Tag Archives: fostering

Michael’s story: from hospital to a happy family home

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.

Fostering is one of the best decisions we ever made: #100days100stories

Isabel is a foster carer with Scope’s fostering service. She and her husband foster Rosie, aged 12, and Isabel has shared her story as part of Scope’s 100 Days, 100 Stories campaign. We have changed all the names here, as confidentiality is important in foster care.

I grew up with a friend whose mum fostered disabled children. I’d always thought I’d like to do it, but I thought I’d wait until my children were older.

But then one day at the bottom of my payslip was a message: ‘Interested in fostering?’ And for some reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

We were in our mid-20s when we started fostering five years ago, younger than most foster carers, and our own children, Anna and Chloe, were still very small.

I’ve worked with adults with learning difficulties ever since I left college, and of course I’m a mum as well – so for me, fostering is both profession and family.

Meeting Rosie

Rosie came to stay with us five years ago, when she was six. She goes to a special school, and she has complex learning difficulties. When she arrived, I think she could say one word – ‘no’ – and that was it.

When you start fostering a child you’re shown reports from the professionals who work with them, and Rosie was described as ‘passive’ and ‘stuck in her own little world’. I was told: ‘She doesn’t really communicate, she just cries’.

Over the first few months she was with us, she just completely changed. Soon she was being described as full of life, confident, sociable.

Apparently a little boy at school asked the teacher, ‘Who’s the new girl?’ and it was, ‘That’s not a new girl, that’s Rosie!’

Rosie still has a birth family who loves her, but she didn’t feel safe with one of her siblings, who also has complex needs. When she came here, I think it just gave her the relief she needed to develop to her full potential.

Rosie today

Mostly she just likes bounding about the place! She loves books and photography, she loves playing in the garden, going on the trampoline. This morning we were playing together, feeding a soft toy monkey a yoghurt.

She gets on really well with my own children. They’re just like sisters now – so they get on each other’s nerves and argue a bit! But they care about each other, and they look after each other really nicely.

We’ve done a lot of work with Rosie to help her learn sign language. She still doesn’t have a lot of speech, but she’s very good at making herself understood now.

But I think the main thing we could do was just make her feel safe and secure, and make sure she feels loved and wanted.

It’s not like a conventional job at all. On a day-to-day basis, I just feel like Rosie is a member of my family – the only time it feels like a job is when you have to go to meetings and reviews and that sort of thing.

But when we’re out at the beach or going to school, it just feels like we’re a family.

Getting permanency

After Rosie had been with us for about 18 months, we went through the process that means Rosie can stay with us permanently, through to adulthood.

Scope is still there to support us and nothing has really changed – it just gives us stability and the comfort of knowing Rosie is here to stay. And for us, she’ll always be part of our family, even when she’s grown up.

Deciding to foster was one of the best decisions we ever made. We’ve got so much out of it as a family. There have been lots of high points, but just having Rosie in the family is a high point in itself.

40% of children waiting for a permanent home are disabled. Can you help us be there for them? Please donate to Scope’s Fostering appeal – you can help another disabled child find a safe and loving home where they can thrive.

Film of the week: Fostering a disabled child – a true story

“For the first time in a long time, Jenny and Tom found themselves with an empty nest. With so much more love and care still to give they decided to contact Scope’s fostering service. It was here they first heard about Grace.”

In this new animated film (voiced by British comedian, actress and writer Arabella Weir) to promote Scope’s fostering service, we take a look at the story of Grace, Jenny and Tom. Thanks to the flexibility, support and comprehensive training they received from Scope, they were able to offer Grace the help and encouragement she really needed to turn her life around.

Scope always want to hear from people who are interested in becoming a foster carer for a disabled child or young person. This is the first of two new animations we’re launching to attract new foster carers. We want more people to know about this service.

Check it out below – and let us know what you think!

If you’re interested in finding out more about our service, please visit our Fostering service webpage.