Sarah and Allan's Fostering Story
When it comes to foster parenting, Sarah’s experience is invaluable.
Sarah and husband Allan began fostering in Hull almost 12 years ago, with the support of their own children, now aged 26, 21 and 18, and family network. Two adopted children and four foster children - two teenagers and two babies - are part of this caring family, as are 28 other foster children, who Sarah and Allan love to stay in touch with.
They are part of a foster parents’ support network in Hull, where Sarah is a much-valued mentor.
Sarah says: “We love kids. I’ve always been around people who fostered - my mum fostered when I was growing up.
When Allan and I decided to start fostering, we had three children of our own. We talked at length with each other, our kids, and our family to see what they thought and decided, yes. It took about six to eight months to go through all the checks and training with Hull Fostering.
We’ve done it as a family, and we have fantastic support. If you don’t have that support, it won’t work. Our children are all on board with it and help us out with the younger ones, they’re lovely.
Our two eldest have moved out now, so we have seven children at home - three of our own and four foster children - two teenagers and two babies - one of whose been with us seven years.
Two are now our adopted children. I picked one up from the hospital when she was 23 hours old, and we adopted her when she was two-and-a-half. She has microcephalus, Tourette syndrome and learning difficulties and is now nine years old. We adopted the seven-year-old when he was two. He always says that he grew in our hearts, because he knows he didn’t grow in my tummy.
Teatime is hilarious in this house, especially if the eldest ones and our four-year-old granddaughter come home for tea - it’s a case of squash up!
The thing with fostering is it can change very fast - it’s whatever the child needs. Some children don’t need to be with us for very long, they might be going for adoption, or going home. With the babies, you tend to pick them up and start collecting memories so you can tell their birth parents or adoptive parents about their milestones - their first step or their first word.
It is so rewarding. I’ve only had good experiences and when it has been difficult, I’ve had Hull Fostering behind me, and my family and friends.
You get a lot of training with Hull Fostering. When that’s in place, along with all the other support, the transformation from when children arrive to when they leave is amazing.
You have your own social worker and duty team out of hours, so if there are any problems there’s usually someone at the end of the phone. There are support groups for each area of Hull and when you start fostering, you have a mentor. We also have Teams groups, social media groups and a WhatsApp group.
The challenges are that most people think it’s going to be easy, but a lot of children have come for a reason. No matter what’s happening to them, you must remember that you’re taking them away from what they know best. Sitting and having a family meal may not be natural for them, or for you to ask them to go to bed at 9pm when they’re used to going at midnight. You’ve got to compromise, accept that it doesn’t always work and be aware of what they’re going through.
To anyone thinking about it, I’d say do it, if you can set yourself up with the right support.
'' I’m 46 and I don’t see me stopping any time soon. It’s a way of life. It’s 24/7 and I love it. I absolutely love it."
Shane and Lisa’s fostering story
Over the years Shane and Lisa have focused more on being Foster Carers for Hull while also working. Shane has changed his work roll over the years, and Lisa has done the same. Now though Lisa is the stay-at- home Mum, looking after the little ones, this is their story -
Well firstly I would like to say that my wife Lisa and I wouldn't change a thing that has happened over the last 12+ years of Fostering with Hull.
We believe that everything happens for a reason and that is all you need in life, we have had so many good times (and challenging ones) that you just learn from them and always make the best of the times you have, together.
We are full-time (Mainstream) Foster Carers with Hull, looking after 0-18-year-olds who live with us as part of our family, plus we have had the loveliest opportunity to adopt three wonderful children during our years of fostering, not saying you have to adopt but the circumstances where right for the children and for us and our family is growing.
So, if there is any doubt in your mind about why people Foster just ask yourself one question, do I care enough to love a local child and give them the home and support they need? If that answer is yes, then you could change the lives of so many young local children too.
You get the support and care you need when you need it (well most of the time) and there is always someone to speak with, either other foster carers, or staff at Hull Fostering.
We have had a fantastic Social Worker that goes above and beyond all that we have expected of him.
Over the last year or so with Covid and the lockdowns we have had our support network and our older children to rely on to help us and support every day to day things. Like homeschooling, routines and even the day-to-day cleaning.
People say how do you manage having all those kids in your house, your house is just so busy. Don't get us wrong having young and older children in your house can be a challenge, we just do it we are so family friendly and like the challenge as it keeps us very young at heart.
The things we like doing as a family are days out as a family in the park or seaside, going out with friends which we are looking forward to doing again. Picnics and walks in parks or local walks with the dogs (oh yeah, I forgot we have two dogs too). The most thing we enjoy doing is going to our family caravan at weekends and holidays. It gives the kids the freedom and the security that they can go and let off steam and us adults, like most parents, get to chill for a bit and enjoy watching them have fun together.
We would say, start your journey by picking up the phone and calling the friendly team, drop them an email or complete the online form to find out more and get an info pack now with all the information. So, what are you waiting for? Change a life!