Thursday, 26 May 2011

Being in foster care feels like home

Following the great response to Pip's entry last week, we spoke to 12-year-old Wirral-based Amy, who tells us - in her own words - why being in care has come to feel like home.

I was six when I first came into foster care, and at first I thought being in foster care would be like Annie, with Miss Hannigan! I had never been to school that much, except for Friday’s when a social worker would come along to make sure we were going to school, but even then me and my sister tried to get out of it.  However now I actually don’t mind going, as I have a lot of really nice friends and I love most of the lessons, especially chemistry were we can blow up things! And I am doing alright in other subjects as I am in the top set for a lot of lessons.

Sue, my foster carer, explained to me from the very beginning how important getting an education was and how it could give me choices and change my life for the better when I grow up. In year 6, she encouraged me to enter for the 11 plus, as she believed I was capable, though my teacher disagreed. My social worker Andrea also supported me all the way as well. Having only 10 weeks to prepare for the exam, Sue provided me with a tutor and I had some lessons on the weekend using workbooks with Sue.

I was really pleased with myself for getting into a grammar school, but mostly I am proud of getting my mum and my Nan being proud of me. I can’t remember one time I made them proud, and I found out that I had passed my 11+ the day I saw my Nan, which made it more special.

I like all the presents I get at Christmas and on my birthday, I get three sets of them. Off my Nan and my aunties and uncles, off my mum and brothers and sisters and then off my foster carer, but I also really enjoy the holidays we go on, I love going abroad!

Although I know I will always love and miss my family, I now know that I would never have come this far if I had stayed living in my old lifestyle. Sue, my foster carer and her two daughters have helped me to believe in myself.

Probably the worst thing about being in foster care is when you miss your mum. You can’t always ring her for comfort and you can’t always see her when you want a big hug, but you can always ask your foster carer for comfort.

Being in foster care it’s just exactly the same as being with your family, it is normal to be a bit shaky or a bit scared at first, I was, but you soon get used to it. After a while you hardly even think about yourself being in care, it just feels like home.

For more info and advice on fostering, please visit the BAAF website. If you are considering becoming a foster carer, check out's Could You Foster? website.

You can also find a wide range of books about fostering on BAAF online bookstore.

Friday, 20 May 2011

My life as a fostered child

Earlier this week, we heard Andy Hider's incredible story. Today, we speak to one of her foster children, 19-year-old Pip, who explains what life is like to be fostered.

I’ve been in care since I was three and I’m 19 now. I used to come to Andy’s for respite when I lived with my old foster carer - and that’s how I first met her. I’ve now been here, at Andy’s, about two and a half years. When I first visited I used to say, ‘Oh I wish I lived here’ and I’m so glad that that wish has come true. Before that, I was living on my own with a foster carer and I didn’t really enjoy living there. Eventually, I had a meeting about it and the outcome was that I couldn’t stay where I was. Then Andy stepped up and said ‘Pip’s coming with me’ - she said that she wanted to continue caring for me because I’m not much trouble. It’s nice of her and I hope I don’t give her anything to worry about!

I get on really well with her birth children, so it was all quite easy. She’s very different to other foster carers – she lets me grow up and gives me space and freedom. What you’ve got to realise is that everyone is different – but with Andy it feels like a good match. She’s fostered for an awful long time so she’s got a lot of experience. She’s fostered over 80 kids! I’m so glad she didn’t decide to retire - she always says to me that everything happens for a reason.

The only downside right now is that I’m nearing the time when I have to leave Andy’s – and I’m not looking forward to that because I love it here.

I’ve got to say that I really do give credit to people that foster because it’s a very hard job. People have to realise that when you’re looking after somebody else’s child, they’ve been bought up a certain way and they may bring all their troubles with them. So if people are interested in fostering, that’s great because it is a very hard job - I wouldn’t be able to do it! You’ve got to be up for the commitment. From what I know, it’s 24/7 and you’ve got to love kids to do it. It’s a big thing, but if you want to help change someone’s life then that’s great.

For more info and advice on fostering, please visit the BAAF website. If you are considering becoming a foster carer, check out's Could You Foster? website.

You can also find a wide range of books about fostering on BAAF online bookstore.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Why I've fostered for 26 years

As we enter Foster Care Fortnight, we chat to Andy Hider, an extraordinary woman who has fostered over 80 teenagers across 26 years. Here, she tells us what fostering means to her.

After my marriage broke down, I was in a situation where I was struggling financially – but I thought that if I went out to work 9-5, my youngest son probably wouldn’t be able to cope. He needed me to be a full-time mum, so I needed to find something where I could work from home. I have to say that this was it – I really did just fall into fostering.

Following my initial enquiry, I got sent to one of these big meetings where anyone who is interested turns up. I think that out of 100 initial enquiries, there were only two of us that came through in the end as foster carers.

To begin with, I wasn’t sure about fostering, but my sons encouraged me to think again and the social worker must have seen something in me because he called me again. From there, it was about six months of training, and then my first placement walked through the door. After that, I never stopped!

I actually found that I was good at it, and even at the grand age that I am now, being a teenager is the one age group that I can identify with still – I remember feeling that no-one understood me, the whole world was against me...all of that stuff! I absolutely love teenagers.

My heart always went out to the birth parents – if I had time, I would have set up a support group for all the birth parents where they could come together and support each other. I think it must be so difficult to watch somebody else bring up your child.

One thing that people always ask about is the effect on my birth children, and what I say to them is that I didn’t foster alone; we were a family that fostered. There were times when I felt guilty that my sons had to share me, but I believe that the fostering has turned them into much more rounded and caring adults.

I’m 66 now and still fostering. I did try to retire once when I was 60. I had a big party, but then the agency I was with asked if I would continue with a little bit of respite care and also recruit and train new foster carers. But the inevitable happened and a young person whose foster carer had called an end to the placement wanted to stay on with me, and I was back to full time foster care again.

Over the 26 years I’ve been doing this, I look back at times and think, ‘How did I do that?!’ but it’s lovely when the kids (now adults!) ring me up and say, ‘Oh I’d give anything to come back and live at yours!’ Or they tell me it was the happiest time of their life – and that’s when you really know you’ve made a difference.

I think I’ve fostered about 80 teenagers in total, and I’m still very passionate about it. To anyone thinking about foster care: maybe you’ve thought about it for years and are still sitting on the fence – it’s that initial phone call that can be a difficult first step. But do pick up the phone – you’re not committing yourself straight away and you’ve got to start somewhere! My best advice is to speak to another foster carer and hear about their experiences. Fostering has enhanced my life beyond anything else I’ve done and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

For more info and advice on fostering, please visit the BAAF website. If you are considering becoming a foster carer, check out's Could You Foster? website.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Twitter Roundup: The Gatwick Baby

For those who missed last night's BBC documentary 'The Gatwick Baby here's a little clip of this amazing show.

Read on below for a roundup of the chatter on Twitter last night during the screening - don't forget to add your comments at the end!

@BAAFAdoption watched Gatwick baby made us realise that the kids we adopt need as much info as possible as they go through life.

Fell asleep b4 the end of the saddest programme about the baby found in Gatwick toilets. Will iplayer it later. I hope he finds his mama!

@scott_mills must've been a night for it i was hot and dreamt i was the mum of the baby who was left at gatwick ? no tv on as going to sleep

Watched the gatwick baby programme tonight. Mixed feelings about the whole thing.

The Gatwick Baby documentry on BBC was fascinating, sad story. Can't imaging what that guy has been through

Watched that program about the baby that was abandoned in gatwick airport & he is now 24 looking for his mother!

Good luck to Stephen 'the Gatwick baby' #abandonedbabies

Moved by the story of "The Gatwick Baby" (BBC1). Wish him the best of luck!

Wish the Gatwick Baby programme had had a happy ending with Steven finding his mum. #lifeisnotadisneyfilm

Just watchd the program of the boy who was abandoned at gatwick airport as a baby such a sad story and also it's relevant to my project q

is feeling emotional after watching The Gatwick Baby documentary on #BBC1.

Watching "The Gatwick Baby: Abandoned at Birth"

Just been watching the Gatwick Baby docu on Bbc1. A man abandoned 24 years ago searches for his blood mum. A gripping, sad, detective story.

@matt_cardle_uk is this the gatwick baby thing? I was watching that, amazing story, best of luck to him x

Just watched 'The Gatwick Baby: Abandoned at birth' must be awful not to know where you come from.

The Gatwick Abandoned Baby Story was very heart wrenching. How can people do that?!

Just watched 'The Gatwick Baby: Abandoned at Birth' on BBC 1. Not my usual sorta thing but really enjoyed it. Steve seemed like a nice bloke

:'( wish the gatwick baby's mum had come forward at the end :'(

Just watched The Gatwick Baby despite intentions to go to bed early! Come on Caffers, stir yourself!

An amazing documentary on BBC 1 at the moment "the Gatwick baby"

damn...and no answer at the end.. Sad really “@Headscribbles: The Gatwick Baby is very sad :(”

@BAAFAdoption the Gatwick Baby is showing at 10.45pm on Wed on BBC Scotland.

Watching The Gatwick Baby on BBC1. I feel so sorry for the guy who was abandoned. Amazing to think anyone would do that.

The Gatwick Baby is very sad :(

Watching the gatwick baby

I am in shock at the stories being told on #BBC1's 'The Gatwick Baby' who would dream abandoning a 1day year old baby in a carrier bag?!?!?

Friend of OH on the Gatwick baby prog. He was the younger guy who found a baby at a pub in Etwall. Bad that mums feel they have to do this.

Watching the Gatwick baby ! apparently last year a baby was abandoned in a bing bag out side a pub :/ #cruel

Anyone watching The Gatwick Baby? He reckons his mothers Irish. Anyone accidentally leave a baby in Gatwick Airport 24 years ago?

Watching 'the Gatwick baby' and I'm amazed people can abandon their children, it's so sad! I really feel for them all

watching the Gatwick baby .... so sad , bless him :-(

Amazing story on BBC1: The Gatwick Baby. 24yo man investigates the story of his abandonment as a newborn baby in the airport. iPlay it.

Just watching the baby abandoned at gatwick airport, strange to think someone has gone and still is going through it...

@magic140 J H
Watching BBC1 - How have they done that - this is amazing? the baby abandoned at Gatwick 24 yrs on

Watching #GatwickBaby. So sad that so many children R abandoned each year. I cant imagine the mothers state of mind. Very sad all round.

don't get how someone could abandon their baby :( #gatwickbaby

How heartbreaking for this woman to be abandoned the appeal for the mother to find a half brother n he was also abandoned :-( #GatwickBaby

Watching #gatwickbaby on BBC1. Completely beyond me how anyone can dump their new born baby. Soso sad

Can't wait to watch #TheGatwickBaby poor lad! Really hope it's on #iPlayer tonight!

I cant imagine growing up and living life not knowing in that situation, a real eye opener. #gatwickbaby #thegatwickbaby

What a lovely guy. My heart goes out to him. #thegatwickbaby

@BAAFAdoption BAAF
#TheGatwickBaby - what did you all think?

#thegatwickbaby oh he's so sweet.

Watching #TheGatwickBaby Must be hard to be a foundling, wonder how many more there would be without contraception/terminations?

Watching #thegatwickbaby so unbelievable!

A reminder that you can visit for more search & reunion info and advice #TheGatwickBaby

What happens if he finds his mother, but she dosn't want to get involved? oh man. #TheGatwickBaby

Watching #TheGatwickBaby poor lad wonder if he'll ever find who his mother is n why she abandoned him....?

#TheGatwickBaby..utterly hearbreaking already... what a lovely bloke, despite that heartache and abandonment.....#bbc1 #qualitybloke

Watching #TheGatwickbaby - very upsetting but very interesting #bbc1

@BAAFAdoption I watched this a few weeks ago - really brings it home how these children need as much information as possible #TheGatwickBaby

Watching #TheGatwickBaby. Can't imagine abandoning yur baby in the airport

Antony and the Johnsons on #TheGatwickBaby <3

@BAAFAdoption BAAF
Don't forget #TheGatwickBaby on BBC One now

DVD's done, now watching a fascinating doc' on The Gatwick Baby on BBC, the fella seems amazingly centred considering his birth.

I am watching The Gatwick Baby: Abandoned at Birth on BBC1 N West 10:25pm Sun 8 May @tvguideshows #GBAAB

Now watching the gatwick baby. Can't begin to imagine what abandoned babies go thro

Just watching the Gatwick Baby! So sad, and amazing seeing siblings who were both abandoned by mother 2 years apart find each other :-)

#BBC1 'The Gatwick Baby' - compelling stuff.

Gatwick baby - bbc1 Holding back the tears, I'll never understand it...

Watching the Gatwick Baby on BBC1. Really struggling with the term foundling...

Anyone else watching The Gatwick Baby on BBC1?? It's about a man who was found as a ten day old baby abandoned at Gatwick. :(

Gatwick baby could be from anywhere in the world...wrong.. Looking at him I can safely rule out Asia, Africa and most of the Americas. #bbc

watching the documentary about the baby who was dumped at Gatwick Airport who's now a father and wanted to find out more. touching but sad.

The Gatwick Baby: Abandoned at Birth

Not sure what's worse.... being abandoned as a baby at the airport or ending up with the name Gary Gatwick

Really enjoying The Gatwick Baby..abandoned at sad it is to be a founderling..but happily, I wouldn't know anything about that!!

I have just cried at 'The Gatwick Baby' programme after literally 2 minutes of it being on. #fanny

Watching the Gatwick baby, quite shocking if I am honest

I encourage people to watch "The Gatwick Baby" on BBC1 right now - it's sure to bring a few tears, but hopefully a few answers for the chap

Watching about the guy who was abandoned at Gatwick airport as a baby. So sad but lovely at the same time.

watching the gatwick baby, how can someone just leave their baby..

Watching the gatwick abandoned baby!!!!! sad :-(

Watching that program about the baby that was abandoned in Gatwick. I think it's gonna be really interesting!

#nowwatching The Gatwick Baby

BBC The Gatwick Baby looks like a #tearjerker

going to watch the abandoned Gatwick baby program... might need tissues!

why am I such a freak and watching "the gatwick baby: abandoned at birth" I'm like ohmigod I was standing right there last week!

Watching The Gatwick Baby moving and it's just started!

goodnight. going to watch the Gatwick baby.

If you missed it the gatwick baby:abandoned at birth on #bbc3 about to be repeated on #bbcone

22:25 The Gatwick Baby: Abandoned at Birth: Film about a man, abandoned at Gatwick Airport as a baby, trying to find…

@TubridyTweets Remember the guy in LLS audience few weeks ago who was abandoned in Gatwick as a baby? Noticed his story is on BBC1 tonight.

I am watching The Gatwick Baby Abandoned at Birth. feel sorry for the poor guy and other babies abandoned at birth

I saw the gatwick baby in tesco x

@hotelgatwick It was called 'The Gatwick Baby: Abandoned at Birth' First broadcast a few weeks back. Still on iPlayer tho...

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