Fay and Rob's Story
Fay and Rob have been foster carers for just under four years
Fay and Rob have been foster carers for just under four years. They’ve shared their story with us and tell us about balancing foster care with work, taking care of children from different backgrounds, and some of the foster carer stereotypes they’re proud to be breaking down!
Fay: I grew up in a fostering family. My parents were foster carers and I always thought I might like to do it myself someday. When we struggled to have our own children, we decided not to adopt, but we were both interested in becoming foster carers.
I had a really busy job at the time as a community carer and I was working seven days a week. Rob and I hardly saw each other and so we didn’t have a lot of time to discuss fostering or to start looking into it, but it was something we both kept thinking about.
Rob: I knew that would just continue as we were both so busy so I thought it would be a good idea to set a time limit for us to ring up and get some information. I put a reminder in my calendar at work and when that time came, I called Wigan Council and asked all the questions we’d been thinking about and got loads of helpful information. That started the ball rolling and we were eventually approved to become foster carers and Fay was able to give up her job.
Fay: I know some people might think that you can’t be a foster carer if you’ve never had your own children but that’s not true. We both had some experience of being around children and especially taking care of our little nephew, my sister’s baby, so that’s the important thing and I think that helped our application.
My family had always fostered first with so that was our first choice.
Rob: We were also aware that the private fostering sector can be about making money ultimately and we wanted our experience to be about helping young people.
After we were approved as foster carers the children were placed with us quite quickly. When they first came to live with us it was a little bit strange for about a week, but we just got on with it. The biggest challenge for us was that the children placed with us didn’t speak any English at the time. But we started to learn their language and they gradually started to learn English.
Fay: And Google Translate was a big help!
Rob: We tried to be good listeners. And we both took a course in Therapeutic Parenting, which was helpful. It mainly helped us see that a lot of the things we’d started to do naturally were the right things, so it gave us confidence.
Fay: It was a lot about creating a calm home environment and taking a step back or time out when things get hard.
Another challenge we have is being younger ourselves and fostering slightly older children as we know we have to take the ‘parent / carer’ role and not just try to be their friends. The older children are still very young emotionally though and they do very much need us, and they also love to play still, which is lovely.
We’ve started taking care of a new baby recently and it’s really brought out the older children’s caring sides, both for the baby and for me and Rob. They always ask if we’re ok as the baby often keeps us awake at night, and they’re so helpful and considerate.
Rob: One of the nicest things has been seeing the children grow and seeing their personalities start to come out, especially as their English language has developed.
Fay: It can be a hard job, but we have been well supported; our support worker is amazing. She’s been with us throughout and is always happy to meet me at Tesco’s for a brew and a chat if I need it. The children really like her too.
Rob: I’ve also joined the Men’s Foster Group that the council runs, which I’ve found helpful as a source of support. I don’t know why but there seems to be a perception that fostering is a female role. In popular culture, such as on Coronation Street the foster carers always seem to be female, and usually older females too. But you can be a foster carer if you’re male and if you’re younger too!
Fay: That’s so true and I also wanted to say that we do often consider how this experience might be for birth families. We are very aware that we are looking after other people’s babies, and we know what a big responsibility that is and there is never any judgement from us about anyone’s situation.
If I had to sum up being a foster carer, I would say that it’s an unusual job and that there are tough times but it is also really good. When you get a little smile from one of the children it’s all worth it.
Rob: I describe it as; we’re a quirky family, but we are a family. I always say we’re like a jigsaw that looks like it has all the wrong pieces, but somehow it all fits together in the right way.
If you are interested in finding out more about fostering in Wigan, complete our online enquiry form or call 01942 487200.
Posted on Monday 6th November 2023