Rachael and Andy’s fostering story
I was working in a respite care home for profoundly disabled children and children with life limiting disabilities. It was there that I was first asked if I would consider fostering a young person at the respite home. I went home to my husband and we talked about fostering but he had the same images that many people have of hard work teenagers (we had been there and done that with our own children!). I explained that it would be very rewarding to use the skills we had, and we could make such a difference to a disabled child that needed a long term family. Andy agreed with me as did our son who was a teenager at the time. Our assessment was completed, and we were approved foster carers. We started by providing short breaks for other Amicus carers, but we always wanted to foster long term and we started the search for a child that would be a good match for our family. I remember the matching process seemed to take ages! But eventually, we saw the profile for a little 5 year old boy, he had learning disabilities and other development delays. He had our hearts from the first meeting, and I gave my notice to my employers.
The first year was very busy, with many hospital visits, but he fitted in very well and he was such a happy child. We had a great Amicus supervising social worker, (who we still have) who was there any time we needed support. After a few years we decided that we would like to have another child to become part of our family, and we were matched with a little 6 year old boy who was in hospital having chemo for cancer. He stayed with us for four years and eventually returned home and now he has been given the all clear from the hospital. Our other foster child really missed him when he went, as did we. We had a year with just one child but obviously we were having it too easy! We had various short-term placements with other children and young people, but we preferred to have a long term child, and we welcomed another child with autism two years ago.
Nine years on from our first foster child, who is still with us, our own kids are now adults, and they provide respite for us, as under Amicus benefits, we get 21 nights per year respite allowance which, however much you think you won’t use it, you really do need the time to recharge your batteries, so you can continue to make a difference to children and young people.