Anna's story

Anna used to think fostering was only for 'extraordinary' people, but through Home for Good she came to realise that she could do it too.

When people ask why we foster, the answer comes very easily: because God calls us to love and care for vulnerable people. The Bible is very clear about it, and for us at this point in our lives, this is what we can do to practically respond to that. It’s not easy and I don’t always feel that we know what we’re doing, but we trust that God’s power will be made perfect in our weakness as we seek to love the children placed with us.

How we came to foster has a much longer answer.

We got married in 2012 and have always talked about adopting. My husband was adopted from overseas when he was a child, so we feel that adoption will be part of our story. I’d never considered fostering though, because surely that was something reserved for really special, extraordinary people.

A couple of years after our wedding, we read the Home for Good book, and I went to a Home for Good seminar at a women’s conference, but adoption felt so far away and the need was pressing right now.

We heard about a local Home for Good information evening so we went along to support it, and we were struck by the story of the foster carers who shared. They were ordinary people – doing an extraordinary thing, yes, but ordinary people that God was using to do something really important.

We asked to meet with them to chat some more, and my husband and I talked a lot. In November 2015, we went for it and contacted the local authority.

Our assessment was fine. We had a great social worker and we’re both quite open, which does help as it can feel quite intrusive. But it’s important to ensure we’re able to give children consistent and appropriate care, and that we have a good support network around us.

Our church has been an absolutely incredible support to us, from the point of application through our assessment and now as we’re caring for children.

They have prayed for us, cooked us meals, cleaned for us, organised playdates, offered parenting help when we needed it (which we did, we’re new at this!), and everyone has made an effort with all the children we’ve cared for. We spoke to the children’s church leaders to ensure they were prepared and they’ve been great, and so many people gave the children birthday cards too.

Our first placement was a sibling group of three, aged five, six and seven. They were part of our family for six months, and all celebrated a birthday while they were with us. It was a real privilege to be able to mark these special days with them when they hadn’t really done that before. We organised parties and they chose their favourite dinners and got to blow out candles. We loved doing simple things to make their birthdays special. It was such a joy to celebrate with them, and watch them experience things, possibly for the first time.

We witnessed them growing in confidence – from never having been in a pool before to progressing through swimming lessons, and from them struggling to develop friendships to having a close little circle of friends. Their language expanded and they did well academically. The eldest had started reception late and had always been classed as ‘lower ability’, but in his review just before moving on from us the teacher said he was now a ‘higher ability’ child!

Having to say goodbye to them after those six months was tough, but we weren’t distraught as perhaps people might expect us to be. I feel that we loved them and cared for them in every way that we could, but we always knew they wouldn’t be with us long term. We had a specific role to support them through a specific time so to say good-bye as they moved on to their long-term home was the right thing to do and it felt positive.

We’ve had other short-term placements as well, and the encouragement we get from being part of our local Home for Good support group is invaluable. It’s just wonderful to be able to talk to others about the struggles that only fostering presents, hear how other people are getting on so you feel less alone, and talk through decisions, knowing that they understand the emotional turmoil and frustrations.

We couldn’t do this without the support that comes from Home for Good linking foster carers and adopters together!

My advice to anyone considering fostering is, if you can, do it. It’s an outworking of God’s love for us – the gospel should lead us to love others as Jesus loves them. It will be hard. You will probably cry a lot and feel overwhelmed most of the time, question whether you can actually do it and if you’ve made the right decision, and it may well not pan out in the way you expect.

But God loves these children in their brokenness, just as He loves us in our brokenness, and we can be a vessel for His love in their lives. We do it in HIS strength, not our own.

'We love because He first loved us.'1 John 4:19

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