I have fostered 3 unrelated children since being approved as a foster carer in April 2019. I loved seeing the little ones grow and develop during their time with me but felt I could use my skills and experiences to support mums to look after their newborn babies in a nurturing environment within my home.
I really wanted to play an active role in keeping a family together whilst offering my support to promote good parenting.
Initially, as a mum and recent Nanna, I felt quite confident in my ability to fulfil this role. Although, following completion of my Parent and Child training I realised it would be far more of a challenge than I first thought.
Mums would often be young, often without the support of their family and therefore no positive parenting role models and often have been or are looked after children themselves. Some of my worries included: how would the young mum feel if I made suggestions about their care of baby, would I manage the increased amount of recording required, interrupted sleep and so on.
However, the experience I have gained from having little ones in my care for over 2 years has given me an insight into some of the issues I may face.
I had purchased, and been gifted, baby items such as a moses basket, clothes, nappies, bath, monitor, changing mat, bottles and steriliser plus lots more. I had decorated and furnished the bedroom to reflect that it is mums room as well as baby’s, including a dressing table with lighting, photo frames and pictures as well as some personal items like bubble bath.
My first mum-to-be arrived the day before her baby was born, she was actually in labour when she arrived and we both agreed at a later date that this probably wasn’t the best start to our time together! Alice was 17 and this was her first baby. She came home the day after baby Keiron was born. Initially, Alice spent a lot of time in her room with Keiron, mainly sleeping. I offered to help with washing and cooking but this was often declined as she felt any help she accepted may be viewed negatively by her SW. This was quite hard to watch as I just wanted to help her through those first couple of weeks.
We are now 7 weeks on. Baby is thriving, mum is very tired but managing, learning and committed to caring for her baby son. There has been tears and laughter and more to come I’m sure, but seeing their relationship develop is wonderful. Knowing I am playing an important part of their journey together is very humbling and extremely fulfilling.
Fostering mums and their babies is literally a 24/7 role. It can involve very early mornings, late nights, welcoming a huge variety of professionals into your home, lots of appointments especially in the first few weeks. Diplomacy is needed when advising mum of things you’ve observed which may need addressing.
After fostering younger children, I am finding supporting a young adult who has been in the care system very different. Alice is able to reflect on her journey and is aware of how her past experiences have impacted her as an adult.
I feel I have found my niche in supporting mums and their babies to form secure bonds and prepare them for life together in the wider community.