Sons and Daughters Month 2017: Lauren and Chloe's stories
In 2009 my mum made the decision to foster young adults between the ages of 12 to18.
This became somewhat of a controversial topic with some our family and friends due to the misconception that teenagers are more challenging and potentially dangerous; they were especially worried for me and my younger sister, since we were only around 15 and 13 years old ourselves. However my mum ignored their misplaced fears because she realised teenagers were often overlooked. Everyone wants to foster or adopt a baby or young child but not many people think about teenagers.
My mum wanted to give young adults a chance to change their lives by giving them the skills and emotional support for them to make their own success. Teaching them simple household skills such as cleaning, cooking and generally looking after themselves. My mum helped them believe in themselves so that they could finish school and go onto further education or get their first job. She treated her foster kids no differently from me or my sister. We grew up together and went through the same struggles every teenager goes through. They became my siblings or good friends. We never judged them because of their background. They may have had heavier baggage, behaviour difficulties, or emotional instabilities but our family worked together to help them through it all.
I'm proud of my mum for helping these teenagers flourish into young adults who now have a chance for a better future they may never have had. I have learnt so much through my experience as a daughter of a foster carer. I've been witness to the stigma surrounding those in care. I've listened to their stories, supported them through heartbreaking times and now I want to do more for other young people in care. I also want to educate people and show them that just because someone is in care doesn't mean that they are any different from any other child.
Thankfully those family and friends who had fears and doubts in the beginning have had their eyes and minds opened. Whatever expectations they had were completely washed away once they actually got to know the kids in my mum’s care.
As the daughter of a foster carer I can say that the experiences we have gained as a family are truly invaluable. It feels amazing to have the opportunity to help both children and parents when they are struggling or just need some assistance.
It is surprising still how easy it is to welcome children into the family and think of them as your siblings. It is so rewarding to be able to provide a safe and loving home for children and to be able to watch them grow in trust and confidence each day. Obviously with each age group of children comes new and different experiences, but all of these experiences are equally fantastic to be a part of.
Sometimes it can be hard to say goodbye to the children as they move on to either adoption, permanent foster care or back to their families, but knowing that we played even a small part in their future makes it well worth it. It is great to see the children reaching milestones such as learning to swim or ride a bike as you get to see them develop certain skills and know you were helping them along the way.