Matilda has been part of a fostering family all her life. Her parents became foster carers when she was only a baby. At the age of 12 she has helped to change the future of many fostered children already. Matilda loves being part of a foster family and was recently awarded with the Outstanding Contribution by Sons and Daughters award. Here she shares what she thinks about foster care and how it has shaped her as a person.
My family started to foster when I was just four months old, so I don’t know anything else. To me, fostering is normal. If I have to explain what fostering is to someone who doesn’t know about it, I tell them that children come to live with us if they have nowhere else to go. We are their support network. Not all parents can look after their children, and that’s what we are here for.
I think fostering is a really good thing. I talk quite openly about it and don’t shy away from questions. Of course, it’s upsetting when parents are separated from their children, but it’s good that they get support. I don’t know how life would be without fostering but I don’t think I would like it. It would be boring.
My role at home
When a child comes to live with us there is usually a settling in period and lots of ups and downs. We have lots of family time; we sit in front of the TV together, we go on long walks together. We get to know each other as much as possible to find out what we like and dislike and how to manage family dynamics. Before my younger brother moved in with us, I was always the youngest, now I am the oldest. I did take time getting used to it but now I enjoy having more responsibility and taking my brother under my wing. Twice a week I take him back from school with me, we go in a taxi together, just the two of us. It’s a good chance to bond.
I think one of the best fostering memories I have is when we all celebrated Christmas together about two years ago. We went to my nan’s just up the road and had a massive Christmas dinner. It was really exciting. We played Christmas games together which is so much fun with lots of people. There were 22 of us in total. I really enjoy having fostered siblings around, but it can be tough at times. I remember that one of my fostered siblings was in hospital quite a lot for a while and I used to feel a bit left out. Mum and dad were with her loads and could not come to some school events of mine for instance. I didn’t mind at the time but, looking back at it, it was a bit annoying. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but I think I managed the situation well.
Growing up with fostering
I think fostering has meant that I am good at dealing with difficult situations. I sit on the fence and don’t get involved straight away. I learnt that from fostering. When there is an issue with my brother at home I sit back and breathe. I have gained a lot from growing up in a foster family. First and foremost, new siblings. Even though it varies how long children stay with us, we keep in touch with all of them, unless they were adopted. But that only happened once. My sister was with us from when she was nine to 18, and we still call her every day. My other sister just lives in a town close to us and I go to her house a lot.
Visions for the future
If I could make a wish for my foster siblings’ futures, I would want their futures to be as bright as their minds. They are so intelligent. All of them. They have come so far, and I really hope that their future holds many opportunities for them. And as much happiness as there can be. And for myself? I think I would like to foster too. Maybe become a respite carer. Fostering is quite fun!