Michael’s story shows the amazing difference your support makes to disabled children. Now five years old, Michael spent the first 18 months of his life in hospital. He was born with a rare genetic disease and his birth parents weren’t able to look after him.
So Michael went directly from being in hospital, to being in care – never experiencing what it was like to be part of a loving family. Thankfully, that changed when he met foster parents Amy and her husband Ben.
Here Amy explains just what a difference a loving home can make to a disabled child.
In my job as a school nurse, I’d worked with disabled children and I’d had contact with foster carers, and when I talked to them, I thought ‘I really want to do that!’ – Thankfully, so did my husband Ben.
Michael first came to us for weekend visits . Beforehand, we received paperwork about him that was very negative. It included the fact he was fed through a tube only and said that he wasn’t expected to ever walk or talk.
Many parents would have been put off and wouldn’t have felt able to offer a child like Michael a loving home. But we knew Scope would be there for Michael and for us every step of the way. And that gave us the confidence to go ahead.
“We’ve seen him flourish”
What struck me when I met Michael was what a smiley little boy he was. He was waving his hands up and down. I did the same. And when he stopped, I stopped – it was a really basic game but it showed me how keen Michael was to communicate if only someone took the time to play with him.
And of course, as part of our family, he’s had all of us playing with him. We’ve seen him flourish and show us who he really is. And he is someone with incredible determination.
We were told that Michael wouldn’t talk or walk. But we’ve learned that if anyone puts a barrier in front of Michael and says he isn’t going to do something, he’s going to break it.
He has developed in so many areas since being part of our family – walking, talking, eating. He’s also become really affectionate – blowing kisses, cuddling up to you and he likes to have you put your hand on his arm.
Michael has just fitted in with our family. Sometimes my difficulty is remembering that he’s fostered. He’s part of our family; he’s not any different. And we’ve said to the girls, ‘You can call him your brother now’.
Fostering Michael has been more rewarding for the whole family than I could have imagined. And it has been a privilege to see him achieve so much.
Looking at Michael today, you wouldn’t know how far he’s come. He’s steady on his feet now and walks everywhere. I think he’s making up for lost time.
We went to the Lake District on holiday and Michael walked up a steep hill on his own. His confidence is growing every day. He’s becoming so independent – it’s amazing how far he’s come when I think back to the little boy we first met.
You are part of Michael’s story
Without the generosity of supporters like you, we couldn’t provide a specialist foster service and many more disabled children would still be looking for a loving family home.
As we start our work in 2016, your support is more important than ever. Some 40 per cent of children in care waiting for a permanent home are disabled.
Together, we can ensure more children find the loving homes they desperately need.