Make a plan, stick to the plan, always deliver!
The above is a line from a family movie called "Storks" and is apt for how we thought we lived our lives. When we, a middle-aged couple with no children living in our home, first discussed the thought of becoming foster carers.
As the conversation and process progressed, we both immediately said to each other babies (0-2 years) would be our interest. We were both very definite about this. We went to the 3 day "Introduction to Fostering course" and we were still very focussed on fostering children 0-2 years. All the way through the assessment process we listened to stories about fostering of all ages and did a multitude of training across all ages. Prior to panel approval we discussed it between ourselves and also with our assessing social worker and it was agreed we would be presented to panel to be approved for 0-18 years with a preference for 0-2 years.
Lo and behold, quite early on in our new lifestyle, this is what we see fostering as, we were contacted by Social Work and asked if we would consider emergency accommodating a teenager in 48 hours’ time. Our immediate thought was "no" but we discussed it and then called them back to say we really didn't feel this was where our strengths lie nor where we see ourselves fitting in. We were asked if we would consider reading her case file as the family placement team felt we were a match. We agreed to do this as we felt if the professionals, knowing our preference, think we are a match with this situation and this teenager, we will read it through. We opened the file and as we read through it separately it turned out we were both thinking "how can we say no?"
She has been through so much through no doing of her own and needs safety, security and guidance. The family placement team felt we can do it, and we knew we had their support, so we agreed. We did ask if this meant we wouldn't be considered for a baby placement whilst the teenager was with us but we were assured our approval would be amended to allow us to accommodate 2 children and if a baby was needing fostered, we would be considered as a match.
The teenager, Z, came to meet us the next day and moved in the following day by which time we had swapped around bedrooms, furniture, bought her a tv and various other "teenagery" things. All 3 of us were a little nervous and not too sure how it would all work out but after a day or two things started to become more relaxed. The house rules were agreed, and we soon seemed to live well together. There were a few bumps in the road but nothing serious and nothing that was not easy to discuss, sort and move on from. The support from all professionals involved was fantastic and we most certainly didn't feel we were doing this alone. True to their word, 2 weeks after Z moved in, we received a call from Social Work placement team and that same day a 2 week old baby moved in too. Z was delighted with the addition to the home and we all learned yet another way to live together with a newborn in the home too.
Z is now at University and is very happy. We still hear from her very regularly and see her too. Do we have any regrets in saying yes to fostering a teenager, absolutely not. Are we pleased we were asked to at least read Z's case file, absolutely. Did we enjoy having her as part of our family - most definitely and she still is, and we still do. Would we encourage other foster carers to consider all ages, without a doubt. We now would always read a case file prior to deciding whether we feel this placement suits us and if we feel we can provide them with what they need. Every child is different and has their own story but the professionals are always just a phone call away and, in our experience, you are not alone. Fostering a teenager was a hugely positive experience for us. We made a plan, we didn't stick to the plan but we did deliver and the experience delivered to our lives too!
By phone: 01224 694554
By email: AdoptFostRecruitment@aberdeencity.gov.uk
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