Sandra and Kim's story
Sandra and Kim always wanted to have children of their own, but believed that because they were in a same sex relationship, this was not possible. However, after attending a Brent Information event, the couple decided on fostering with the possibility of adopting once they gained more experience.
Here Kim talks about their experience with Brent Placements.
We are a same sex couple and have been together for the past 11 years. I have been a Primary school teacher for the past 14 years and my partner has worked in Childcare for 17 years.
After relocating to Brent, we began looking into fostering and adoption. Following an information event, we decided to look into fostering first as, although we felt we had the capabilities to make good, solid, loving parents, neither of us had been mothers before (apart from my partner's care of young family members).
We underwent a very rigorous assessment procedure which, although necessarily intrusive, was handled with complete professionalism and sensitivity by our wonderful social worker (assigned to us).
After completing a fostering course and passing panel (which really isn't too daunting!) we awaited our first foster child.
In March 2014, a little, 3 month old, bundle of joy joined our household. Despite the early morning wake ups, it was a complete pleasure to look after this little man for the next 4 months. Whilst we provided him with security and comforts, he gave us so much more: the giggles, hugs and smiles of a child are invaluable.
During his stay with us, we also cared for a 7 month old girl on a 2 weeks respite placement. It’s so funny to watch babies interact and play.
After our first child's departure to his aunt's, we were blessed with another baby boy to take care of.
Whilst fostering means that children inevitably move on, the whole experience has been a blessing. Sharing our home with children has only enhanced the fun and love in our household. Whilst my partner has abundant experience of working with babies and toddlers, my experience lay with older children and, so, fostering has taught me a lot. Initially nervous to even change a nappy, I now feel proficient in mothering practicalities and my current foster son and I have great fun times!
Fostering as an experience where you help the little people of our world in their first metaphorical footsteps and we feel fortunate to share part of their lives, fostering is a priceless experience. This experience has prepared the way for our next step as we are also approved adopters and are now looking forward to sharing our lives with our forever child.
Robert was approved as a foster carer by a Local Authority in 2011. He lives in London.
Why did you choose to become a foster carer?
My path into fostering was fuelled by two things; my love of working with children and desire to have a family as well as from working professionally with some amazing foster carers in my work and being inspired by the impact that their involvement made on the children.
How did you find the process?
Very thorough but as I had expected. I was a bit frustrated by some of the processes and time schedules to get things going but once I had been assigned a social worker it quickly got started and I actually found it very revealing and it helped me to work out my own incentives. There were times when it was quite intense and raised some sensitive subjects but I think that it was really important to helping my understand my own potential barriers and sensitivities!
How is life now, with your children?
Great! I love it. I’ve got two children at the moment, one aged 7 who has been with me for 14 months and one who is 11 and who arrived 3 days ago on an emergency placement. They are great and I love having them at home. At times it can be tricky with the logistics of doing school runs and arrangements for contact with parents but it all works out in the end! I have a good network of support with another foster carer who lives locally and Southwark has been great at supporting me as a single carer when I need to juggle work commitments with child care arrangements.
What advice would you give to someone considering fostering?
Think carefully about what kind of support you need and ask questions during the initial process around what support you think you may need in terms of respite, holiday schemes, emergency back up, staying at friends/ families homes, general advice and emotional support.
Positive reinforcement and consistency are very much the keys to success when working with these children with clear routines and a calm safe home environment.
For me I see my time with the children as an intervention and as such them moving on is inevitable and an important part of the process.
Julie and Liz's story
Julie and Liz were approved as adopters by their local authority in 2012 and now have a 20 month old little girl. They live in London.
Why did you choose to adopt?
It made sense to us as it seemed to be the most natural way for us to start a family considering how many children in the care system need homes.
How did you find the process?
Great at the beginning. Our time from enquiry to approval was short and our social worker was very experienced and positive about us being a lesbian couple. Matching was the hardest part but it was worth the wait.
How is life now, with your daughter?
Fantastic. We have been a family of three for just two weeks and our life will never be the same again. We love the giggles, the cuddles, the laughter, and watching her develop and gain in confidence even in this short time has been fabulous to witness.
What advice would you give to someone considering adoption?
Talk to as many people as you can. Read lots of books (Dan Hughes is very good) and spend as much time as you can with other people’s children. Then go for it! It’s one of the best decisions we have ever made!