Baby carer has late nights, early mornings and broken sleep to help babies take their first steps in life
16 September 2019
Every day is a busy day for Sam. When she’s not holding, bathing, feeding or playing with the baby she is fostering, she’s doing something else around the house. We caught her for a brief moment before she had to start again and get the baby ready for a meeting with the birth family. With the cute noises of the little one in the background, this energetic baby foster carer speaks to us about what it is like to foster babies and what they need to take their first firm steps in life.
Since her approval as a Brent foster carer over two years ago, Sam has looked after seven children. Despite running a big household with a full-time working husband, two daughters and five pets, Sam still feels that she can help a baby make their first steps in life. ‘It’s a hard job because you have late nights, early mornings and, broken sleep, but every single part of it is worth it because you know that you’re giving the best that you can to a little baby.’
She first thought of fostering when she and her sister, Julie, were watching an edition of Surprise Surprise when a mum was reunited with all the foster children she had cared for. ‘My sister is a foster carer and she encouraged me to do it. Me and my partner, we’ve discussed it a lot about three years ago, and we decided it was for us and that we were ready.’
It wasn’t easy at first when Sam brought fostering into her family’s life. ‘At the beginning, my youngest daughter Alexandra told me that she was jealous. We talked about it and I said to her that I can find something else to do if this makes her unhappy.’ But, in the end, Alexandra accepted all the children that come into her life and now, at the age of 10, she considers herself a foster carer. ‘My partner, he’s very good with children. On our last holiday he did everything for me and the children while I managed to relax.
‘Having the children come to you for the first time is memorable.’ However, before meeting the child, Sam says, ‘you have a lot of questions: how are you going to feel, are you going to love the baby, are you going to be relaxed because it’s someone else’s child. But, actually, I found that I’ve been more relaxed that I could have ever imagined. They’ve become the biggest part of our life.’ Sam and her family developed such strong bonds with the children that separation has been hard every time. “We’ve loved all the children that came in and it’s been very sad to see them go. But knowing that they went back to their families was the best part and also the fact that we’re still in contact with the children. The families have taken us into their lives, which is nice.’
According to Sam, ‘to be a baby carer you have to be loving, kind and patient because there’s no set routine with the baby. You need to make the routine and help them feel safe, comfortable and loved, and also make it fit in with your own schedule.’ At one point Sam looked after a baby and his two siblings who didn’t speak any English. ‘That busy placement was a bit disruptive at first, but once we established a routine, it was easy to manage. I used Google Translate to be able to speak to the children and by the end of our time together they also learned the words to express their love for us.’
The support she got from everyone around her made a real difference. ‘Everybody we’ve met in Brent was open and honest. I couldn’t have done this without my other half and my sister. I’ve got some very close friends who help me a lot and are my support. You’re left to your own devices as such, but if you need to speak to someone you can.
‘I intend to foster until I physically cannot. We love having children around and they also enjoy our company, and being around our pets, of course.’