The Parker Family
We started fostering 7 years ago and I have always been the main carer. Our original approval was 0-18 years, short term and respite care; however, we have recently been asked to take on our two current children, two brothers aged 11 and 8 years) on a long term basis. We feel that the boys fit within our family and are settled in their schools, so when this opportunity came up we were happy to proceed.
Before becoming a foster carer I was a sales manager for an electronics company for many years, initially in the UK and subsequently in Europe. I seemed to be forever travelling and was away from home a lot. I have visited many of western Europe’s major cities but visiting for business and pleasure are two very different experiences. Friends and family were always saying what an interesting job I had but in reality it was mostly just airports, hotels, factories, exhibitions and conferences. Then I hit 50 and began to think that there was more to life and other things I wanted to do.
We first thought about fostering when Pauline saw an advert in the local newspaper. We talked about it over the Christmas period and given that our own children were older (our daughter had already flown the nest ) they just didn’t need us like they used to, we now had the time and space to consider this as a new career so we decided to just go for it. We applied and within 9 months were approved. I gave up my job and Pauline continued her work at a local hospital; a job she enjoyed. I stayed at home and became a full time foster carer and house husband. I wasn’t sure at first but I really took to it. I was able to get more involved with the day to day parenting of the foster kids.
Since approval we have fostered a dozen children; the majority of whom have been sibling groups. It has it’s challenges, but is also very fulfilling and I really enjoy the “nuts and bolts” side of looking after young people, breakfast, the school run etc, which I had largely missed out on with my own kids.
We couldn’t have done it without the help and support of our birth children. The key thing for us when we started fostering was that our kids were already late teens and older and we felt able to bring other children into the household without them feeling pushed out. They are such great role models for the children we have looked after. All our foster children look up to them and would often much rather do activities with them than with us! Our birth children’s friends also often visit the house and have also become like extra big brothers and sisters to the foster kids.