Foster carers stories

Kirsteen's story

Kirsteen with foster daughter Mia

I've worked for Foster with Edinburgh for 27 years.  I started by doing Share the Care, giving parents of children with disabilities a well-deserved break.  After around 8 years, fostering just naturally happened.  I was taking a child home one day when I got a phone call from a social worker telling me how they had 2 brothers in their office whom they had to look after. They asked if I could look after them for the afternoon instead of them being in the office. They had a carer taking them that night. The boys were 3 and 4.  The younger boy had a disability, so most of my time and attention was on him, making sure he was safe.

At the end of the day when the boys left, I reflected on how all my time was spent meeting all the younger boys needs, while the older boy just went along with everything his brother did. I felt sad for this boy as it was obvious he did a lot of care for his brother (remember he was only 4). The worker came and picked the boys up and asked how they had been. I explained everything and said I wished I could just keep the older boy as he seemed so sad. The boys left and I got on with my life.  A few days later I got another call telling me that it didn’t work out with the carer and would I consider taking the older boy.  “Of course I will”, was my answer - he was 4 and I still have him now, aged 24.  So, I feel fostering found me in a way.

The process of becoming a foster carer was a bit overwhelming at first, but after meeting other people going through the same as you, it made it easier. I did feel a bit strange at first when a stranger wanted to know all about your life, your relationship with your parents, your children, your finances, childhood experiences, your whole life exposed good and bad. However, I understand why they must do this. When you are approved, it’s the best feeling ever.

You first placement is scary. You question yourself: “Can I do this? What if they don’t like me, what if I make a mistake?”, but things work out fine.
Challenges can be your own family trying to understand what is happening and learning that you need to support the child you foster.  Also, your children, and now grandchildren, get attached to children you foster, and when the child moves on, this can be hard.
But there is a lot of support for you: support groups, meeting with your worker, and support from other carers.  Fostering can be hard, as many people don’t understand the trauma these children have experienced. Most of my friends are now other carers who understand. When a child leaves your care, you do miss them. However, when children go home or move to stay in a permanent home and you see them smile, you know you were part of making that smile and it makes it all worthwhile.  Also seeing how your own children grow up to be kind is another bonus.

*All names have been changed to protect identities