Sue a foster carer from Glasgow sat down to share her fostering journey over the past eighteen years.
Eighteen years ago, foster carer, Sue embarked on a new journey with Foster Care Associates Scotland (FCAS), which has led her to become one of the fostering agency’s longest standing carers.
During her youth, Sue shared that during her teenage years she had several friends who were in the foster care system, but it wasn’t until reconnecting with an old friend that fostering became a part of her life.
Sue said: “During the time, my friend kept telling me over and over again that I would make a good foster carer and after meeting her young people, I actually began doing some respite for her. After that, it all just fell into place, and I began my fostering journey.”
After having three of her own birth children, Sue said: “I think that by having my own biological children first greatly helped me feel ready for a new journey but also prepared to look after teenagers.
“Although I am getting a bit older now, in some ways I have never grown out of being a fun and rebellious child, and I feel that has really helped me relate to my own children as teenagers and the young people I have had in my care.”
Throughout her 18 years of fostering, one of the most challenging parts of fostering has been non-attachment. Looking after roughly 40+ young people in her time as a foster carer, Sue reflected on one particular placement and said: “Non-attachment has been difficult for me. It rarely happens but as foster carers, you have to be aware and be able to spot the signs of it.
“You must remember you can’t succeed at everything as a foster carer and sometimes it is just not a part of the young person's journey to stay in your care. I know at the end of the day, I tried my best to support them.”
One of the most rewarding moments for Sue was seeing the positive changes in young people's behaviour, especially around trust.
Reflecting on one memory with the young man who has been in her care for the past decade, Sue said: “When he joined our family, he was a shy 14-year-old who didn't trust anybody but now, you can tell he feels a part of the family. He is also best friends with my birth son, and it is so nice to see that transition when someone is feeling supported and confident in themselves.
“Trust can take months or even years to build but one thing that I have found that greatly helps is the power of laughter. Sometimes I can be quite blasé when talking about things and just randomly one day, he burst out laughing. Even if you laugh together just once, it can really break the ice.
“In fact, it has actually happened recently with my other young person, which was a lovely milestone. To be able to share a moment of laughter together does wonders for the relationship.”
For those looking to become foster parents, Sue said: “Research it thoroughly and find out the reality of fostering. If you have birth children, make sure they are on board with the decision. When I started out fostering, my children used to come along to all the training with me but above all else, your family has got to be on board with the decision to foster.”
Adding to this, Sue said: “If you are looking to foster teenagers, you must first remember what it is like to be a teenager. Just because we have grown older and hopefully slightly wiser, it doesn't mean the teenagers you look after have. So many of these young people have missed out on their childhoods and are forced to grow up quickly so just try not to expect too much from the young person.
“At the end of the day, I want them to grow into who they want to be, not who I tell them to be. By providing them with a safe and loving environment, you have to give them the space to grow and think for themselves. While it can be hard, you must first respect each other, trust them to make mistakes and nurture them to become who they want to be.”
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