One of the biggest dilemmas for potential applicants relating to foster care is the effect that it will have on the biological children in the home.
The decision to become a foster carer should not be taken lightly as it involves the whole family. However fostering can and does have a positive impact on everyone in the household. The Wray family who are current foster carers in the Southern Trust shared their experience of fostering in the hope that others will come forward and consider fostering as a worthwhile and rewarding experience.
County Armagh carers, Brigid and Jimmy Wray, have been fostering for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust since 2013. Since this time the family have fostered numerous children, welcoming each child into their home irrespective of their age or background. The family initially cared for children placed in short and long term care, however more recently have provided emergency care and respite support to children and families in need.
Brigid acknowledged the huge commitment of fostering for their family, “we wouldn’t have made an enquiry unless everyone was on board”. Brigid and Jimmy’s sons Colm and Dermot and their daughter Siobhan were in their teenage years when the family made an enquiry to foster with the Southern Trust. Brigid recalled discussing their wish to foster with their children, “we waited until the children were old enough to understand what fostering was about, so they could make an informed decision”.
Sons and Daughter’s month
Their daughter Siobhan recalled the assessing Social Worker including her in the fostering assessment. “She was really lovely; she took time to get to know me and asked me questions about other children coming into our home. She was in and out of our house over the course of the assessment, and provided us all with support when children were placed. We’ve got to know her really well”. During the assessment process the Social Worker explored Colm, Dermot and Siobhan’s understanding of fostering, the potential impact of fostering on them and whether there would be any concerns regarding matching a child to their household.
Reflecting on her memories of their first placement, Siobhan recalled feeling excited and hopeful that the first child placed was a girl, “I never had a sister”. When ‘Holly’ (aged 12) was placed, Siobhan recalled taking on the role of a big sister, “I made efforts to make her feel welcomed. I enjoyed spending time with her and doing her hair. She would have raided my makeup and wardrobe but I didn’t care. I didn’t mind sharing my things. Mum always reminds us that you get more out of giving. I knew this made Holly happy. Holly stayed with us for a long-time and then went home to her family. We’ve stayed in contact and make sure to invite her to family BBQ’s and around to our home at Christmas”.
Siobhan thought about the different children that have moved in and out of her home over the years. “Some children who come to live with us are frightened or upset, whilst others are just craving attention and thankful to feel safe. It just depends on their personality or what has happened at home. I remember when ‘Laurence’ was placed with us. He was scared and underweight, and wouldn’t lift his head up to look at us. I remember him being defiant at the beginning but mum and dad never gave up. Now, he’s a totally different child. He’s cheeky, confident and outgoing. He’s just part of our family”.
Siobhan described the busyness of their home with 3 foster children, “There’s a constant buzz in the house. We’ve had some laughs, especially at bed time when mum was trying to get us to bed and we were up to badness!”.
As time passed by Brigid watched Siobhan take a supportive role in the family, helping them out when needed. “Siobhan is very hands on. It’s great when she takes the children out for a few hours, swimming or to the Tayto Park. It gives us a break.” Siobhan recognised that fostering can be stressful at times, “I wanted to lift the load from them. It’s a team effort”.
Siobhan concluded, “In all, my experience of fostering with mum and dad was positive.” She believes that her parent’s role as foster carers inspired her employment in health and social care, “It’s been a blessing in disguise… I was able to talk about my experience of fostering in job interviews and impressed the panel with my knowledge”.
Siobhan and her partner are now living in their own accommodation and interested in becoming foster carers for the Southern Trust. Siobhan has discussed her wish to provide safety and support to children and young people, with a genuine belief that every child
deserves a chance. Siobhan has responded to fostering with a positive outlook. She has been observed to empathise with children, accept them without judgement and encourage them to reach their full potential.
As the Wray family have shared how fostering can have many benefits for biological children. They learn to love, learn to share, learn about the real world, learn to value diversity and accept, and learn about transitions. It may depend on the age of the child, the maturity of the child, the personality of the child…but please don’t rule it out because you have children.
If you would like to find out more about fostering Call: 028 37 560 750 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Southern Trust Family Placement Service sends their sincere thanks to the sons and daughters of foster carers for welcoming fostered children into their home. Without them, their parents would not be able to foster and make a difference to the lives of other children.