Fostering Hope

For the most part, foster carers have a spirit of generosity that seems to come from somewhere beyond the realms of standard human character. It’s as if the act of opening their home and their hearts to young people adrift is not so much a choice but just the obvious right thing to do.

ON THE PATH TO A BRIGHTER FUTURE.

Karen and her partner have three biological children (20, 15 and 9) and two they foster (7 and 4) and will foster for the long term. The four-year-old arrived as a new-born – one of fifteen newborns Karen and her family have cared for over the years.

“We never intended to do just long-term care,” Karen explains. “We’ve had so many new-borns and toddlers coming and going. Some might arrive in the middle of the night, so the kids would wake up and there’d be new faces at the breakfast table. But now we’re in our forties, we just can’t cope with getting up in the night so often anymore. And it was pretty hard on our own kids. So we took an opportunity to foster long-term because it gave our kids the same stability, and they’re very much a part of our family now. I think that’s what we’re all about, trying to find that stability for everyone.”

But for Karen, it’s not as simple as just adding two more kids to the mix. She’s not working because of the amount of running around she has to do. When asked what sort of person it takes to take on that kind of responsibility, Karen answered quickly and with one word – “crazy”.

Her eldest is at Uni and found the additional siblings a challenging adjustment to begin with. When a Kids Under Cover studio was offered to her about 18 months ago, she couldn’t wait to enjoy the extra space. Karen saw the change in her daughter too.

“Having that separation of the house and the Kids Under Cover studio has been a blessing from that point of view. She was very, very excited at the thought of being able to have that bit of independence, but still being close to us, still being able to be at home, still having mum doing her washing and cooking dinner. It gives her that, you know, little bit of independence. And the younger ones, they have their little meltdowns, so it’s important she’s able to have some escape from that.”

Karen is driven by the opportunities she had growing up. And by the idea of giving young kids from difficult backgrounds the chance to get back on track. She’s no longer surprised about how people can treat their children or the stories of mistreatment she hears. After years of bringing those stories into her house she just hopes that by doing her bit she’s been able to change the trajectory for some.

“If I can take a little bit of that heartbreak from that child or a little bit of that pain and hold that as an adult who can cope with that, I’ve given that child some stability for that short time they’ve been with us,” she says.

And if Kids Under Cover studios help to enable that kind of care, it’s another way they help facilitate a path to a brighter future for young people who have done it tough, too early in their lives.

“At the end of the day,” Karen insists, “we would not be able to have two children live with us long-term if we didn’t have that extra space. We just physically couldn’t accommodate them. So for us, it means we can take another child, keep another child safe. Yeah, we can give another child a home.”