‘If you never try, you’ll never know’ – why fostering is the best thing Lisa has ever done

Lisa became a foster carer 16 years ago, after plans to become a kinship carer for a friend’s baby fell through. She shares her fostering journey – explaining why choosing to become a foster carer is the best thing she’s ever done.

Lisa started fostering in 2007 and admits, in the early days, there were times she considered throwing the towel in. However, 16 years and around 80 foster children later, she says she’ll continue fostering as long as her mind and body allows her to. Lisa currently cares for two brothers aged 12 and 13, and a 16-year-old boy. Despite the inevitable brotherly bickering that she regularly has to referee, Lisa loves the chaos that comes with being surrounded by young people and the fostering community that has grown around her.  

Lisa shares her life as a full-time foster carer with us, candidly explaining that while it isn’t always easy – the goodbyes can be tough, and the children challenging – it’s still the best thing she’s ever done.  

No one needs to worry about leaving  

Lisa has always had a caring nature. As a child she remembers thinking that all children should have a safe and loving home, and she took on roles in care homes when she got older. Lisa became a mum at 17 when her daughter, Nikki, was born – raising her alone while juggling work commitments.  

However, it was only when a plan to look after a friend’s baby as a kinship carer fell through that Lisa considered fostering, after social workers suggested it was something she should explore.  

Since then, she has fostered around 80 children from the ages of 0 –17, and loves knowing that she can provide a safe and loving home to any child that comes through her door – making it clear to them that no one has to worry about leaving when they turn 18.   

‘I’ve always got on well with children, I enjoy their banter and their innocence. One child calls me “Big Duffy”’, Lisa says.  

‘I love fostering – it’s the best thing I’ve done. There are times when I’ve wanted asked myself “what am I doing?”, but then I remember that parenting is tough. I can’t give up on these children, I have to carry on.  

Young people grow in confidence  

Lisa can describe endless happy memories from being a foster carer, and never hesitates to explain just how rewarding it is. The first time a child says: ‘I love you’, the first time a child hugs her and watching young people grow in confidence under her care are just a few of the things that make fostering so worthwhile. Lisa recalls a time a boy – who was initially ashamed about living in foster care – was able to stand up against stigma he faced from a peer due to being car experienced.  

Lisa says: ‘Seeing children growing in confidence is unreal. One boy’s teacher rang me to tell me that one of the other children had said something to the boy about being in foster care, but he said: “I don’t care, my foster mum loves me and I love my foster mum”. When that boy first came to me, he was embarrassed about being in care, but the fact he is able to speak about it now is amazing!’. 

Like parenting, fostering has its challenging moments, but Lisa says the key to fostering is to not take life too seriously. The more she laughs the more children feel comfortable around her. 

Fostering could be for you 

Lisa urges anyone with even the smallest inkling they might like to become a foster carer to take the leap. There are short-term options people can consider while they decide if longer term fostering is right for them, such as being a respite carer once a month. This helps to give foster families a break and is a fantastic way of helping a child on a short-term basis. 

She says fostering has changed her life in ways she’d never even imagined. Before she started fostering it was just her and her daughter in the house, and it was easy to keep clean and tidy. But with children coming in and out, she’s accepted that some things are more important than having a tidy home.  

She also hails the support of people within her fostering community, such as her fostering support group and the additional training she receives to boost her skills as a carer. Lisa says she’s also eternally grateful for the support she receives from her friends, family and neighbours.  

She says: ‘My fostering isn’t just me, it’s the whole family. They give me respite when I need it and the children I look after are integrated into my family.’ 

She also adds: ‘If you never try, you’ll never know. Helping a child won’t change the world, but it will change the world of that one child.’