When Phil’s wife suggested to him that they should considering fostering, he was about to turn 40. In his own words he was “due a midlife crisis”. Although everything in life was going well – great wife, two wonderful birth children and a busy job. However, as he thought about it, he came to the conclusion that fostering could be a very worthwhile way to use his life.
Phil still had concerns though. He wondered how it would impact his family. At this time he happened to meet up with an old friend who had been fostering for many years. He suggested that, while it had its challenges; their experience of fostering was that it had enhanced their family life.
As they progressed through the assessment process, Phil often felt like the odd one out. “As a middle-classed, middle-aged male, I did not fit the typical profile and found myself on a training course full of people very different from myself.” He goes on to say that the course was a real eye-opener as to how restricted the opportunities can be for children in care.
Phil has found that fostering is a roller-coaster of emotion. He says: “When one little lad arrived he could hardly talk. He hated eye contact and just stared at the fridge door. His behaviour was sometimes challenging – which is a fostering euphemism for really tricky! A year later the social worker told us that ‘our family had made him adoptable’. A few months later he went to live with his family. I always well up with tears when I think about him.”
He goes onto say: “Being in Asda as a foster child has a massive meltdown is something that I have not quite got used to!” He also acknowledges that one of the biggest challenges is trying not to judge the birth parents. He has concluded that he has to focus on what his role is. “My job is to love the child and be their advocate.”
Phil admits that they would have really struggled without the support of their church: “A quick shout out on Facebook has provided us with toys, emergency clothes and car seats. Our foster children have all been welcomed by the other kids in our church, and some have maintained these friendships when they have left our care. These may well prove to be the most stable relationships in the lives of these foster children.”