In August 2021, seven-year-old Marcus* joined Jack, Milly, Esme and Ivo’s family. This is the first Christmas they are spending together as a family of five which they are all very excited about.
Last Christmas was very different for Marcus. Marcus’ dad died from a drug overdose. His mother struggled to cope with her own addictions and the loss of her partner. Marcus was taken into emergency care. Sadly, this didn’t work out and a new long-term home needed to be found for Marcus. Then in August 2021, Marcus was introduced to Aberlour foster carers Jack and Milly.
Jack and Milly’s Story
From the moment we first heard about Marcus, we felt a strong connection with him and expressed an interest in looking after him. It took around a month from first hearing about him, meeting him and lots of other meetings, until he moved in with us in August.
He is a whirlwind of energy and brings lots of joy to our family.
Jack and I had been discussing becoming foster carers for a very long time but with a busy work and family life there was no time to ‘smell the roses’ as they say and think about our future properly. Then the first lockdown happened. This was a challenging time for the whole nation but the positives for us were that we got to spend more time as a family and take a step back and think about the direction of our lives. Every day we were hearing on the news about other people’s struggles. That put a different perspective on the safety and comfort as a family we were able to enjoy. It became clear to us that we were at a point in our lives that we could offer a safe, loving home to a child who needed one. After a lot of research, we found Aberlour. Aberlour is a highly respected care provider and the charity values and ethos fit very closely with our own. So in August 2020 I picked up the phone and started our journey.
After nearly nine months and the longest most in-depth interview of our lives, we had finally achieved our dream job. We were foster carers!
Then there was the wait. It was difficult. But the Aberlour team always explained the importance of the matching process for both the foster carers and the child. It has to be right. With Aberlour’s support we have found the perfect match in Marcus.
Now we are ready to celebrate Christmas as a family of five.
It’s such a privilege being able to spend our first Christmas together and to shape Marcus’ impression of what Christmas is and what it can be. We understand that Christmas time can be overwhelming and a trigger for any child but especially for a child like Marcus who hasn’t had the best start. We have been trying to balance things between feeling magical and special but also low-key and stress free.
For example, we must be very careful talking about Father Christmas with Marcus. It is very daunting for child to be told a stranger is coming down the chimney in the middle of the night, especially a child with Marcus’ background. That threatens his feeling of safety at home.
Marcus has no point of reference for what Christmas will be like for him as part of our family, he has no expectations. We have all had great fun putting up the Christmas tree together, opening our advent calendars every morning and starting our own new traditions. Esme, who is 19, and Ivo, who is 16, have really enjoyed revisiting their childhoods again by viewing Christmas through the eyes of their little brother. Some of the board games we played as a young family have already come back out of the cupboard. Having Marcus around makes us all more conscious of the magic of this time of year again.
It is so important for Marcus to be part of our family at Christmas.
These rare occasions when we are all together are so precious. We want to fold him into the warmth, love and contentment that come from these days together. Work, school and other obligations should not get in the way of fun, enjoyment and quality time together.
The past four months have flown by. We are so proud of Marcus and how he is blossoming. The simple moments together like our family yo-yo spinning contests or listening to all our children singing together in the car, being silly together or cuddling up at story time are so precious.
As a family we want to help Marcus to achieve his full potential in life. To know he is loved and safe. To enjoy all that education can provide him, to make friends and creating meaningful relationships. But most of all to be happy.
If anyone reading this is thinking about becoming a foster carer then do it.
If you have lots of energy, patience and want to make a difference this could be your dream job. If you find it easy to remain playful, accepting, curious and empathetic when parenting (or working with children), then you are cut out for this role. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to shape a child’s future positively and to see them blossom and grow under your care. Being a foster carer is not easy, but the rewards are deeply felt and life-changing for you, your family and the child you are looking after. Go for it.
Milly & Jack
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