The road to becoming a foster parent can be challenging, but someone in the right position has the ability to make a positive and lasting impact on people’s lives. This week, Laura, a Parent and Child Foster Parent shares her story with us. She has literally changed her life to be able to take on this rewarding role that for almost 30 years she had her sights set on.
“I’m a people person. Even when I worked in law as a floating secretary, I was someone people liked working with.” Laura is smiling. She’s a natural nurturer who transitioned into counselling work, and later, hypnotherapy. All jobs that require emotional intelligence she says, which is fundamental to care work.
After many years of thinking about it - and a couple of failed applications - she’s now moving into Parent and Child fostering.
“I always wanted to be a foster parent, and I had tried twice before finding Anchor Foster Care.”
“The first time was many years ago, in the ‘80s. I was working, and I had small children of my own. I hadn’t realised you couldn’t work when fostering. Also, at that time, you couldn’t participate in mother and baby fostering [as it was known then] when you had your own children at home.”
“The second time I applied was just four years ago. I got to the panel stage but was turned down because I was too reliant on the income of my long-term lodgers. I learned afterwards that my application should never have been put forward, but they really wanted to work with me.”
“Eventually I downsized my home and moved closer to my children. I’m now in the right position, and actually Anchor Foster Care has been excellent to deal with. Everyone I have had contact with really cares about their work. Even my third-party adjudicator said that about them during my application, which says a lot.”
What moves someone to foster a parent and child?
Laura pins her motivations on her experiences as a child, which led her to becoming a mum too early. Experiences that made her empathetic to anyone experiencing similar issues with no support.
“I remember wishing my mum’s sister was my mum. She was the best. In comparison to my friend’s mothers, mine was always severely lacking. She admitted to me when I got older that she tried to put my brother in care.”
“It wasn’t really my mum’s fault. As a child, she had a near-fatal accident and was restricted of air for some time. As I grew up, it occurred to me - and other members of my family - that my mum might have suffered brain damage.”
“My first memories are of my father shouting at my mother. She used to make a game out of us hiding from him. It means you grow up older than your time. I realise now, my mum did her best, she just didn’t know how to be a good mum, but children are the innocent victims in their upbringing.”
Laura’s parents worked day and night, and she and her brother were left to take care of themselves. “We were turfed out in the mornings and expected to get home once it got dark. I was exposed to some dangerous situations.”
Her home situation meant she lacked courage to confide in the adults around her when things went wrong. One such situation occurred when a teacher behaved inappropriately towards her in primary school. “He told me if I told anyone, I’d be in big trouble. My intuition told me what he did was very wrong, but I didn’t feel anyone would believe me.”
It’s no surprise that at age 17, Laura wanted to leave home. She was pressured by her mother to marry her first boyfriend, but in her early 20s was abandoned after falling pregnant, at a time when being a single mother carried a huge stigma. “So, I know very well what it’s like to be a young mum without support. I was incredibly frightened. I thought I’d have to give my daughter up for adoption.”
Luckily Laura had her wider family to depend on. When she eventually met her husband Daniel, he adopted her daughter as his own. He felt great empathy for Laura because he himself had been adopted as a child and was on his own journey to finding his mum.
These experiences meant Laura frequently pondered the tough situations many are faced when they become parents for the first time, especially if they don’t have families or are growing up in abusive situations.
Putting good into the World
She’s philosophical about her and Daniel’s own situations: “It made us good parents because we joked about how not to do it. Our children are very successful.” Laura is incredibly proud of her children, who are currently spending their time running successful businesses, working on the front-line during Covid and operating in, tech-for-social-good.
“I know that Parent and Child fostering might be challenging in some ways, but if they haven’t had the experience of a good mother, then they are likely to be overwhelmed.” Laura summarises, “Me becoming a mother has made me realise there must be lots of people in this situation. And I was acutely aware, even as a young child, of my mum not being able to cope with her children. I think about my brother who was labelled troublesome because he was very intelligent, and my mum couldn’t stimulate him.”
“All this has made me a perceptive and nurturing person. I want to help people where I can because I know how hard it is.”
Do you think you could foster a parent and child?
Parent and Child Fostering is designed to work with vulnerable families to keep them together whilst safeguarding children’s needs. If, like Laura, you have always wanted to take part in this type of care, read the resources on our website.
Read more about Parent and Child Fostering.
Am I eligible for Parent and Child Fostering?
If you’re unsure if you are eligible, read the dedicated section of our website which explains who is eligible to foster. You can take a look at our mythbusting section too while you’re there, it’s very useful.
Want to hear from more foster carers?
Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals in this article.