After bumping into someone who fostered on a family holiday, Darren and Marie decided to finally apply for their dream role as foster carers. Read their story here.
Darren and I have been fostering with Excel Fostering for nearly two years and we are glad we found them! We had spoken to other fostering agencies but once we got talking to Excel, we knew they were the right fit for us. Everyone from Excel is so friendly, helpful, and always makes us feel comfortable which is what were looking for.
We had thought about fostering for over 10 years, it was something we both really wanted to do but we always made excuses about not starting the process. It was by chance that we met a lovely lady on a holiday who had lots of children with her and when we started talking to her, she said she was a foster carer. Instantly, we were fascinated by her story and that was what sealed our fate in deciding to pursue our dream career. We went home and applied to become foster carers straight away, we were excited that we were following our dreams and what we have always wanted to do.
We had a few friends who recommended Excel and said how supportive they were during the application process and even after you are approved. At the time of applying, we were living in a static caravan, so we weren’t sure if we would be allowed to foster or not. When Parvis from the Excel team came out to see us, he made us feel comfortable and didn’t reject us because of our situation. We had spoken to other agencies before finding Excel and they just laughed at us when we told them about our living arrangements. That wasn’t the case with Excel, they treated us like human beings and really listened to us about why we wanted to start fostering.
Darren and I both discussed about moving out of the caravan and into a house with more rooms so we would be able to care for more children. That was the whole purpose of us becoming foster carers, so we could look after as many children as possible and provide them with a loving and caring environment. We knew if we continued living in the caravan, we may be limited to one placement and that was enough for us to make the decision to move. We still have the caravan and enjoy taking the children on holidays in it!
Another reason why we wanted to move into a house with spare bedrooms is because we are strong advocates of keeping siblings together when they enter foster care. It is so sad that many children are separated from their brothers and sisters because there are not enough carers to accommodate them all together.
When we told our friends and family that we were going to start fostering, they all thought we were mad! Our children had left home for many years, and everyone could not understand why we would want to give up the child free lifestyle and go back to having that responsibility again. To us, it made perfect sense because we know we are giving something back to society and it also provides a great work/life balance. We get to spend a lot more time with our family compared to before, and the placements we care for have brought the family closer together. Our son and his wife have witnessed first-hand the difference we have made in children’s lives and have now been approved as foster carers themselves. Every child that comes through our door we treat them like they are our own, and our extended family also make them feel welcome.
When we got our first placement, we were petrified and nervous as we didn’t know how we would react or cope in the situation. Before you agree to any placement, you get to read the referral sheet and the little boy that was due to arrive at our house sounded like he was going to be a big problem for us. The reason why we decided to say yes and take a chance on him was because we knew that sometimes things can be exaggerated on paper. It shocked us when he did arrive, he only had a few things with him, and he took a little while to settle in but we could not believe how different the child in front of us compared to what his referral sheet had said about him! That was a big lesson to us, and it just goes to show that you cannot judge a child just based on a piece of paper.
When we both decided to start fostering, one thing that we always said is that every child who comes into foster care is looking for a family that will love them as their own. We knew we had to care for this little boy because nobody else was giving him a chance. It was sad to see him go when the placement ended but it was a happy ending because he is now in his forever home. The emotional support we received from Excel was outstanding and they helped us get through it.
For anyone reading this who is thinking of fostering, please do not have a set preference of children you would like to care for. It is extremely important to be open minded and give everything a go! The best advice we could give anyone is to remember why you are doing this, for us we wanted to help as many children as possible regardless of their background.
The best thing about fostering for us is being able to welcome a child into our home and watch them grow into an incredible young person and provide them with the love and care they have been longing for. Their world before meeting us might have been hard and we want to show them that life does not have to be that way. It is an amazing feeling when they start doing well at school and making new friends, just simple things in life that many of us take for granted, they will cherish those little moments forever. We could not imagine our lives without fostering now, this is us set for the rest of our lives. The one thing we always say to one another is, why did we wait so long so get started!
The support we have received from Excel has made fostering such an enjoyment and we often forget it is a job as it brings so much pleasure into our lives. From the fist initial phone call to now, Excel have always been there for us and we could not have done this without them. The training providing has been phenomenal and taught us so much, and although only online training is available due to the pandemic, we cannot wait for the face-to-face training to return because we love meeting other carers there. The social hub and family feel we have with Excel is the perfect option for us and we are glad we found them. A few of our friends weren’t so lucky with their chosen fostering agency and have actually given up fostering due to a lack of support which sad to see, so we try and get everyone to swap to Excel before throwing in the towel because we know they will have such a positive fostering experience that they won’t want to give it up.
It is sad to see so many young children coming into foster care each year, but it is even sadder to see that there aren’t enough carers out there to look after them. We know there are people out there who are waiting to make the jump and start fostering like we were, all we can say is go for it, it will be the best thing you’ll do! We wish we hadn’t waited so long before applying but we are hoping our story can help others to start their fostering journey.
For us, making a difference to just one child’s life was enough to make us pick up the phone and apply. We are so happy that we have already made a difference to so many children’s lives and we will continue to help many more.