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“Every Father’s Day they’ll each make me a card but the biggest gift for me is seeing them grow.”

Ian at the beach

Wednesday 14 June 2023

I’m 59 years old and have been fostering for around 8 years with my wife Wendy. I’ve always enjoyed having kids around me, I’ve never had children of my own but Wendy has grown up children from a previous partner.

We wanted to make a difference to children’s lives, I didn’t realise things were so bad for some children. I just assumed everybody had a similar upbring to me, a really loving family. It’s a real eye opener and I often wonder how these children can come from such trauma to where they are now, they’re incredible. If I’d have known how difficult it is for some children before I’d have definitely started fostering sooner.

We have a brother and a sister who have been with us for the last 7 years, they came to us aged 6 and 9 years old and we now also have a little 2 year old.

Although we don’t always see the progress they have made as we’re living in it 24/7, friends will often comment that they can’t believe the difference in them. Our eldest who is now 16 years old has really thrown herself into her GCSE’s, attending every study club there is even the ones at weekends and in the holidays! She has a real drive to achieve, she turned around and said to me recently “I couldn’t have done this, I would never have been here without you, I’d have never had this opportunity.” It made me teary, I’m a big softie and I’m really proud of her. She’s got 100% attendance at school and is looking forward to moving onto sixth form and is talking about University one day.

I can see when I reflect back that they have both grown so much in confidence over time, they’re much more settled and have a better relationship with each other. I never forget when we told our siblings they’d be staying with us long-term, our boy was punching the air and asked if he could call us mum and dad, now he’s taller than me! He has had a lot of trauma in his past and we have lots of support to help him overcome it. With our encouragement he’s worked hard at school and during the last parents evening they were singing his praises.

The two of us will go out for a curry together, he’ll say to me “I need some dad time.” We also enjoy banger racing and spend quality time together. When he was much younger one Christmas he bought a plant pot from the school fete, he always picked out thoughtful gifts. The plant pot said ‘Thank you for helping me to grow’. It made me feel really proud of the difference we’re making to his life.

Every Father’s Day they’ll each make me a card but the biggest gift for me is seeing them grow.

The training you get as a foster carer is good, the support that we get is second to none and our social worker-  I can’t praise her enough! We’ve had great social workers throughout our fostering experience but our current social worker is just fantastic! She’s always at the end of the phone and always gives any help, advice and support, she’s always there for us.

I enjoy the benefits of fostering for the kids, seeing the children together in a safe environment and doing well in life. It’s very satisfying seeing your work evolve through the children, I’d say to anyone thinking about it to get on and do it with Essex County Council!

If you'd like to speak with foster carers link Ian and find out more, find a local event.