It is Fostering Fortnight, The Fostering Network’s annual campaign to raise the profile of fostering and show how foster care transforms lives. Fostering is something close to the heart of Beckie Clark, growing up in foster care from six months old. In this blog she shares her story, and why we need more foster carers.
I was in emergency care from six months old. Kay and Andy opened their home to foster me. I have grown up with them and their children who are my foster brothers and sisters.
When I was five there had to be a decision made as to whether I would be adopted or stay and live with my foster carers. I had my adoption photos taken and the social workers were trying to find a family. Kay and Andy made the decision to not put me up for adoption, or to adopt me, but to continue to foster me on a long term placement. They felt I wouldn’t get the support I needed if I was adopted by another family and my life would be disrupted.
They felt by staying as my foster carers they would be able to give me what I needed and have support themselves. The family had really become attached to me and they didn’t want me to be adopted by another family as it would mean a lot of change and new things for me. I was really settled. The Social Workers asked me and although I was only five, I wanted to stay with them.
Looking back it was the right decision. I stayed with them and I continued to be supported and loved by them. When I was a bit older I used to go and meet potential foster carers with Kay at the group – they could ask questions, talk to me and see my life. I’m not sure if they did become carers but I hope they did.
Kay and Andy still support and help me even though I have left home they are still a big part of my life. I honestly feel I wouldn’t be where I am without them.
Not only can fostering make a difference to someone’s life, it can save someone’s life like it did mine. If I didn’t not go into care when I did, I would have not survived. I had broken ribs and had to have an operation on my eye because I was shaken as a baby. I also had really bad nappy rash. I am so glad I was in care, otherwise I wouldn’t be sharing my story with you today. It is also the reason I chose the profession I am in, now working in a nursery. I want to look after children and protect them like I was by my foster parents.
In England there are around 80,000 children in care and only around 45,000 foster carers. Coventry, where I live, is doing well at getting more foster carers but still they need more people. People who want to open up their homes just like Kay and Andy did for me. If this is something you are thinking about I want you to know the difference it can make to someone’s life. It’s not easy, you will have to go through upsetting situations but it is worth it.
About the author
Beckie is a Nursery worker and was part of the Story of Us; a series of storytelling workshops delivered by Sounddelivery Media as part of a programme led by Reform the Norm. Reform the norm is an influential collective of Coventry’s City of Culture Trust plus four organisations at the forefront of work with the city’s most impacted communities and city recovery plans. – Grapevine, Central England Law Centre, Positive Youth Foundation and Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre.
Listen: In this audio interview Becky shares her experience of having a learning disability, her experience of foster care and life during the pandemic.