ANYONE interested in fostering should definitely give it a try.
That’s the advice from Kirkcaldy mum Angela Cheney, who has been a foster carer for the past 15 years.
Fife’s Family Placement Team are running a series of open information sessions from next week offering advice, guidance and information packs to families interested in fostering.
Each session starts at 10 a.m with a short presentation and time available with foster care professionals for any questions.
Angela (42) started fostering in 1996 and highly recommends it.
She said: “My mum and dad did it so I had experience of what fostering is about. They started when I was about nine or 10 and stopped when I was around the age of 14. I really enjoyed the experience and wanted to do it myself.
“I have four daughters of my own, aged four to 21, and the good thing about being a foster carer is that it is flexible. When my children were younger I fostered ones who were older and vice versa.
“You can decide what ages you want and how many children you want to look after - it depends on what space you have and how confident you feel about doing it.
“People have ideas that maybe you have to be married to be able to foster and fit criteria like that, but it’s not the case. I am now a single foster carer and have been for the past few years, ever since I got divorced.
“But I still continued to foster, even though I was divorced, in fact my husband and I were not married when we started fostering.”
Angela said her placements have ranged from days up to three years and she admits it is always hard to let go: “Whether it is babies or teenagers, I find it hard when they move on whether it be for adoption or long term care,” she explained.
“But it is very satisfying when I hear from them later on when they have had their own families and I can see how well their lives have turned out.
“There is usually a gap after I have looked after them but some do keep in touch, although there are some you never hear from again.”
And she says there are a lot of benefits to becoming a foster carer.
“I have been able to be a stay-at-home mum and it is very rewarding when there are happy endings. My reward is seeing the children move on to a home, adoption or long term care.
“I love it when we are out and people don’t know which ones are my children and which ones are being fostered.
“That’s when I know I am doing my job right - when they are fitting in like they are part of your family.
“There are benefits for the children too - they can see what family life is all about. There are some who have never sat at the table or never been to a family party.
“I even had one nine-year-old boy who had never been to the cinema. He didn’t move, even when the credits started rolling.”
She advises anyone thinking about fostering to just go for it.
“There are many myths about fostering and a lot of them just aren’t true. You have to be non-judgemental and you have to have a bit of love to give them. What is also important is to not forget about the children you already have.”
She concluded: “I would recommend fostering, I love it. For me fostering is a way of life, it is an achievement.”