We started our fostering journey over five years ago now. We always believed that we had something to offer, even if we could help just one child out of the thousands of kids that are unfortunately in care in Ireland.
However, we questioned and doubted ourselves. Not because of what we had to offer but because we are a gay couple. I remember researching and seeing that fostering was open to single parents and gay couples, but we still weren’t convinced. After our research and through word of mouth we decided to go with Five Rivers as they had the best reputation.
From the moment we made contact our minds were put at ease, and any doubts we had diminished. Our new link worker ‘D’ was assigned, and she came out to visit us. She talked us through the whole process and gave us the time and space to decide if it was still something we were interested in doing. Guess what, we were more interested than ever! The whole process took about eight months and we learned so much about ourselves both individually and as a couple. We learned that to be a foster career you don’t have to be a picture-perfect family. You just need to be authentic with real life experiences, both good and bad.
We had a couple of amazing kids in our house short term before we were matched with our current kids. Our link worker spoke to us about siblings that needed a home, brother and sister. We both felt this was something we could offer as we wanted to keep them together. A casual meeting was set up with the kids and afterwards we were asked how we felt. We said ‘Yes, we would love to give it ago’. The moving in process was done sensitively. It started with a sleepover for a night to let the kids get comfortable and then a week later they moved in. It was the end of August so just in time to get ready for school.
Life changed very quickly! Uniforms, lunch, new dinner timings. The adventure had begun for all four of us – a new world for them but also new territory for us. We found ourselves getting into a family routine very quickly.
Understandably, as with most kids in care, they didn’t have much trust in adults. This was something our link worker had told us about - that the kids will need time to adjust to a strange home, and living with strangers wasn’t easy for them.
We showed them stability and love, just enough to let them know that we care, and they are safe. They needed to feel this is their home now. As soon as the kids felt safe and secure, they began to bloom. They began to excel in school and, as time passed, we got to see more and more of their personalities.
We remember the first time we could hear them laughing again. They were upstairs in the bedroom together and the giggles and laughter echoed throughout the house. It was a milestone for us, as hearing them laugh we knew as a new family we were on the right track. Even though it was after bedtime we decided to pretend, we didn’t hear that they were still up and we let them have that moment.
Four years later and they are still with us and will be until they decide to move on into their adult lives. Watching them grow and become the amazing young adults they are is priceless. We know we have given them a chance at life, which is what every child deserves.
If you think you can make a difference, make that call and see where it takes you. Our journey is still ongoing, and we wouldn’t change a thing.
R & L