Fostering case studies - Hazel`s story

My husband and I have been fostering for about five years now. We're registered to foster children of all ages but we usually take children under two and only one child at a time. My husband works full time at our family business and I now work part time from home doing the books. It's good to keep the grey cells going, there are only so many times you can watch Mr Tumble! I fit my work in when the children sleep or are on contact visits.

One of the reasons we wanted to get into fostering was that my sister was adopted. She was in a children's home and then moved twice when she was little. She didn't have a settled time or continuity of care. She has very few pictures, keepsakes or memories of her early childhood. We wanted to make that difference for the children we welcome into our home, giving them a stable place where they can feel secure. We also keep photographs, keepsakes and record their firsts so they can take those with them to their permanent homes; we know how important they will be to them in the future. The application process wasn't that intrusive. Yes, there are lots of questions but they're all necessary, you're going to be looking after the most precious little people in the world. They talked to our family and friends, did lots of paperwork and then it was all over. In fact it was a lot faster than we thought it would be.

It's been a few years since we had a baby in our home, and to start with it was a bit of a shock to the system with night feeds etc, but fostering fits in so well with our lives. We're home bodies really so it's not like we're missing out on going out all the time - although, there is the odd time when we desperately long for a good nights sleep. We are part of a local church with lots of children so we tend to get together with other families for outings and holidays. One added bonus is we get to play with all the latest toys again (we're just big kids really).

We take a break between each placement to recharge our batteries and sort the house out and then we accept another little person. We always consider carefully before we say yes to another child, we want to make sure that once we accept them into our home, that's it until they either go back home or are adopted, we don't want them to have to be moved or go through any more disruption in their lives than is necessary.

Our family are very supportive, but it goes beyond that. We have our network of friends, the church, our social worker and the child's social worker to support us. Everyone comes together to give this child the best start in life. It's an awesome thing to be part of.

It is hard when it's time for the children to move on, you become very attached to them. But it's so rewarding to have the honour of seeing them recover, grow and progress in a loving and secure place. We still see some of the children we have fostered and it is such a blessing to see them happy and doing well.

Our only regret is that we didn't do this years ago.

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