Why sons and daughters are so valuable as part of the fostering journey…
We began to foster when our son and daughter were 4 and 5 respectively. Being completely honest, it was often tough for them both. The children we fostered and offered short breaks to all had a variety of behavioural difficulties due to autism, global developmental delay, intellectual disabilities and/or previous adverse childhood experiences. Many times we planned to go on family days out but couldn’t because our foster child was struggling that day or we would go, and it would have to be cut short because it was not enjoyable for anyone. My birth children often had their toys destroyed and their bedrooms urinated in. I often wondered if we were doing the right thing and the impact it might have on my children. But the joy we all felt as a family when we all laughed together and had fun will stay with us all.
Sons and daughters of foster carers are so important to the well-being of the foster child. Having to share their parent/s attention is not always easy and yet being a part of a fostering family can enrich both the life of the birth children and the fostered child. Having warm relationships and that sense of belonging is vital for fostered children, and birth children can make great role models and friends.
Often birth children are the best playmates for foster children where the foster child does not have a sense of being expected to perform in a certain way and the demands are less. There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that a proportion of birth children actually go on to become foster carers themselves or enter caring professions, and many feel that fostering has enhanced their social understanding, empathy and skills.
My son is now 30 and daughter is 31 and although I thanked them often for helping us to foster, I haven’t thought to thank them recently, so thank you Jessica and Joshua for all your support and understanding. And a massive thank you to all our sons and daughters who foster. You may never know how valuable you are, or have been, to so many other children you have shared the fostering journey with.