Diana Kilduff has been fostering for nearly five years with her family and specialises in looking after children with disabilities.
My mum fostered when I was a child and since then I have always wanted to foster. My husband and I had a strong wish to make a difference – we felt we had a lot of love to give and found nothing as fulfilling and rewarding as seeing our children develop and grow.
C has been our first foster child with significant needs. When we got the phone call the future for him was very uncertain. He had been stillborn and without oxygen until, after 24 minutes of resuscitation, his heart started. We were told he would probably have severe disabilities, essentially needing 24 hour care. This didn't put us off. In fact after discussing this with my family we all felt the strong need to help nourish, love and protect him before we'd even met him.
When we visited him at the hospital there was an instant connection and despite all the negative potential outcomes given to us by medical professionals, there was never any doubt in taking on the placement. Despite his brain damage, being diagnosed with cerebral palsy and being registered blind, he is thriving, happy two year old, and his day to day health is brilliant.
My daughters have loved their foster brother from the start. Instead of playing out with friends, they spend endless hours with C helping him to develop and having fun. I think to be so empathetic, caring and patient at their age is just incredible. They truly earnt their Sons and Daughters award from The Fostering Network.
When C was registered blind the girls cried but were also so grown up, going off and researching which led to Lucy (then aged 10) even making a PowerPoint presentation for the family about resources we could use and activities we could do to help him. Jade, who is nearly 16, is a constant help and support. She loves spending time with C and was rewarded with his first big belly laugh. Not knowing if or when he will be able to achieve something makes it so much more special when he does. I have honestly never known a more rewarding feeling.
C has brought so much joy into our lives. If you have discussed practicalities and feel like you could do it too then go for it. Any negatives of fostering a child with additional needs are far outweighed by the positives. Never give up hope, strive to get to that best possible outcome and don't be disheartened by negative things you are told.
We listen to the ‘can't dos’ and look at ways to get around them. At the moment, our little prince may be unable to stand, walk, talk or see very much but the list of what he can do is endless. We never forget that he can smile, laugh, say some sounds even a word or two, eat orally, sit up, hold a toy for a few seconds, clap his hands, command a room with his cuteness and have us in stitches with his cheeky character.
The list could go on and on and my favourite one is that he can give a real big kiss and cuddle and show that he loves us. There really isn't anything that could touch your heart more than that.