Fostering case studies - Kathryne and Graham

Graham and I are new to the world of fostering - well actually that's not strictly true. We've only been registered foster carers for the last year or so but I work for Barnardo's and Graham's family used to foster children. So while we know how things work, it's very different being on this side of the fence.

We always said when we got married that we'd become foster carers at some stage, it was never a question of "if", more of "when." So once our children were old enough to understand what was going on and also old enough to help out, we got our ducks in a row. We looked into fostering with an Independent Fostering Agency, but we found that to foster with them we would have been required to give up work and become a foster carer full time. This works for some people but I didn't want to do that- I love my job! Also, as Graham works shifts and I'm part time there is always someone at home so it wasn't necessary.

Our application with the council was processed relatively quickly, about nine months, and we've had children here pretty much from day one. At the moment we have two brothers under six who are waiting to be adopted. It's crackers really that they haven't been adopted already, but these things take time. They're such loving and clever little boys who would want nothing more than to have a Mum and Dad, and whoever gets to call them their sons will be very lucky people. Our friends ask whether we're tempted to adopt them ourselves, but we didn't start fostering to extend our family we're here to help the children on their way and give them a positive future.

While the children are here they are part of our family. For example, we have parties for birthdays and invite all our family, just as you would for your own children. Also, last week Graham spent hours and hours running round the garden teaching the little one to ride a bike without stabilisers - he's cracked it now and it's great to see him cycling around outside without a care in the world. I'm not sure who is more chuffed, Graham or our new cycling champion.

We're off to Disneyland Paris in summer (much to Graham's distress, he hates rides so will be our glorified bag holder) and we wouldn't dream of not taking the boys. I won't lie, it's a bit of a paperwork palaver, but our social worker's been great at helping us fill out all the right forms and getting their passports, so fingers crossed the passport office do their bit and get them here in time.

One thing we didn't predict was how involved our own children would be. They love it, and I guess that makes it so much easier. They're happy to baby sit or play in the garden with the kids. Our daughter is considering a career in social care and has actually put herself forward to sit on the Brother and Sisters Council - it really is like being part of Cumbria's Biggest Family.

I'm not saying it's all been easy, it hasn't, but the good days make the hard ones worthwhile.

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