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22/09/2021

Derry foster mum shares her story in the hope of inspiring others

MC-fostering story pic
A Derry woman who became a foster carer just over a year ago has shared her story in the hope of encouraging other people to put themselves forward. Karen (not her real name), who is a nurse and a mum of two, had always wanted to foster children. After contacting the Western Health and Social Care Trust to find out more out more about the process she decided the time was right was her and her family. “I had been a nurse for 18 years and I wanted to do something different,” she explained. I had heard the radio ads about the information nights at hotels like the Everglades. “So I phoned up and asked about it and they sent out some DVDs and brochures and leaflets and I read them all and I started thinking ‘I could do that’.” Karen met with a social worker to get more information and then went on a six week course to learn more about foster caring. “They tell you about the really bad cases to prepare you. It opens your eyes to what goes on. “It’s amazing how many wains are waiting for foster care. I had no idea how many kids are in the system. “Sometimes there can be four or five children in a family who will need foster care. They try and keep them together but it’s not always possible. The mum of two already knew a few people who had fostered and felt she had a lot to offer. “I always wanted more children but my marriage broke up when my youngest son was five months old and I’ve never had another relationship so I knew that wasn’t going to happen for me,” she said. “I feel my boys are at the right age now. “My oldest is 14 and my younger bot is 11. “It opens up their eyes to because they can see how well off they are and that not everyone gets the good start that they got. “There are different types of families all over the world. “They have taken to it really well.” After passing the necessary checks and becoming a foster carer Karen has welcomed several babies and children into her home. She is currently looking after a little boy who has just turned four and a 13 week old baby. Karen decided to take a three year career break to allow her to focus on fostering, but many people do it alongside full or part time work as well. “I’m lucky that I have a good network of family around me too and my mum is very good,” she said. “If anyone was considering fostering I would say it’s challenging but it’s very rewarding. “Since I have started so many people have said to me ‘I’ve always thought about doing that’ but it puts people off that they will have a bond and then have to hand the baby back. “But that’s part of the process. You go into it knowing that and you have to be prepared. “You just take things a day at a time like you do with your own family. “I treat my foster children like I treat my own children. Everyone gets treated the same.” Foster carers can decide whether or not to have direct contact with the parents of the children in their care. Karen says she has decided to meet the parents of the children she looks after and has found it to be a positive experience. “Any parents I have had contact with have been very good there have been no bad vibes or arguments,” she explained. Many of the children who are in foster care will go on to be adopted and Karen has already had experience of this. “I had a little baby girl before last Christmas and I took her home from the hospital. “She had been in the neo natal ward for a week because she was having problems with her suck. “She was the best wain. She was just perfect and she was adopted by a young couple who couldn’t have children and they’d already adopted her older sister.” Vanessa Nelis, Fostering Recruitment Officer for the Western Trust said there are a lot of misconceptions about who can and cannot foster. “People often believe these myths. Don’t.  Foster carers come from all walks of life and we welcome enquiries irrespective of age, race, religion, language, culture gender, disability or sexual orientation – don’t rule yourself out. You may be exactly who we need! If you are resilient, flexible and feel that you could help a child to grow and develop through your care then get in touch with Vanessa on  T: (028) 028 8283 5264 / 7131 4244 or email:  Vanessa.nelis@westerntrust.hscni.net Picture: Vanessa Nelis, Fostering Recruitment Officer for the Western Trust

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