Being a foster carer who is Muslim

Naseem and her husband are foster carers for Manchester City Council.

As a Muslim couple in our late 40s we still had that get up and go feeling.  The thing that attracted us to fostering was we simply love children. My husband and I had discussed becoming foster carers when we were in are late 30s, many years ago, but at the time our eldest son was not keen on the idea so we postponed our application.

I later saw an advert on one of the local bus that reignited my interest.  At this time my children were adult and had left the family home. Therefore, we were free to proceed with our application to become carers. We discussed our decision with family and friends in the community; we were surprised at some of the reactions we received as some were very negative. However, one of the community leaders said that fostering a child is rewarding and pointed out that God is please with people who take the time to care for children.

Some cultural differences

As a member of the Muslim community we did come across a few difficulties. The first children we fostered were white British, and the reaction we received from the general public when out with the children was sometimes negative, people would frown upon us and this made us feel uncomfortable. This would happen when we were in both Asian and predominately white British communities. I did not personally see colour as an issue, however culturally there were differences. This is most evident in the way Muslim women dress as in our religion we do not show our legs. I recognised that other cultures do not share the same values. The fact that the young person would show her legs did cause a slight problem when we had visitors or attended community events. Therefore, we had a discussion with our social worker and the young person, and a compromise was agreed whereby the young person would cover her legs when there were visitors and when attending community events.

Another barrier that we had to overcome was when we had White British children who did not like Asian food. Therefore, I had to prepare two meals on a daily basis. After nine months of being in our home the children asked to try some of the Asian dishes and found that they actually liked certain dishes.

We currently care for a Muslim young person. The young person has been in our care for nearly four years and, being a Muslim, understands our values and religion. However, the young person has never expressed an interest in developing a greater understanding about Islam until three weeks ago. The young person has witnessed my husband and I praying a numerous occasions. It has been a pleasure to teach the young person the Islamic prayers.

My religion helps me to cope

As a family we never enforce religion on the young person. We allow them to make the decision if/when they are ready. As a Muslim foster carer I have told all the children we have looked after that being a good person and being respectful is the main aim in life.

I feel my religion helps me to cope with the demands of modern life. My morals and values come from a stable home and loving parents who supported me through the various challenges in life. It is my intention to provide the same level of support and guidance to my foster children. I hope one day the foster children would be able to say that they had a stable home and loving foster carers.

The Fostering Network brings together everyone who is involved in the lives of fostered children and young people to lead, inspire, motivate and support them to make foster care better. To support our work visit or to donate £10 text FOST37 £10 to 7007

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