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Stevie and Mhairi's Fostering Story

Newly weds Stevie and Mhairi talk about their lives, as they embark not just as a married couple, but from hoteliers to happy families: Meet the hotel managers on their new fostering journey.

April 22 2024 - 4 min read

Meet the hotel managers on their new fostering journey.

Mhairi and Stevie, aged 32 and 40 respectively, are a newlywed husband-and-wife-team living in Perth and Kinross. They have been together for over four years and started fostering together just over a year ago.

They are currently fostering siblings  - a six-year-old boy and a five-year-old girl - all while running a large country hotel together.

The pair wanted to start fostering as a way to give back to the community.

Mhairi explained: “My parents’ friends fostered when I was growing up. I pretty much grew up with their children and then their foster children too. It made me quite aware that I had quite a privileged upbringing so I just wanted to be able to give other children the same upbringing that I had.”

While opening their home to foster children was her idea initially, Stevie needed a little bit more convincing.

Mhairi said: “I remember telling him that he’s seen the struggles of low-income families, growing up where he did. Children with a lot of additional needs that might not be getting the support that they need, kids from his area that could do with a family like the one we’ve got, and he agreed.”

A dream team

The pair attribute some of their success as foster parents to the skills they have picked up from running the hotel. Working in hospitality has allowed them to work with people from several different backgrounds, something they’ve found useful on their new fostering journey.

“It’s even taught me how to deal with some challenging situations involving traditions and customs from different cultures as well,” Stevie added.

Mhairi and Stevie have also found that running the hotel together has meant they can better balance parenting and their roles as hoteliers.

“It’d definitely be more difficult if we didn’t work together. We have a great dynamic and relationship where one of us can pick up the slack at work if the other one is concentrating on things at home and vice versa. It means we can juggle things quite nicely.

“That’s not to say it can’t be done if you don’t work together! It’s just a bit easier when we can shift the school drop-offs and things - we just make sure we talk to each other and share the load.”

What’s different about life now that they’re foster parents

“The lack of sleep!” half-joked Mhairi. “I need way more sleep than Stevie, so he kindly takes most of the mornings.”

“I think it’s how organised we need to be now,” Stevie explained. “If we’re heading out, we need to make sure we’ve got a bag packed for the kids. Snacks, drinks, spare clothes, you know. Everything also needs to have some structure, as Ricky* can sometimes get a little unsettled - sometimes that can be tough.”

The couple did explain however that they are now able to regain some spontaneity.

“It’s not a carefree life of course, it won’t be with any kid but it’s getting easier. Ricky* is learning to trust us more and is getting more familiar with things. They’ve both really settled in actually, it’s lovely to see. Seeing them become less anxious and more comfortable has been really rewarding.”

Mythbusting with Mhairi and Stevie

When asked if they wanted to bust any myths about fostering, the couple both brought up the idea that children in care are ‘bad kids’.

“Foster children are no more difficult than someone’s own children. Yes, they may have some quirks and there might be some traits you need to get your head around but that isn’t specific to kids from care,” said Mhairi.

Stevie agreed adding: “There's no such a thing as a bad child. You do hear all the rumours that kids in care are going to be nightmares but they're just not. They might  have had some challenges in life, which they’ve often had no control over.”

Another myth Mhairi wanted to bust was the fact that people often assume you can’t have another job alongside being a foster parent.

“There are types of fostering which require you to be dedicated to that role only but for long-term fostering, it’s absolutely possible to work and parent. You can build your life around both things.”

Advice for new and prospective foster parents

Steve had some advice for new foster parents.

“Keep your eyes open for training opportunities. There’s so much to do and learn.

Mhairi’s advice? To take everything with a pinch of salt.

“Things like reports can be very formal and intimidating. I’ve read reports before and thought ‘Oh no, are we doing the right thing? Our life’s going to be turned upside down!’ Take things with a pinch of salt and be open-minded. A child’s report isn’t their identity, it can often boil down to the situations they’ve previously been in.”

*Child’s name has been changed for anonymity

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