Thursday, April 23, 2015


A lot of people, in fact the vast majority, come into fostering later in life.

By no means all though. I recently met two new couples who've just joined Blue Sky who are in their twenties.

Most couples wait until their own children have got a toehold on life.

There's no average age to start, well there probably is an average age if you did the maths, but that wouldn't mean it was the ideal age, because there's no such thing.

It's funny, most of us have our first child too early, or at least that's what it seems like when you get home with your first-born and all the well-wishers leave and you're stood there in the hall waving them off thinking "HEEEEELP! I'm not grown-up enough to do this!!!"

Spool forward a couple of decades and people reach for the phone to call a fostering agency and finding themselves thinking "HEEEEEELP! I'm too old to be doing this!!!"

I know I did. 

The best foster carer I ever met, and I mean this, is 73 and widowed. She has three foster children, at least she did when I met her. 

She'd been left high and dry when her husband passed away, not just alone (2 children both living abroad), but rudderless. She had pensions...but nothing to do with her life. 

She'd always liked children, and they'd liked her. She was a bit no-nonsense for me, but we all have out own style.

She could mind mice at a crossroads, know what I mean?

She was so organised that she used her spare income to hire a male friend (who had to be CRB checked and went on a few training days) to act as her kind of batman. He shared the driving and fixed leaky taps. 

She used to be in the army, so life in her house was spit and polish, probably a bit of "Stand by your beds, kit inspection is at 0600 hours!"

Did I mention one of her looked after children was in a wheelchair? Cerebral palsy. That was how we got to know her, we had the child in a chair stay with us for weekends when she needed a deserved break. We had a downstairs spare room which took a bed which is a boon if you put your name down for disabled respite.

Before the first weekend she arranged to visit and check us out, plus pass on some great tips to make the child's stay as good as possible.

This was several years ago, she found a respite carer nearer her home than us, so she rang up and thanked us and said her goodbyes. And put the child on to say his goodbye too.

She was with a different agency, so I have no contact with her.

She'd be nearer 80 than 70 now. Is she still doing it?

Hope so, for everyone's sakes.

I think that fostering loses a lot of good people who think they will be told their ship has sailed, and it's patently not the case. We came into fostering having thought through that it would be something we could do until we were too old. We figured that 60 would probably be the limit. But as we get older we find it easier. We get more experienced, of course. 

We've reached the point where we hope to foster until there's a blatantly obvious reason why it's time to hang up our fostering boots and head off into the sunset.

Until then I like telling friends who ask that "We enjoyed being parents so much we decided to go round again". And if anything takes years off you it's being back on the park swings again at half past nine on a Sunday morning.


  1. Eve's "last chance" foster carers were a elderly religious couple. But it was the religion and not the age that caused the breakdown. So off she went to the Children's Home. I don't think at 20-30 year old fostering a 16-18 year old would work though!

  2. Interesting (as always, your comments).
    The couples in their twenties are indeed working with younger children, You raise an important point about religion. Foster carers have to be flexible and look after the child's heart and soul (if there is such a thing as a soul), not just their own.