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Steve's fostering story

Steve 63, and his wife, Lorraine, 59, who are based in County Durham, have been fostering for seven years and have fostered three children who are siblings on a long-term basis ever since they were approved.

June 23 2021 - 6 min read

“There have been many challenges, but to watch them come through stronger and their personalities shine brighter whilst seeing how happy they have become, makes it all worth it”

Steve 63, and his wife, Lorraine, 59, who are based in County Durham, have been fostering for seven years and have fostered three children who are siblings on a long-term basis ever since they were approved.

Steve and Lorraine were approved as foster parents in January 2014 and since then, they have fostered three siblings, two girls and one boy, with the eldest being with them on a staying put agreement.

Steve left his job as a professional manager after 27 years in the industry. Originally, Steve’s five-year plan was to do something worthwhile that would give him a sense of satisfaction from a humanistic point of view, before moving to sunny Tenerife to enjoy his retirement.

As Lorraine, Steve’s wife, had worked with children as a career previously, Steve had an understanding of the varying experiences, which encouraged him to consider fostering and seemed a natural path for Steve to do, which was rewarding and helpful.

Steve explains; “Myself and Lorraine have raised children of our own who are settled and all in a great place in life, which gave us a base understanding of looking after children.”

Steve continues; “From my point of view, I managed a team of 50 during my career, with some being under 18 and a lot over 18, which ultimately gave me great experience in seeing how different people react to certain situations. I believe it was actually this that set me in good stead, as I knew there is “no size fits all” easy solution, and sometimes it was like dealing with a bunch of big kids anyway!”

However, Steve believes it is the support he has received that has made all the difference; “as well as having a network of family and friends, we have really great, strong support from our agency, Fostering People across the board, and I can’t speak highly enough of our Supervising Social Worker who has always been there for us.”

Steve continues, “I come from a really close family environment, and everyone from our parents to our children have been fully supportive in what we are doing, to the point that the children are just part of our family, and we all meet up from time to time.”

However, fostering does not come without its challenges, as Steve explains, “Over the years we have had our share of challenges. We have dealt with many varying issues, varying from lack of routines or boundaries, very few possessions, parental let downs, depression, self-harming, friendship issues, severe temper tantrums, drug and alcohol abuse and being educationally behind at school, so I am not sure there is anything else we are yet to experience!”

He continues; “We try to approach every issue with a ‘common-sense’ approach, trying to get the views in of the child themselves, seeking as much support as you can, and generally being an advocate and shoulder to lean on as much as you can, coupled with a healthy dose of care and love.”

Although Steve believes this is where Fostering becomes one of the greatest things you can do, as he mentions “There have been many challenges, but to watch them come through stronger and their personalities shine brighter, whilst seeing how happy they have become, makes it all worth it!”

There have been many special moments for Steve whilst fostering, as he explains; “The progress that each one of the children has achieved has been amazing to see! The affection you get from them is lovely, and the fact that they know they are loved as well is something that money simply can’t buy!”

Steve continues; “However, if I had to pick one standout moment, it would be the transformation of our eldest, who is now 18 years old. She has gone from being perhaps a little troublesome to a lovely, level-headed, kind person who has just started a full-time position as a Teaching Assistant and says she never wants to leave us, which I think from somebody at 18 years old is a lovely sentiment!”

Steve’s initial five-year plan has now changed drastically, as he explains; “We have been fostering now for nearly 8 years with the same children, considering this was only a temporary placement and our plan was to go and live in Tenerife, I think we may have got the bug! We have taken a small number of children on short-term respite across the years, which have been successful and great experience for our children.”

For anyone considering fostering, Steve has the following advice: “The overall process was smooth, and whilst it did involve a lot of initial hard work and training, it prepared you where possible for the road ahead. We went into fostering with an open mind and an open heart and I wish I had done it years before I did!”

He continues; “Whilst a lot of the time it isn’t easy, the emotional rewards can be great. Don’t do it for the money but do it for the help, love and support you can give and the fact that you can change a child’s life for the better! Ps, it helps if you have a sense of humour!”