Ruth's story

Ruth shares her reflections of fostering in Stoke on Trent

We spoke to Ruth, a foster carer in Stoke on Trent. She’s shared with us some reflections from her experience caring for children.

What was it that motivated you to get involved in fostering?

We had never thought about fostering until my daughter and I just happened upon a television programme about teenage children who had been bullied at school. One of the boys in the show had been a carer for his Mum and during the time they were filming the programme, his mum died. We were really impacted by his story, but also by the wonderful older lady who fostered him and loved him through the situation.

My daughter was inspired, she said “Mum, we should do that!” But we didn’t have enough space in our home for an older child, and I thought that foster carers for teenagers and older children were what the local authority really needed. However, my daughter wasn’t swayed by this, and she began to look into fostering babies and toddlers, thinking that could be right for us.

I’m a naturally cautious person, but a lady at my church prayed for our family, asking that in the coming week God would make very clear to us His purpose for us. Well, that week we saw so many posters about fostering, TV adverts, and even a huge banner promoting fostering on a roundabout while we were driving to visit my mum!

We applied, went through assessment, and did our training, and were approved to be short-term foster carers with Stoke on Trent City Council. This means we look after children, mostly babies or toddlers, for short periods while a decision is made about a plan for them going forward. It’s been 10 years since we were approved, and our current foster child is the 13th we have had the privilege of caring for.

Can you tell us about some of the challenges you’ve encountered, and some of the joys?

Looking after babies and toddlers is a 24/7 role, and at times it really can be exhausting. And as well as caring for the children, foster carers need to be available for meetings, training, and contact with birth family, and this can take a lot of time and energy. One of the biggest challenges is, of course, the goodbyes - we go through a sort of grieving process each time.

However, often our interaction with birth families is so rewarding, we have the absolute joy of saying that many of the children we have cared for have gone home to family or to stay with extended family members or close friends. We still get to see a number of them every now and then.

Every child we have looked after has been an absolute blessing, and have brought us so much joy. Fostering truly has enriched our lives immeasurably.

What role has your church played in supporting you?

We belong to a house group and the leader of our group has covered us with so much prayer. This has been a huge support to us, and has made an enormous difference.

If you are surrounded by a praying church – God answers prayer. if we could get every church in Stoke on Trent praying for vulnerable children and children coming into care, I’m sure that we would see people motivated and called to step forward as foster carers, and churches and communities inspired to wrap around and support families!

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Stoke City Council have over 1,000 children in care and have faced a 45% rise in children coming into care over the past three years. The City Council’s fostering team tell us that they urgently need at least 35 new foster families to help every child have the home they need.

If you think you could offer a vulnerable child a safe and loving home through fostering, or want to find out more about how you or your church can play your part in finding a home for every child who needs one, we would love to hear from you.

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