Dennis and Linda

“There’s no better reward than a child’s trust.”

With five birth children and ten grandchildren, Dennis and Linda had always been used to having lots of children around and, once their own children had left home, fostering felt like the next natural step.

They started fostering three years ago and their fostering career has kept them really busy. Their first placement was two girls, Rachel and Rebecca, aged five and two-and-a-half respectively. “We met these two delightful children two days before they came to live with us,” recalls Dennis. “The youngest, Rebecca, was very independent, insisting on doing everything herself. But this defiance lessened as the placement progressed.

“I’ll never forget part of Rebecca’s routine. She used to watch ‘In the Night Garden’ and, at the end of every programme, she would shout for me. And, no matter where I was in the house, I had to drop everything and go running into the living room so we could sing the theme song together.”

Linda and Dennis looked after the girls for almost two years before they moved to their adoptive parents. Dennis remembers: “The adoption move took three weeks during which we saw their new parents on most days. We had to prepare ourselves for their move as we knew we’d miss them. They were so full of energy, life and fun. But the move hit us harder than we had imagined and we’ve learnt that when children move on, we must give ourselves time to reflect and, in some way, to grieve for our loss.”

But those emotions didn’t stand in the way of their fostering career as now they have a sibling group of three – seven-year-old Tom, five-year-old Jack and Sarah aged two. Dennis explained: “All three are very energetic and bright. It’s been wonderful to see the changes in them, how they want to learn where before they weren’t really interested. Jack too has really come out of his shell. He was so quiet at the start of the placement but now is very talkative and has such a dry sense of humour. Sarah’s only thirty-months-old but already she knows her alphabet and can count very well.

“We’ve been lucky with all of the children we’ve looked after so far as none of them has had any really challenging behaviour. There have been some issues certainly but all the children have been delightful. The support we have received from Fostering People has been excellent. Our social worker is very helpful and supportive and we’ve really appreciated the knowledge that we can call any time, day or night. It gives us great confidence to know that there’s always someone ready to support us.”

Offering advice to others considering fostering, Dennis said, “You need to be aware that it will significantly change your life, every bit as much as having your own family. But the real rewards for us are when the children’s social worker makes comments about their improvements. It means a lot to know that we’re making a positive difference to their lives. We’ve found the most important thing when fostering is to be yourself. That way children start to trust you and, after love, there’s no better reward than a child’s trust.”