If you've long thought of fostering, making that initial call to express your interest is a big step to take. Our newly approved carer, Dan, explains his experience of the initial process.
2020, eh… No more for me, thanks, I’m full.
Amongst the lockdown cock-ups, half-price ‘Spoons and face-mask fashion, might we permit ourselves to find – whisper it – positives?
It might feel glib or self-interested to do so but, in truth, the only experience we can truly control, perceive or understand is our own, so should we actively avoid considering it on its own merits?
For myself, 2020 was The Year. That concrete deadline at which Things Happened. I had, since my parents bowed out from fostering when I was 15, vowed to follow their footsteps and do it myself. By my mid-twenties, my sights were set on starting the ball rolling by 32 at the latest and so, come Hell or high water, that was what I’d do.
Despite an arduous 2019, it’s what I did do – dipping my toe in the water of three different ponds (two Local Authorities; one private fostering agency) in January and tentatively gathering information. I, like anyone, questioned my suitability. I worried that being gay, autistic, working-class, ginger and left-handed might be too niche an offering; that any form identifying my ‘diversity’ would process my answers and implode. I considered, truthfully, if my application was 10% ability and 90% enthusiasm.
The first Local Authority, and the private agency, I contacted did little to allay these fears when they each declined to progress my application – however, both said it was simply a matter of my lack of experience working directly with children that was the stumbling block, and that should I choose to gain such experience, they’d be happy to see me apply in the future. Their respective decisions felt, of course, like rejection but somehow some self-belief burst through and I couldn’t just accept that as the end of my long-held ambitions.
What followed is perhaps as cliché as it gets – so what the heck, let’s lean into it! It felt like such an arbitrary reason to deny me even the chance, and so I used it as motivation; I got back on the horse; I tried again; I dusted myself off - all of that hoary old guff - and I rang Newcastle City Council’s fostering team.
I was terrified, of course, at the prospect of a third rejection but to my utter disbelief I was met with warmth and wit, eagerness and empathy and, more crucially, a tacit acknowledgement of the bigger picture – that I am more than the sum of my life experiences and that I am an individual above and beyond any label that I, or others, might assign to me.
In that short initial conversation a home visit was booked, an explosion lit beneath my excitement and an incalculable gratitude that I had, for once, simply been seen.
If you’re reading this and wondering if fostering is for you… It is.
If you have room to spare and time to give, it’s for absolutely anyone.
And there’s no reason even a global pandemic should get in the way of you exploring the possibility.
If you'd like to find out more about fostering, contact us today.