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Sarah and John’s story

Posted on: 18 June 2015

Sarah and John* have been fostering for us for about 2 ½ years. They have three children of their own, two living at home and one who lives locally.

They first became interested in fostering some years ago when Sarah met a friend in the park who always had lots of children with her.

“When I asked her if they were all her children, she said they were actually her foster children. Well I wasn’t even sure what fostering was at the time but we got chatting and I thought this is something I’d really like to do, and she thought I might be good at it!”

Several years passed until John and Sarah felt ready to move forward. Their own children were still young and they wanted to wait until they had the time and space to make such a commitment.

After applying, there was a series of meetings with the fostering team, training sessions and paper work before John and Sarah could be approved. It was a useful time as John explains; “We were given lots of advice and told what we could expect. It’s a fairly intensive but necessary process because by the end some people realise that this isn’t for them but we were still sure that this was something we wanted to do.”

Once John and Sarah had been officially approved, it took another 6 weeks or so before they actually welcomed their first foster child. “It was a bit of a roller coaster emotionally,” John remembers, “because sometimes you would get a call saying that there may be a child arriving but sometimes these things have to go through court so you never really know if it’s going to happen or not.”

One day though, it did happen and John and Sarah found themselves at a nearby hospital with a 2 day old baby in their arms. “She was 4lbs 6oz,” Sarah says smiling. She admits it was difficult at first; “Obviously you’re looking after a new born baby and it is hard work. She was with us for six weeks and we became very attached to her.”

The little girl was returned to her mother but unfortunately, things didn’t work out and the baby came back to John and Sarah who explain that again this was a tough period; “She came back a different child, she cried all the time and we didn’t know what to do.” It was their son who found a solution. “He did some research and suggested we swaddle her tightly…well it worked! We’d wrap her up and cuddle her close and eventually she settled down. I think she felt safe and secure.” Sarah remembers.

After 12 months with John and Sarah’s family, she was adopted. Again this was a challenging time as Sarah explains; “It was hard to let her go but you know that it’s the right thing to do and you have to be professional about it.” Fortunately John and Sarah remain in close touch with her and her adoptive parents and have maintained a good relationship.

Their second and latest addition to the family is a 9 year old boy who has been with them for 19 months. After a slightly shaky start, he’s much more settled and happy. They describe him as always polite, well mannered and very curious, “We realised that no-one had ever really spent the time with him explaining what things were and how they worked so we found we were bombarded with constant questions!”

He will eventually go to a long term fostering family, something which John has made clear, “We’ve always told him that this is a temporary arrangement and one day he will move to a permanent home and family and it’s important that he knows that. It can be a bit unsettling because we’re not sure when that’s going to happen, sometimes we say maybe after your birthday or after christmas, but for the moment, he knows he’s with us.”

John and Sarah say it’s important to involve the whole family if you do venture down the fostering path, John explains; “It involves all of us in the family so you need to make sure your own children understand and are on board with what you’re doing.” In fact, it’s made their children very appreciative of their own upbringing. Sarah says their daughter has commented on their childhood and how well looked after and protected they were and has given them an empathy towards those less fortunate. A good lesson to learn in life!

More than a job, fostering is a vocation and a career. For John and Sarah the rewards far outweigh the challenges and they say it’s the best thing they ever did. They still see their friend in the park who provided the inspiration to spur them into action and as Sarah reflects; “She has made such a difference to those children’s lives and that’s exactly what we wanted to do; make a difference.”

If you want to make a difference, please get in touch.

* all names have been changed

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