A local couple who have been foster carers for three years, have opened up about their experiences and are urging others to become foster carers.
Suzanne and George Baird, from Newtownabbey currently provide respite care for a young child and have a permanent placement, a girl who has been living with the couple for two and a half years.
Suzanne said: “We considered becoming a foster carer about five years ago, but due to other commitments and some initial concerns we decided to leave it for a while. It was only once both of our own children had grown up that George and I felt the time was right, and we decided to re think a career in foster care. We thought we had done a good job bringing up our own two children so maybe we could offer others a chance at a better life.”
The couple contacted Foster Care Associates and after making initial inquiries, they decided that they wanted to become foster carers. They discussed the issue with family members, who were all supportive of their career choice.
The couple experience mixed reactions from people when they find out that they are foster carers. However, everyone agrees that what they are doing is very worthwhile.
Suzanne explained: “Some people say we’re crazy letting kids, many of who have their own complex problems, into our home, other people are intrigued by what we do and want to know how it all works and how it impacts on our daily lives. Overall though people say it really is a worthwhile job and commend us on what we do.”
Suzanne describes how over time they have become very close.
“At the beginning our foster daughter was very hurtful towards me in particular, through time however, she let her walls down. We have since become extremely close and have a very good relationship. My favourite moment has to be when she asked me if it was ok if she called me mum! It was a very special moment for me as she had trouble accepting me at the start of the placement. We agreed that if she could call me her mum then I could call her my daughter! I love having our foster daughter live with us. She brings so much joy to our house and our family.”
The Baird family have said that the support they have received from FCA has been brilliant, from every level of the group.
Suzanne sums up their time fostering so far as being a great sense of achievement: “I feel a great sense of achievement knowing our family has made a huge difference to the lives of children who have been less fortunate than others. If you are considering fostering attend the FCA training and ask loads of questions. For us, it all seemed so natural to go through the process.
“Also remember that no matter how hard, or how distracted you get with the difficulties, you really will make a huge difference in a young person’s life.”