Marking their 14th anniversary with FCA Scotland on the 21st July, Elaine and Iain Polk, have dedicated their past decade to providing a loving home for looked after children.
Reflecting back on the beginning of their fostering journey, Elaine said: “I think I was the one who introduced the idea of fostering. When our children were younger, I used to stay at home with them and I think it was one of the happiest times for me so that’s where the conversation started.
“We did think about doing childminding to begin with, just as we had helped looked after friend’s children in the past, but then when we decided to look into fostering and the more we talked about it, the more it just sounded right for us.”
Sharing three birth children, who ranged from 13-17 years when the couple first started to foster, Elaine said: “It has been an experience for all of us. You don’t just start fostering as a couple, it is an entire family decision.”
The couple added: “When we first heard about FCA Scotland, we were really impressed and after reading more about them as an agency, we attended one of their information evenings and the rest has been history.”
Welcoming our first child was a learning curve. Elaine said: “It can be an emotional roller-coaster. We tried our best to maintain a stable and consistent home for the young boy but as he got older, he just needed a more specialist foster carer. Sometimes that’s the way it is and in this case, it worked out for the best for him.”
After this experience, the couple wondered if fostering was for them. Sharing her honest opinion, Elaine said: “The process of welcoming a child into our home was quite a change for our birth children, but it’s a change we were willing to work at and it worked out for the best in the end.”
Taking their time to reflect, the couple considered short break care but after speaking to the FCA Scotland team, the couple soon welcomed twin girls into the home, which was a turning point for the Polk family. Reigniting that passion to foster, Elaine added: “When you open your home, you do open your heart to these children. Unfortunately, the twins got moved by the local authority and that truly felt like a loss in the family as our children adored the twins.
“I do think that was a turning point in our lives as we realised we couldn’t keep doing interim fostering. We couldn’t imagine keep saying goodbye to children that we made a strong bond with which led to our decision to only care for children and young people long term.”
Where there is rain, there is a rainbow. Iain added: “I remember welcoming our first child, and we still talk about it to this day. He came to us when he was four and he has just recently turned 16 which was a great milestone to celebrate. He also has additional learning needs so that was also our first experience for us but the whole experience just felt natural.
“FCA Scotland are really great at helping and identifying your strengths. We actually have another child who has been with us for 4 years now and her needs are even more complex but helping to look after children with learning disabilities has just been something we would never have known we were good at without the help of FCA Scotland.”
For the couple, one of the most rewarding parts of fostering has been being a part of their foster children’s journeys. Elaine said: “Both children have flourished since they first came to us.
Iain added: “Sometimes we overlook these changes just because we are living with them every day but then you get a reality check like this experience, and it makes you realise the positive impact we have had on young people’s lives.”
For those looking to become foster carers, the couple shared some of their advice. Elaine said: “Honestly, it is the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do. Just make sure you go along to the ‘Journey to Foster’ sessions because you learn so much. You will continue to learn when you welcome your first child, but just learn as much as possible to make sure this is the right path for you and your family.”
Iain added: “It is not a job or a career; it is a way of life. It is not for everybody but if you dip your toes in and you like it, run with it because you will never look back.”
Thinking about starting your fostering journey?
24/7 local support, excellent ongoing training and competitive allowances are just a few of the reasons why you should choose FCA Scotland for your fostering journey.
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