Meet Thomas and Alison, they have been foster carers with Aberlour for 12 years. Alison shares their story of why they become foster carers and why others should too.
Our Fostering Story
No Child Should Stay In A Residential Unit
I can vividly remember when I decided I wanted to become a foster carer. When I was 14 years old, my aunt died. My uncle couldn’t cope so my young cousin was taken into care and ended up staying in a residential unit. I remember going to visit her and thinking ‘oh god, I wouldn’t want to stay here.’ After that I made the decision that I would become a foster carer when I was older. I thought no child should stay in a residential unit like that.
Then when my daughter turned 5 and my son was 7, my husband and I decided it was time to foster. My children are now 34 and 37. Now in her thirties, my daughter can’t actually remember a time when I didn’t foster.
Thomas and I have been fostering for 29 years, 12 of which have been with Aberlour. I think we have fostered around 70 children over the years, if not more.
Aberlour’s Support Is Second To None
We are currently full-time foster carers and have a 15-year-old boy staying with us at the moment. Aberlour’s support is second to none, it really is the best. They have a fantastic on call support service. Within 30 minutes of phoning the team someone will be in your house, helping you. They are there if you need them. You can get challenging behaviour but with Aberlour they are always there, nothing is a problem. We all sit down as a team and try and sort it out.
Aberlour support and involve your whole family throughout the fostering process. For example, today Aberlour will keep in touch with my biological grandchildren who I provide child care for. Aberlour asks them how they get on with the foster children I look after to make sure there is no negative behaviour impacting on them. Aberlour include your biological family in all trips or parties to ensure everyone feels included. Not only have my family embraced the foster children into our family but Aberlour has embraced my family into their family.
The Children We Have Looked After Will Always Have Us As A Family
I’m very lucky, most of the children I have fostered keep in touch with me. I still get Easter and Christmas cards from babies that I looked after 20 years ago that were adopted. I still get cards sent to me from their families with up to date pictures and things.
With Thomas and I, the children we have looked after will always have us as a family. Someone who remembers them, who has memories of them growing up. All the children I have looked after from Aberlour still visit on a regular basis.
I am very proud of one of the girls we have looked after since she was 3; sadly her mum could no longer look after her as she had Huntington’s disease. When she was a teenager Aberlour contacted her with an opportunity through Who Cares? Scotland to apply to attend Harvard University for a summer camp. Within 30 minutes she had filled out the application form; and she won her place! I was so proud of her to have the confidence to go for it and to go to America. She is now a nurse in an A&E department.
I don’t like to think of what could have happened to the children if we hadn’t fostered them. Over my years I have had newborn babies straight from the maternity, I have had older ones, I have had teenage mothers; I’ve fostered mothers and their babies. So, a lot of the kids I looked after would have went into a residential unit if we hadn’t taken them in. Or a lot of my teenagers would have went into a secure unit. If they had went there, they wouldn’t have had the support to change the path they were on.
Anyone Can Be A Foster Carer
To anyone thinking about becoming a foster carer, I would say it is the best thing you can do but do not to expect it to be an easy ride or to do it just for the money. It is hard going. If you’re not 100% sure becoming a foster carer is for you then try short-breaks then short term and work your way up. Then that way you aren’t hurting any child if it isn’t for you. The kids we get have been damaged enough, you don’t want to take them on and say this isn’t for me
A lot of people think they need to be rich or really clever to be a foster carer. When all they need is a good heart, a sense of humour and a spare bedroom. You don’t need qualifications. Another thing that puts people off is ‘oh, I never had a good upbringing’ or ‘this happened in my life when I was a child.’ But they make the best carers because they can empathise with the kids because they have been there and done it themselves. They can understand. Fostering isn’t just for a certain type of person; anyone can be a foster carer.
Could you change a child’s future? Contact our fostering team for more information.