I suppose you could say that when my husband and I were approaching our fifties, we had something of a joint mid-life crisis – if that’s possible.
Our eldest son was living independently and our youngest son was planning a career teaching in China. We had always had a very busy, active family life and when we thought about our life in the near future it did seem that it would be a bit empty and without purpose. My husband described it as feeling as though we were a ‘spent force’ and were heading towards retirement and old age. We were both used to being busy, active people and neither of us felt ready for that yet.
It was my husband who suggested that we consider fostering. I was concerned that we might be a bit too old. We made enquiries and were accepted on the training course.
My fears about being too old were initially compounded, as we were the oldest there by more than a decade! Nevertheless, we continued with the approval process, which took about 12 months – longer than usual, but this was because we needed time to reflect after each session with the social worker to make sure that this was the right decision for us. Our extended family were largely supportive but did wonder why we would want to start all over again with young children when we had just got ours off our hands.
After much deliberation, we decided that if we were going to make this work my husband would resign from his job in adult social care and become a full time foster carer. I would continue to work full time. This was the exact opposite of what we did when parenting our own children, as my husband went out to work while I was a stay-at-home mum. It did feel a bit odd.
In February 2012 we were approved to foster two or more children aged four or over, either short- or long-term. Since then we have had a number of boys and girls with us for varying lengths of time – one for just three days and others for much longer.
We have had our ups and downs with fostering but, given the chance, we would do it all again. We resolve our problems by talking them through with each other, our wider family and our social worker. It has been a privilege to see the children in our care flourish and we know that we have given them a better chance in life than they would have had without us.
Life has definitely begun (again) at 50. Age is not a barrier to fostering and remember that with age comes wisdom - we’ve seen it all before!