Our Fostering Journey
In June last year, a recruitment post for Evergreen Foster Care popped up on my Facebook. I saw it but at first I dismissed it. Not because it was of no interest to me, but because of our ages. I was 58 and my husband was 59!
Having not been able to have children of my own, adoption or fostering was something I had always considered. I showed my husband the recruitment post. He immediately said “why don’t you go for it, I know it is something you would love, and you would be amazing at it!” I hesitated because I did not want to apply, only to be told that we were considered to be too old.
Lo and behold, the Evergreen recruitment post kept popping up on my Facebook page. At the beginning of July, I gave myself the push I needed. I sent an email to Evergreen explaining a little bit about ourselves. I gave our ages and that we would fully understand if we did not fit the criteria, but that we were still really interested in becoming foster carers.
In all honesty I did not even expect a reply. So when Evergreen contacted me the same day, I was amazed. I was asked whether an Evergreen Supervising Social Worker would be able to meet us and have an informal chat.
I was rather excited, as was my husband! However, we didn’t get our hopes up. Two days later, the Supervising Social Worker, Louise, came to visit. She was not only pleasant and informative, but she seemed to be incredibly positive about our chance to become foster carers. Our ages, the fact we had 4 dogs, and even though my husband was the only one that had parented before, was not held against us. Louise observed our home, gave us lots of information, and left us with a thorough application form to complete.
Louise left us feeling rather positive and hopeful! We were given the opportunity to join a 3-day ‘Introduction into Fostering’ course commencing at the end of July.
When I began filling in the application form, I was concerned because a lot of information about my past was required, which brought back some painful memories. My life experiences have not always been positive. I was now expected to share it all with people that I did not know!
I spoke to my husband about how I felt. It was going to be extremely hard to delve into my past. I was also worried I may be rejected once Evergreen had seen what I had been through. My husband said he would understand if I felt I could not share my past experiences. However he also felt that I was going to miss out on doing something I had wanted to do for such a long time. He left it up to me to decide what was best for us.
After sleeping on it, I decided not to go through with my application. I was so pleased that Louise called me to discuss my reservations. She suggested that because my life had been difficult and I had successfully overcome personal challenges, I may be in a good position to empathise with, and understand, a Foster Child’s own difficult experiences.
She suggested that my husband and I should attend the training before making any further decisions. I was very grateful for this.
The training day arrived! We both felt apprehensive about attending, and what we might have to do. We need not have been! Everyone was really pleasant and probably just as nervous as we were. The trainers were Louise, our Supervising Social Worker, and Clare, the Evergreen Fostering Manager.
The day was so positive and informative! We were able to ask a lot of questions. We learnt about the background of Evergreen Foster Care and their ethos and model for the fostering of a child. We loved the whole day and could not wait until the following Saturday’s training. We were so glad that we attended!
We completed the application form, completed the training, and started building towards the assessment for our suitability to be Foster Carers.
As part of the assessment, we both had a full medical examination, and other checks including an independent assessment of our pet dogs. Some of the checks caused some delays as I am not British-born and I have lived in various countries.
In the end everything came together in time! Whilst we were getting ourselves prepared for our Evergreen Panel meeting, we were told that Evergreen had a potential Foster Child match for us – a 10-year-old boy who loves dogs and who would be more suited to a fostering placement with no other children at home. We were so excited!
A visit from the child’s Social Worker was then organised. She came to our home and met us, with Louise in support. The visit went really well. We all agreed that it was a good match, pending our approval to be Foster Carers.
The Evergreen Panel meeting was at the end of October. We were incredibly nervous! However the ladies and gentlemen of the panel made us feel at ease. It was nowhere near as intimidating as we thought it was going to be. We felt upbeat and positive on our way home.
On the following Monday we had the call from Evergreen’s Decision Maker to congratulate us on passing our assessment! We were over the moon!
The transition for the little boy then started the following week. We undertook some intense training prior to the start of the Foster Child placement. This included training for paediatric first aid, child behaviour management, and child record reporting and recording.
The first few days and weeks were challenging! Not just for the little boy, but also for us. However, because of the extremely thorough training we received, the very detailed information shared with us about the little boy’s background and behaviour patterns, and the excellent 24 hour support from Evergreen during this time, we successfully overcame the challenge.
Everyone at Evergreen went the extra mile to help! They answered calls at ‘silly o’clock’ at night, and they came to our home at a moment’s notice. Evergreen helped by remaining positive and constructive and by never making us feel like a failure.
We are now 4 months in! Our little boy has settled in beautifully. He is much less anxious, he can regulate his behaviour and he now sees us as ‘his forever family’. He has decided he will live with us until he is ‘at least 35 years old’! We love him very much, are immensely proud of him, and a life without a Foster Child is now inconceivable.
Evergreen are always by our sides! They provide us with training, supervision, therapy support, as well as practical support. Both my husband and I know that we are never on our own. The Co-Carer provision (every other weekend and school holidays) is also extremely valuable. We know we have a whole team working with us. Evergreen feels like a big extended family and we feel extremely lucky and blessed to be a part of it.
The moral of our story is that you may feel that you are too old, too inexperienced, or not good enough to be a Foster Carer. However, if you have the time, energy and commitment, then please consider joining the Evergreen family and help to make a Foster Child feel secure and happy! It might turn out to be the best thing you ever do. It certainly was in our case.
Ina, Foster Carer, Derbyshire.