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Children playing together

Experiences of fostering

Becky and Lauren (names anonymised for confidentiality) had been fostering for two and a half years before transferring to The Hazel Project in Spring 2023. We chatted with them to find out more about their experience of fostering…

Had you both thought about fostering before you met or was it something that you discussed after you got together?

Lauren - My dad fostered when I was a kid, so I grew up with foster children.

Becky - And I already worked in childcare. I worked in a nursery and so I was already used to being around children all the time and we just spoke about it and thought why not?

 

Did you consider adoption as well or did you know that you wanted to foster? 

Lauren - We knew that we wanted to foster, but fostering has made us think more about having a child of our own too. 

Becky - We’re thinking of having IVF treatment but we might go down the adoption route, we’re just going to see, after all, two wombs are better than one!

You were with a different fostering organisation before moving over to us, tell me more about that.

Lauren - We fostered with them for two and a half coming up for 3 years. We were fostering siblings and we weren’t getting support from our social worker. The children that we were fostering were quite challenging and we needed respite and they just couldn’t provide it, even with lots of notice. We were constantly having to chase them up. 

Becky - We did training on challenging behaviour but it wasn’t enough training, so they would punch and kick us, very physical and the agency's response was just kind of get on and deal with it. 

Lauren - I think that's the difference with here (The Hazel Project) is that we know that there would be someone available to help. 

A lot of people struggle with the concept of respite and why it might be needed...

Lauren - I think until you're actually fostering, you don't know how important respite is, but you need that break sometimes, especially if the children are quite full on.

Becky - It can be useful for the children as well. They need a little holiday away from it all as well. I think it can all just get caught in a vortex where you're going round and round.

Lauren - Sometimes having that respite makes the difference between being able to carry on or everything breaking down. We’ve requested respite now with The Hazel Project and within a couple of hours of me doing that, it’s already been sorted and it was like oh my god, what a weight off our shoulders.

 

And the relationship with your social worker or fostering supervisor, why is that so important

Becky - Our fostering supervisor is really good, she's good with the girls.

Lauren - She did the school run with me yesterday when she came round. I love our fostering supervisor, she's really nice, you can message her and she’ll literally reply straight away, I like that. We were renewing our mortgage so we needed that piece of paper to say that the pay will stay the same and she sorted it out for me straight away, before, with our old agency, it would take days and days.

Becky - at times, we found our old social worker a bit patronising, because we were a bit younger, she would be a little bit patronising about our parenting but our fostering supervisor now doesn't do that, you can easily talk to her and she doesn't judge, not at all. 

Lauren - if you’ve had a rubbish day, she sees that and says are you ok? She can just tell. Before, we never got that, it was more like, that's your job, get on with it.

So since you started working with us, you have two sisters with you

Becky - Yes, I think they are definitely settled now. They’ve been with us since June and should be with us long term. I feel like we are now beginning to see their true selves. 

Lauren - They’ve already had a few foster homes. They've had a bit of a rough ride. They were with a foster family where one of their foster parents died, so they dealt with a lot of extra loss there. They lived with two other families before returning back, but it didn't work so they got moved again. They got moved in with their brother and they were all living together but he used to beat them up and it just wasn't working. So now they are with us and they both have their own rooms which makes a huge difference to them and they still see their brother who lives nearby. We’ve got 2 dogs that they love to death, they really love them.

Becky - They're very affectionate. Our youngest one is just repeatedly saying “i love you, i love you, i love you”, we feel like she's really saying “please don't move me again”. 

What's been the most difficult?

Becky - One of the girls gets up at half past 4 every day - well everyone's up! We’ll walk her back into her room but she'll be out again in 5 minutes. She just has relentless energy, from the second she wakes up to the second she goes to bed. 

Lauren - You’ve got to have the imagination to do different activities. You’ve just got to have patience and have that understanding, it's not her personally, she's not doing it on purpose, she can't help it. The other one is more of a struggle going to sleep, they're the opposite ways so it's just getting used to it all. And that mixed with the trauma and the upheaval that they have had, it’s a lot for them. Family time with Mum is getting reduced because she keeps cancelling.

Becky - We don't tell them when it has been due to happen but they do say to us “you do know we see our mum and dad” and we say yes, we know girls, we couldn't tell them that actually they keep cancelling.

Lauren - Their birthdays are literally a week apart and mum didn't get anything for them, not even a card. She didn't see them, but I think it's because she didn't have stuff for them.

Potential foster parents can be worried about the relationship with foster children's birth parents, what has been your experience?

Becky - We have a work foster email so when we would have virtual meetings I would use a different email and a different phone or sim card so if they did call without it being organised, they wouldn’t be calling ours.

Lauren - when we fostered before, we were told by the previous foster parents that mum had been calling relentlessly to try to get hold of them, so we kept it separate from the start, so there wasn't a chance of getting our personal numbers.

Becky - I think relationships with birth families you just have to be so neutral and try to not let your feelings on what's happened take over because you can hear horrendous things and you have got to be really nice to these people, even though you know what they’ve done.

Lauren - You've still got to promote that that's your mum and dad and they will always be your mum and dad. I feel like as kids get older they start to work out what people are like, they don't need us to say anything, they'll work it out.

Are you glad that you moved over to foster with The Hazel Project

Lauren - I think it's probably the best thing we’ve done. I said that to my mum this morning, previously we just weren't supported.

Becky - Our fostering supervisors like, right, I'm going to do this, i promise you that you will get this answer, before we would wait for weeks.

What qualities do you think it’s important for a foster parent to have

Lauren - Patience, you have to have that understanding and be able to bring calm. I think it's horrible to say but you’ve got to have been through something in life yourself, to be able to understand trauma, to get it otherwise you’ll have no experience to kind of fall back on.

Becky - It's important that you have time. Time is a big factor, these children are so dependent on you, you have to be able to give them that time. The girlscanva

 needed a lot of time when they first came to us. And patience - like I sorted the clean washing with them the other day and at times you really want to take over and just get it done but you have to sit back and say yep, that's the right sock and give them that time to sort through. They loved that, doing a little job together. 

Request a copy of our digital brochure to find out more about fostering with The Hazel Project

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