Meet Lynda. She and her husband Joe have been foster parents to Dylan*, their “loveable rogue” for three years now with Aberlour. Here Lynda describes the highs and lows of the incredible journey of fostering, urging others to do the same to meet a real need.
“We wanted to help… what better way than fostering?”
“My husband Joe was adopted when he was four having lived in a children’s home before that” describes Lynda. “Right from the start of our relationship, Joe had made it very clear that he’d like to have his own family but also to help another child in the way that he was helped. We’d also done our research and realised how many kids needed help and were stuck in the system and don’t get their chance. We wanted to help and what better way could we do that than foster?
“I was really impressed with what Joe’s foster parents had done for him so for us it was about waiting until our own two kids were at a stage when they were ready to handle it and they’ve been amazing.”
The Fostering Process
Dylan had been taken into care at the age of five following some very difficult experiences. Approaching his ninth birthday, he was introduced to Lynda and Joe.
“The assessment and matching process for us was very quick” says Lynda”. “As part of it, we’d made up a scrap book for Dylan for his social worker to show him who we were, pictures of our dogs and the things we liked to do as a family.
“Kerryanne from Aberlour Fostering took our sons out for an ice cream, got to know them and very informally asked the relevant questions about how they felt about fostering. The kids were never fearful or worried about it actually – they were very accepting of it all and quite matter of fact about it.
“But we have had to make adaptations as a family. We knew that going into things. Outside the home, no one would know Dylan has any needs really. He plays well with the kids in the street and he’s in mainstream primary school right now along with my youngest son Calum. Going to the same school as Calum has worked a treat – he’s never missed a day at school except for illness.
“It’s inside the home that’s difficult – he doesn’t cope well with rules and everyday routines. He can be very angry and his outbursts can be quite extreme. We were worried how far he might go at points. But we’ve had a lot of really good support. He’s currently undergoing some mental health assessments and we’ve worked to build a structure for Dylan and for our other two sons. They’ve come along way.
aberlour’s excellent fostering support network
“What made us decide to foster was the support package that Aberlour provides and the reassurance that you’re not doing it all yourself. They provide a lot of initial and ongoing training to help you find those strategies of helping your child. You get to meet other carers and learn from them too as to what they find helpful.
“The support network is excellent: you can phone at any time and if you need someone to come out to the house, they will. For Dylan, knowing Aberlour is there in the background is also really helpful and encouraging to him.
“One weekend a month we use Aberlour’s short break respite service. We didn’t want to use respite care at first but we discovered that whilst we coped well, our boys needed a break from time to time. We discovered actually that respite was helpful – it helped Dylan knowing he could have a break and a change of scene, as well as providing a break for us too.”
Asked what Lynda would say to someone considering fostering, she said unflinchingly “If you’ve got an empty room, then please use it! I would just wish more people would come forward to foster.
“It’s been such a rewarding thing to do. It’s very tiring. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had to do but so rewarding as you see so many little changes take place and you can say, ‘I’ve helped with that’.”
*Real name changed to protect anonymity.