Foster Carer Talks. Swapping Out the Quiet Life to Foster

19th January, 2023

Recently we caught up with Excel foster carer, Steve, 53, to learn more about his fostering journey to date… and with twelve years of fostering experience it has been quite the journey.

Steve was brutally honest about his experiences and talked frankly about barriers faced by many when considering fostering.

Life After Retirement

After twenty-two years in the army, and children grown up Steve was ready to enjoy some peace and quiet with his wife and enjoy his retirement. Then his wife suggested fostering.

“I have to be honest, I thought she was mad at first! Our life was starting to quiet down and I knew that fostering would be anything but.

After a while though, I really thought about it and reconsidered. My wife has always stood by me and I wanted to return the favour. Fast forward twelve years, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Steve and his wife started with some respite fostering and although it wasn’t intentional this allowed the pair a good starting point, allowing them to reflect and learn from each situation and grow as carers.

The Reality of Fostering

After a spate of short-term stays, Steve and partner welcomed their first long term arrangement into their home, a trio of siblings…

“It was a reality check.” Steve tells, “We didn’t realise how bad things could get. It broke our hearts.”

The children had been neglected, with poor hygiene and little trust, the youngest sister with zero confidence and always hiding behind her hair.

The road was not always smooth when it came to this long-term arrangement. Steve, being up front that the fostering journey is an emotional one, that fostering is hard, it is enjoyable, frustrating at times but oh so rewarding.

Harking back to his army days when he was stationed in Kenya, he saw real poverty before his own eyes, children living on the streets, and he was there to help. But back at home, you can be in your own bubble and not realise the number of children out there that need help.

Providing Security and Belonging

Over ten years on, and two of the siblings are still living with Steve and his wife. Including the youngest sister who far from being a child hiding from the world, is now excelling in college and building a bright future for herself. With Steve supporting her every step of the way.

“That is why I do it. For the children, they have a chance in life now that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. That matters above anything else.”

In Steve’s opinion, that chance he has provided to break the cycle and offer a future makes all of the hard times worth it.

Advice for Potential Foster Carers

Steve states that he couldn’t ask for more in a job. So much so, that he and his wife are hoping to welcome more looked after children into their home in the coming months.

He has been able to find a balance in his duties as a foster carer and downtime to pursue his own hobbies. When the children are at school, he has time to paint, sew, take on DIY projects and walk the dog, while his wife enjoys time looking after their young grandchildren. Then it is back into carer mode. It is all about balance.

But for Steve, his most valuable piece of advice is about forming a strong support network.

“I cannot stress enough how vital this is. A strong support network is the key. Everyone needs down time, everyone. So by having that network in place, you can have that time without causing disruption to the children.”

 

If Steve story resonated with you and you would like to know more about fostering with Excel then please do call one of our friendly team on 01253 712 734.

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