Jane and Darren have been fostering for nearly four years, they sold their own business to embark on their fostering journey and make a difference to children's lives. Read their story here.
Darren and I have been fostering for nearly four years with Excel Fostering and have enjoyed our journey so far, seeing the difference we make in children’s lives has been amazing.
I used to own my own business before I started fostering, but I always knew that I wanted to foster and look after children who needed support and a loving home. We have our own children so we knew the time would not be right whilst they were young but now that they are older it was the perfect time for us to start fostering. This has been the best decision we have made as we like a challenge and there is no better feeling than helping disadvantaged children.
When we told our family and friends, we were going to start fostering they were all very supportive, some asked if we could hand the children back if we did not like them! Now that we have been fostering for a while and others have witnessed the work we have done with the children; they love what we do. We have two children of our own, one lives in Vietnam and the other still lives with us, she was really excited to have more children around the house. Darren and I both decided that we would not accept children older than her because we wanted her to be the big sister in the family. It is great that our own family get on well with the foster children, it really helps them feel at home and bond with everyone.
We have recommended a few of our friends to Excel Fostering who were thinking about starting their journey. They have seen the amazing positive experiences we have had and the difference we have made in children’s lives which is something they would like to do as well. Of course, not everyone has a positive attitude when we tell them that we are foster carers. Sometimes people assume we became foster carers because of the money but that could not be further from the truth.
It is not about the money for us at all, in fact we were making more money in our own business before we gave that up to start fostering. For us, it is all about helping children who desperately need a loving home, no other job has the same satisfaction as fostering. I think people seem to forget that this is a 24/7 role and the children do become a part of the family. If anyone reading this who is considering fostering, please remember that this is a job that will help many children and you need to be doing it for the right reasons.
I am the main carer and Darren still works full time in his job but is available when I need extra support from him. At the start Darren was not too keen about it but after a long conversion one evening in the hot tub I said to him I was ready to take the jump and start fostering. He won’t admit it but he loves the children so much! He has a great relationship with them and is glad that we made the decision to start fostering. Because I am the main carer, he is still able to have his time away from them when he is at work but any free time he has we always spend time together as a family.
When our first placement was due to arrive, we felt excited, naive, inexperienced, and nervous as we had not looked after hurt children before. When the two beautiful children ran down our path, all those feelings soon melted away and we put into practice the skills we had learnt from the Excel training courses. We soon realised that these children, although hurt, were looking for one thing – a loving home where they feel safe.
The children stayed with us for 12 months and I must admit it was a difficult placement which nearly made me throw in the towel and give up on fostering. After discussing things with Excel Fostering, they gave me lots of support and advice, and made me realise that just because I had one bad experience does not mean they will all be like that. It did break my heart when the placement had to leave but I knew they needed a new home where they could receive the support they required. I remember reading a fostering book which said, ‘never blame yourself, they were damaged before they arrived to you’, that line has stayed with me and I believe it is true. I would say to anyone who goes through the same situation as us, you are not a failure if the placement does not work out as you had imagined.
Darren and I decided we would give it another shot, and we are so happy we did because the next placement we received brings so much happiness into our lives. We decided that emergency and respite fostering would fit our lifestyle better and it would also allow us to look after more children as our time as foster carers. The best thing for us is hearing the children laugh, play and most importantly be able to act like children. It is sad to say that many children who come into foster care are used to being responsible for caring for their siblings and do not know how to relax and enjoy being a child.
We often attend training meetings and we used to wonder what the rewards were that people would always talk about, after a little while we both knew what they meant! Seeing the children strive and become the best version of themselves is the best reward in the world. Making children feel safe and loved is why we love what we do, it is heart-breaking at times to know about the situations they have been in, but it is our role to help them have a positive future.
We never realised how lucky we are, we never spoiled our own children but when we see the foster children become happy and excited over things we take for granted, you realise how different their upbringing has been. The children we currently care for had never had an advent calendar before and when they saw that we had got them one each, they were the happiest children on the planet! It is the little things that mean the world to the children and we enjoy making them feel like they are part of our family.
Fostering is challenging at times but seeing the children grow up and making them feel like they are not a burden is what makes the job worth it for us. They become a part of the family and are amazing individuals which we are lucky enough to experience. During the assessment process, we do go through everything from our current life, all the way back through our past and our own childhoods. When we were at the stage of discussing our childhoods, we realised our own childhoods were not perfect and it is the same for the children that come to us.
We would recommend Excel Fostering for anyone who is considering starting their fostering journey. There is lots of training available and we have so much support that we never feel like we are alone. The face-to-face meetings are amazing as well, we get to chat to other carers which is invaluable, and it is a great way of learning tips and how other carers are getting on.
The best thing about Excel Fostering is that we are like a big family, everyone is approachable, they know exactly what is going on with each placement and we always feel listened to whenever we have any queries or issues. If it were not for the great staff at Excel Fostering, we would have given up on our fostering journey ages ago!
For anyone reading this who wants to take the next step and start caring for children who need loving homes, we want you to know that it is a lovely job, there are rough times but there are more positives than negatives. It is not all bad and there are lots of good times waiting ahead for you. We have loved all the children that have walked through our door and we know every single one of them appreciates everything we have done for them. We cannot wait to see what the future holds.