Saturday, May 04, 2013


Nobody has ever asked me; "Why do you foster?" 

Honest, hand on heart, nobody has ever asked me that question outright, apart from way back when we were going through assessment, and even then it seemed only a routine question along with "Do you have a car?" and "Do you have high blood pressure?"

People do ask about the child you're fostering, and often say things like "How marvelous". But they never ask "Why do you foster?"

Mind you, when I think about it, I've never asked anybody; "Why don't you foster?"


I was driving home after the school run yesterday and heard another radio advert asking people to become foster carers. 

Sometimes, when I'm reminded that there are tens of thousands of children who need a safe home, I wind myself up a bit and feel like going round asking people "Why don't you foster?" 

Take the married couple in front of you in the Saturday morning supermarket queue. They live comfortably enough, judging by what they're buying. At least one of them works, or else they'd do the weekly shop on a weekday. But it's a trolley piled with adult food, so the kids have grown up. They are bickering with each other quietly about whether they should have bought packet ham or paid the extra at the cheese counter. He wanted Parma, she says it's not worth the extra as it's only for sandwiches. He's in a sulk.They will go home to a house with probably two or three empty bedrooms and rattle around it for the whole weekend, getting on each others nerves. Eating ham sandwiches and dreading another long empty Sunday.

Then there's the woman friend of yours. Acquaintance really, who dropped out of teaching young, you met her when your children went to the same school as hers and you've stayed in touch, which is easy now with Facebook. She is bored with her part time job doing the books at her local golf club, where the money is poor and she doesn't see many people. She is good with kids, she's got two who are both at secondary school. She always asks how your kids are doing, with genuine interest.

Or the couple who live opposite you, who mentioned during the Jubilee street party last summer that they had thought about fostering.

Or your own brother who can't get the building site work he used to since he has to be careful now he has an artificial hip, and his girlfriend's curtain business isn't doing very well.

I have never yet asked anybody why they don't foster, because it might sound smug, pushy. They might give me a mouthful, or never want to speak to me again because they'd think I'm trying to be one-up on them or maybe I get paid commission for recruiting (I don't if you must know).

Obviously, most people have sound reasons; their family is complicated enough, they haven't the space, they intend to try fostering when the time is right. I get all that.

I'm guessing, but I suspect most people who give it some thought end up agreeing with themselves that they simply "Couldn't do it". 

But if fostering has been through your mind more than just the once, it's time to find out from people who will know whether or not you can do it. Here you are reading this blog. Next step is to click the "Could I Foster?" tab on the Blue Sky home page.

The Secret Foster Carer


  1. Dear Secret Foster Carer,
    Thank you for your blog, it show real insight into the world of foster caring and the life of the cared for child. I have tried to become a foster carer, but at every turn I have been thwarted. If it's not because my husband spends 10 months of the year working aboad, it's because I am studying to be teacher. When the adverts expond that 'anyone can become a foster carer', they are not being entirely truthful. I shall continue to read your blog, you sound like a really caring and thoughtful person, keep up the good work,

    Sue Lennox

  2. Secret Foster CarerTuesday, May 07, 2013

    Dear Sue,

    Many thanks for your comment, sorry it took me a little time to respond, we went away over the BH and only took partner's iPad, and I'm not quite up on it yet.
    I'm really sorry to hear you feel thwarted. I mean, I can only suppose from what you say that there's a perception that you may be spreading yourself a bit thin.
    I honestly don't know if that would be true or not, I know training to be a teacher isn't as hard as fostering, and being on your own for all but 2 months of the year must be taxing on you as things stand, never mind if you were to have a looked after child to care for.
    I think the thing I would say is; come back to it. I'm guessing you have a good few years ahead of you, perhaps your circumstances will swing back so that fostering is on for you. You may just find that you're even better at it with more of life under your belt.
    I'm sure you're busy, but if you get a moment to tell me more, I'd like to hear your story. Love to, in fact.
    The thing you hear most often in fostering, at Blue Sky anyway, is that it's about the child. It is. But it's a big thing in the lives of foster carers, and people who want to be foster carers too.
    Oh, and not being picky, but I don't think the ads say anyone can become a foster carer, do they? I mean, that's just not the case. Anyone can become a parent, for sure. And look where that's got us.