Yesterday, I visited my sister in the East Midlands, and her huge brood of kids. There was my nephew and niece, both teenagers, who have ‘fostered’ all of their lives. Two step children who came along with my brother in law weren’t home this time, but three younger kids, who have been fostered for almost three years were home too.
The fostered kids (as my sister and me once were), have taken a long time to get comfortable with me. I live in London, and make occasional visits, so you can see why. Their troubled backgrounds add to their caution around new adults, too, so I’ve let them come to me in their own time. Living with cats is good training for this!
During a natter with my sister, the eldest boy proudly presented himself to us both, dressed impeccably in a very smart army cadets uniform, boots polished to perfection, ready to be taken for his weekly session by his foster mum (my sister). I was hugely impressed; I used to be a special constable, and I always highly rate people who volunteer their time and effort for others, or for otherwise useful, character-building activities or causes.
So, I made quite a fuss of the young lad, told him how smart and brilliant he looked, asked him what his badges were for, and told him that I was very proud of him. Then, quite spontaneously, he came and wrapped his arms around my neck and gave me a big hug and said thank you. I was just speechless.
I have to say this, there is something incomparably wonderful about having love reciprocated. Kids do it rarely of course, but when they do, it grabs your heart very tightly, and you never, ever, forget those moments.
My sister has fostered over a hundred kids in 15 or so years, and my admiration for her is limitless. I don’t foster myself, because my calling in life is to work with fostering agencies and help them to recruit great foster carers, but however we contribute towards improving life for kids in care, moments like that I have just described are more than any kind of a reward I could ever wish for.
Fostering can be hard work, but not all of the time, and the emotional rewards are unsurpassed. To add some perspective, most parents would agree that raising biological offspring of one’s own is also hard work! Let’s not reserve a sense of burden only for vulnerable kids who can’t live with their birth families through no fault of their own.
Sean Parry is a time-served, multi-award winning recruitment marketer. He has worked among all sectors, private and commercial, public, health, police, fire and rescue, third sector, and local authorities. Over 20 years, Sean’s affinity with the cause of looked-after children and young people drew him to work ever more closely with children’s services.
Initially this included large scale social work recruitment exercises, later leading towards fostering and adoption attraction and recruitment marketing strategies. Full details of his career, and the core carer recruitment support service that Sean now provides on a retained consultancy basis to fostering agencies can be found on his LinkedIn page.
If your fostering agency is looking for specialist support to recruit new foster carers, please get in touch on 07977 712712 or by email for an exploratory, no-obligation discussion. This will be followed up with a summary of your support needs, along with full details of how he can help, anticipated outcomes, and hourly rates. Testimonials of Sean’s work from former fostering agency clients are also published on this website.
Don’t forget to join us at Do Fostering on Facebook, now the country’s most popular fostering page, achieved in just 2.5 years by Sean alone with an exceptionally limited budget—testament that effective, results-producing marketing had less to do with budget and more to do with developing a plan that works… and sticking to it!
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