Hi, I'm Alveina, married and a mother of three. My eldest daughter, who is 18, is at university studying towards her psychology degree. My son who has just turned 16 is taking his GCSE this year and my youngest daughter, of 12 years, started high school this September. As you can see, they are all at crucial stages of their academic life, and like most, our household can be very busy.
For the past four years I have also been a foster carer.
It's a tough job being a mother, as any mother would agree, and being a foster carer is no different. I believe the secret of success is having a good structure in the home, a loving environment and communication.
The decision to become a foster carer was not taken lightly. After having a successful banking career I decided to take some time out from the working world to raise my family, and I thought I could do more.
My sister in law was a foster carer and I watched her care for her foster family. I saw the considerable amount of care and attention that was needed to look after these vulnerable children, but what struck me most was the joy and fulfilment that was being reaped. They gave the children stability, love and care, making a positive difference to their lives.
My decision to foster was precisely to make a positive difference in a child’s life.
At times it's a tough job to fulfil, but I have been committed and dedicated in providing a safe, caring and loving home with stability, structure and set boundaries, to enable the child to develop and gain confidence, to become a well-rounded individual.
Just like raising your own children, there are both highs and lows.
· Fostering is a very rewarding job. It's a great feeling when you see a child you are caring for develop well, gain confidence and strengths to help them move on to the next stages of life. You know you have instilled those qualities that will hopefully benefit them in the future.
· It's great when you have good relationships with the parents or adoptive parents, this helps immensely during transition time.
· Sometimes you are able to keep in touch with the children after they leave.
· Having access to a good network of foster carers so you don’t feel overburdened and know help is always available.
· The support you receive from support workers and by attending fostering support meetings is a great help in understanding how to deal with vulnerable children.
· When a child leaves your home it can be very emotional and sad, knowing you may never see them again.
· Remaining professional when dealing with the childrens parents can be challenging.
· Some days juggling a busy day, your own children and fostering duties can be difficult.
· Trying to manage a child who’s upset and has had a difficult start in life can be a challenge.
Despite the low points, at the end of the day you know you are giving a child in need a helping hand, and building a positive future for them, and that is what makes it all worth it.
I hope you will join me for the next fortnight as I continue to post my experiences of being a foster carer and balancing my life around it.