adopted two of our charges and felt further loss (the coming and going of foster siblings) would be too much trauma for them.

We fostered ages 0-3.

HollowTalk Wed 17-Oct-18 14:37:27

But did you have children of your own at the time, Shockers?

HollowTalk Wed 17-Oct-18 14:38:20

You don't sound like a cow at all, @redwineandcrisps. It must have been incredibly hard for you.

Cassimin Wed 17-Oct-18 14:58:43

We foster.
We waited until our youngest was 13 and am glad we did.
Our own children have definitely had to put up with a lot.
We have one child with us long term. They came aged 4 and have been with us 7 years.
Came with no diagnosis and has since been diagnosed with ASD and ADHD.
As others have said it’s very hard.
No time off, you can have holidays if you place them in respite( not encouraged) but you feel guilty leaving them.
You are constantly being looked at and given ‘advice’ by social worker, who soon realise that you have already tried all their ideas and they don’t work. Constantly fighting to get all your child’s needs met, attending meeting after meeting to ensure their health/education is up to speck.
We would never give up on our child but if I knew now how difficult it was and how it would affect the life of my whole family I would probably not do it.

Exfostercarer Wed 17-Oct-18 15:32:01

We didn't foster til our own sons were in their teens, and had a number of short term and long term placements, from 8 yrs to when they left as adults. The bad first - it was a shock to our own children. They never had any time alone with us, and from morning til night, day in day out had to share their home and parents with other children. Although we saw the profiles (unless it was an emergency placement) of the children we looked after, the children often bore no resemblance to their profile. A child who was supposed to love animals was physically violent to our cat and dog. We had constant theft from some children which meant that everything had to be locked away at all times in our bedroom.

A boy who we knew had been a victim of sexual abuse was in fact the perpetrator and had abused his sister and other children in the previous foster home. It took nearly two months for social services to find a safer foster home for him, with no other children who,could be at risk from him, and the day he moved there he sexually assaulted the female carer.

We have had children who bring drugs here, who smash the place up and who abscond constantly. We did not have respite from the childREN we looked after which meant the first family holiday we had was when we had retired from fostering.

The good has been that we have had some lovely children who stayed until they were 18 and are in contact still. They have gone onto do well in their lives and we are very proud of them. Would I do it again? No.

MerryInthechelseahotel Wed 17-Oct-18 19:42:20

I've fostered for about 9 years now. I both love and hate it tbh. The best times have been fostering babies from birth as although they may have problems ie withdrawing from drugs (very common) they don't come with any behavioural issues. Everything pp's have said are true. However I have met some amazing children and some I will always be in touch with whatever happens.

It's really hard with your own young children. Especially when they whisper to you "mum I really don't want to foster anymore".

I'm really ready to stop fostering now. I've had a run of difficult placements and I've lost my energy but I still would not want to put anyone off from fostering just think carefully about it before you start.

I think it's much easier to welcome one child into your family than 2 or 3. More than one and it's like your family has been taken over!

greathat Wed 17-Oct-18 22:20:38

I admire those that do it but have heard such horror stories that I never could. I don't know how it works but can people do respite care for children with disabilities

iwillkeepthishouseclean Thu 18-Oct-18 18:45:39

After reading these posts
I asked my 20 year
Old daughter she admits she did get jealous when she was younger but fostering has enriched her life .
She is now working in child services
And considering becoming a social worker....

KatyP1975 Sat 20-Oct-18 13:29:47

Fostering doesn't just affect your life, it IS your life. It's not just a job, it's constant and relentless. You can't just 'fancy' being a foster carer, it needs to be your calling. Regarding fostering along side birth children.. The key to success is only having children younger (at least 2 years), careful matching, not overloading yourself with too many kids (we only have 2 fostered maximum, no exceptions) and having quality 1-to-1 time with your birth children. It also helps to have a big house and there is plenty of room for my kids to escape too if my borrowed ones are becoming too much.

Shockers Sat 20-Oct-18 13:52:23

@HollowTalk, yes I had a son who was 10 when we started to foster. We did have a few moments of jealousy from him, and from one of the children we fostered (she was almost 5 when she left us to be adopted), but on the whole he enjoyed having the babies around. He was very sad when that particular little girl and her brother left us, as were we all, but we worked through it as a family, and we still had two others to care for, as well as him.

He thinks of the two we adopted totally as his true siblings, and they love him completely too. The youngest is 18 now and I sometimes wonder whether to go back to fostering, but DH is resistant because he says we have our lives back now they’re all grown up. I don’t feel the same; the kids were my life, but I’m not dependent upon them to have one iyswim, so onwards and upwards.

I do still work with traumatised children and I can see how difficult it might be for some of them to feel worthy of care, belief and nurture. Would you have the emotional resources to be in that struggle for the long term? They could, and undoubtedly will, test your commitment.

Bestseller Sat 20-Oct-18 13:57:30

Is it usual to foster while you have young children of your own?

I have a friend who fosters teens and does amazing work with them. Her own children are adults though, I can't imagine exposing my own young children (or teens) to the kind of behaviour she has to deal with or the risks redwineandcrsips experienced

KatyP1975 Sat 20-Oct-18 17:31:37

Bestseller you need to be really careful with matching. Not all children in care have behaviour issues. We have family discussions between each placement to make sure everyone is happy to keep going. And supervision is VITAL. My children know what's appropriate and what to report to me.

DamnedinDevon Sun 21-Oct-18 15:29:22

I am three months into a foster placement (having turned down the option of an SGO) for a the 9 year old child of my DH's niece. We are empty nesters (two grown up kids, mine, not his) and would not have considered fostering but for the fact that no-one closer to the girl was willing to take her child after removal by police and social services.

Neither of us had any real relationship with the child or their mum (they live a couple of counties away)but its family right? That was our reason - helping out when we were needed. We have passed all the tests, jumped through all the hoops and are just awaiting panel. But...

It's hard. Really hard. I feel like I am having to come up with an Oscar winning performance of the big-hearted, caring and considerate best ever listener, friend, mum and teacher. I know - don't expect so much from yourself (or conversely "what the hell did you expect?!"). At least with the former the answer is easy - it's a job, you are paid an allowance (not allowed to call it wages). I have never done anything but the best I can throughout my career. Now retired (blissfully early) my work ethic hasn't changed. Therein lies the problem! Perhaps it might be easier if we weren't related to the mum. Perhaps the rest of DH's family would be more supportive if they weren't feeling so guilty for allowing the neglect to happen in the first place. They saw the child almost every fortnight for years, even had the child stay over for days at a time and never noticed that he was ridiculously underweight and bruised?!

Fostering takes over your home and your life. Even the simple act of reading a bedtime story is fraught with problems and even breaking rules (you find yourself in the bedroom alone with the child because you and OH are taking turns). I could say the usual, it's not for the faint hearted but it can be incredibly rewarding etc etc.

Sorry - I know it can be positive. Small breakthroughs (a whole night's sleep with only one light on) are amazing but somehow, today at least, they are not making up for the constant emotional drain on my Dh and I.

Devilishpyjamas Sun 21-Oct-18 15:36:37

I think it would be really hard with your own children. I haven’t fostered but my eldest son is severely disabled with physically challenging behaviours and that has been very difficult for his siblings.

I think if I was to do it (have pondered at times), I would look at respite fostering for children with disabilities. Or I would look at the shared lives scheme (adults with disabilities) - have heard of lots of positives with that scheme.

Cassimin Mon 22-Oct-18 08:55:46

Katy, unfortunately not all issues are known when the children come into care. Our F.C. came at 4 with no issues at all. It was only after everything calmed down that we realised they had a disability and this was the way they would be forever.
We felt that we invited this child into our home and would not give up on them, our Sw said that if we didn’t keep them they would probably end up in residential. We couldn’t have this on our conscience.
I know of lots of placement break downs, we’ve even cared for adoption breakdowns so even if you do try your best to get all the info on the child and try your hardest to get a good match and care for the child, sometimes it just won’t work.
On the other hand some Carers are not as tolerant as others and behaviours that one can’t cope with do not seem so bad to another.

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