At the end of November 2019, we had been approved by the council to become foster carers. This was the end of a fairly long and in-depth process which lasted just over a year.
For pretty much most of our married life, we have had discussions about adopting or fostering. We had even started the process a few times, but the timing had never really felt right for one reason or another. I was always much more sceptical about fostering because I thought it would be too hard to hand the children on to someone else, whether that be their birth family, an adoptive family, or another foster family.
We had a lengthy conversation with a friend who is a social worker and she suggested that we would actually be really suited to becoming foster parents. There are basically three different kinds of fostering— short term (up to two years), permanent, or respite. We thought our skill set and personalities were suited best to short-term fostering. A lot of that was because of the experiences we have had in Brasil and also in working in schemes here in Scotland.
So, we decided to apply to become foster carers. We thought we would take it a step at a time and if at any point we didn’t have peace about it we would just pull the plug. We thought we would encounter issues with Mez’s past or the fact that we were Christians, but none of these things turned out to be obstacles. In fact, they were seen as positive things. I know that a lot of Christians are put off becoming foster parents because they think they will have to compromise on their beliefs, but we haven’t found that at all.
In December 2019, we welcomed two sisters into our home. They were ages 8 and 10 at the time. It took a bit of adjustment for all of us, but very quickly they seemed to settle and enjoyed being with us. Then in the middle of March, I received a phone call about a wee boy—just 9 weeks old—who needed a place. Without hesitation I said, “Yes!” (I didn’t even speak to Mez about it!).
Making such a quick decision about something so major is very out of character for me. We had thought he would only be with us for a few weeks, but then covid hit and the country went into lockdown. So, here we were with three children under 11, living with huge restrictions, and having to do home schooling in the middle of a global pandemic. Not the way I thought our first year of fostering would play out.
It took us a while to get the wee man into a good routine and he was very unsettled for the first month or so. All three children are still with us and thankfully they have all settled into our family well—they all have good routines and we have had the joy of seeing them grow and develop over the past year.
There have been times when I have thought: Why am I doing this? Why has God brought these kids and covid into our lives now? But I can say that those thoughts have been fleeting, and seeing God’s hand of provision in it all has been a real blessing. We have had the opportunity to have some really good spiritual conversations with the girls, which has been so encouraging. They came to us having no idea about God or the Bible.
Why did we make this decision to become foster parents? Our own children are young adults now, and we could have enjoyed a quiet life, relishing the freedoms of being empty nesters! Some people probably thought (and maybe still think) that we are mad to go back to having wee ones around again.
Well, firstly, I would say that the Bible imperative for us to be caring for the orphaned and disadvantaged is very clear throughout the Scripture (James 1:27). Secondly, Mez has had a desire to do this for years, particularly because he himself went through the care system, so he knows the importance of providing stable homes for children from chaotic backgrounds.
Thirdly, there is a massive shortage of foster carers in Scotland. At end of July 2019, there were over 14,000 children in foster care, while there are only about 4,000 foster carers in Scotland. You don’t need to be a maths genius to realise that there is a huge discrepancy between those two numbers.
Who knows what the actual numbers are now—I’m sure covid has had an impact on the number of children at risk and needing a safe, secure home to go to. Also, I know that the number of people applying to become carers has decreased due to the pandemic. It has caused a bit of a bottle neck in the process.
Would you consider becoming a carer? Maybe you know someone who is a carer and would appreciate your practical support and prayers as they seek to look after needy children.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)