Family is not defined by our genes it is built and maintained through love!
This page is a place for fostering families to come to for support and guidance, we talk from a real-life family fostering home, share our struggles and the rewarding moments. We want to raise more awareness on this and send powerful messages out to families, who are thinking about fostering and can help children who are desperately searching for their forever loving home.
Suitcase Nanny kindly asks that if you are an existing foster carer and wish to comment on any of the articles on this page, do it with discretion to reflect confidentiality when discussing experiences. It is our duty of care to protect the privacy of children and young people in our care, therefore, Suitcase Nanny will be monitoring all comments and has the right to remove any that breach this rule.
Life as a ‘Foster carer’
I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about what it was like to be a foster parent, as I really didn’t have a clue about what to expect. But looking back, the fact that my husband and I weren’t very prepared was a good thing. We didn’t have any expectations about how our lives would change. Our own two birth children had come with the normal challenges that come with bringing up children, however bringing a foster child into your heart and home is something totally different. We had no idea of what their past experiences of family had been like or what they had witnessed and seen and we definitely weren’t prepared for the emotional roller-coaster that was about to enter our home, back in August 2013.
On our first day with both foster children age 4 and 7, they asked us if they could call us ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’! Which to be honest came as a bit of a shock, not knowing how long they were staying or what their future looked like made us question those words. But how could we say no… if that was going to make them feel loved, wanted, a part of a family and that’s what we were giving them, then we thought we would go with it, as saying no might have been more damaging for them.
Every day from then on was challenging, a lot of boundaries got pushed in those first few weeks, which we had been trained to expect. We had been trained for many generic issues that we could possibly be faced with and how to approach them. However, in reality, every situation that came up floored us and we just went with our own instincts. A lot of emotional issues rose over the first few months and we had to be firm so they knew we were in charge, but sensitive enough remembering what they had come from so we could deal with it in the best way we thought how. We went through times where the children would be on their best behavior, then all of a sudden something happens and you see behaviors that you haven’t seen before. When that did happen, we witnessed the biggest temper tantrum we have ever seen, over something and nothing. These situations certainly took us by surprise and put us firmly on the back foot.
Having had two children of our own, who had grown into confident well-rounded adults and had flown the nest with a sense of purpose and control over their lives; to take on two damaged, broken, unconfident, non-trusting children was difficult and more than once we looked at each other and thought what are we doing?
There were many things the girls had never experienced or seen before, of what was normal for an average child. The girls told us they had never seen the seaside, so that was the first thing we had to rectify. A fortnight later and we were in Cornwall meeting ‘Granny and Grampy seaside’. The girls tasted their first real Cornish pasty, and we took them out on our boat. They spent hours on the beach entertaining themselves with a bucket and spade each, while we watched with a smile. These small pleasures taught us how fortunate our own two children were and made us all the more determined to make this work.
As the months turned into years the children were becoming more self-confident and being in a stable family home helped. They got to know our own grown up birth children and we didn’t have issues from either party with this. Our big kids saw them and treated them as their little sisters from the outset and the girls looked up to them and enjoyed being in their company. They would both watch Amy with her makeup and clothing, they asked her to do their hair in nice styles which she enjoyed, and by engaging with them, a firm loving bond formed. They looked to our son for the fun and the humor, between them it was a good combination. Our own two children don’t live at home, so the girls got used to their coming and going and accepted it as normal. They adjusted well to when they weren’t here and spoke fondly to them on Skype when they were away and looked forward to their next visit.
We have taken the girls with us on many holidays abroad just like we did with our own children. We believe our children are self-confident and well-rounded because of all the opportunities they had growing up which is now paying off in their adulthood. We still had the odd behavior issue with both the girls, and we told them they had a choice. If they didn’t like their life with us, they didn’t have to stay, but funnily enough they reacted to this very positively and their behavior improved dramatically.
Fast forward five years and the girls are now 12 & 9. Anybody we meet who has known the children for this time, all comment how far they have come. We are like a regular normal family.
If you’d like to find out more on fostering and want to help a child in need then we’d be happy to point you in the right direction. Please email us or feel free to comment at the bottom of this page and we will answer them as best we can.
Life as a ‘Foster Sister’
In the beginning, it was really hard to accept that my parents had decided to foster. Although I didn’t live at home anymore and was living abroad after starting my career as a Travel Nanny I still felt unsure, jealous and replaced. I have a ‘real’ brother but he also does not live at home he is in the military and so he had moved out the same year I had. Sharing our parents with other children felt odd and the hardest part was knowing that there was a possibility they would call my parents ‘mom’ and ‘dad’. The first foster children arrived at my parents’ home back in 2013, two siblings age 4 and 7. To be honest I think it was better that I wasn’t around in the beginning because it gave my parents a chance to really understand and get to grips with their ‘new life’ and new routines.
My parents had no idea how long the two siblings would be staying with them and so every day was unknown…. 5 years later they are still with my parents and it has been such a blessing to have them in our lives and become apart of our family. Admittedly not every week has been easy, there have been problems along the way that we have overcome and are still working on but when we weigh up the good and bad, the positives are always much more outstanding than the negatives. Being a Foster sister has had a huge impact on my life and besides the fact I wouldn’t have extra siblings if it wasn’t for the fostering system, it has also impacted my career. As a Nanny, I have become more aware and understanding of child psychology and children’s needs and feelings. I notice emotions and behaviour more so and take time to study different scenarios and therefore solutions that would help me in becoming a better Nanny, Foster sister and person. Despite my two foster siblings not being adopted by my parents as yet, they are sure that when the time becomes right they will do.
Yesterday my littlest foster sister celebrated her 9th birthday and today I wanted to share a written note I found in her room back in November. It reads, ‘To Mom and Dad, you are the best in the whole entire world, I love you so much that I want to live with you the rest of my life, lots of love from your best daughter ever (name). love you both!’
My parents are always finding handwritten notes around the house and she quite often gives them to us as gifts. This little girl is extraordinary, brave and so deeply loving despite her troubled start in life. If it wasn’t for my strong parents reteaching her what is right in life and what a real family is then this little girl would not be the way she is today. There is a saying ‘blood is thicker than water’ but our love for her is way stronger than any strand of DNA, and she will be my sister, my parent’s daughter for as long as she wants to be.