Home for Good is a national campaign to raise the profile of fostering and adoption in UK churches, organised by Care for the Family and the Evangelical Alliance.If you are interested in finding out more, there is an event by Home for Good on 18th November.
Louise shares her story with us:
"...a glimpse of what Jesus meant by ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’"
Tell us about yourself… It's nearly 10 years since I voiced aloud the idea of fostering whilst out with my housemates at the time. I can still picture the scene of us at dinner in Hammersmith, but I think those friends and others would say that it was as if they'd already known I wanted to be involved with fostering way before that. My career has been involved with children as a teacher but I've always known alongside that, I would not remain full time in that environment forever. That has unfolded to be true with my involvement with Kidz Klub, fostering and most recently my role as Children's Champion in Hawksworth Wood, supporting the young people in my area as they make the transition from primary to High school and growing relationships within the community that engage with children for the long term.
"Although it’s costly when you invest in others it also further blesses your own family."
How do you know Jesus? My best friend’s family was instrumental to my coming to know Jesus and tasting the love God has for us. They live their lives invested in forming secure and affirming relationships within their family that allow them to be entirely welcoming of others to ‘belong’ to that. Although it’s costly when you invest in others it also further blesses your own family. I wouldn’t be who I am today without their example and that was definitely the starting point for me in wanting to be involved in fostering, to live my life open to others in a way that can be a blessing. My own family background has not always been straightforward but has both equipped me with skills to offer in fostering through the way I was parented, alongside motivation to do so and some understanding that life isn’t always as you’d like it to be; my Dad died when I was 8 and my Mum married again when I was in those tricky teenage years!
"My own family background has not always been straightforward but has both equipped me with skills to offer in fostering..."
What are your experiences of fostering? I have always thought I would foster after I’d established my own family but God has a sense of humour and through the unlikely prompting of a TV series called ‘Gilmore Girls’ nearly 5 years ago, I recognised that it was time to investigate if there was a type of fostering that I could be involved in now, and there is! I am involved in a scheme now called ‘Supported care’. The scheme runs on many different criteria but is generally designed to support families and prevent the children being taken into the care system. There are many families without a wider network of other adults in life that they can trust with their children. The extra time out can benefit both the children and parent or parents. A placement is suggested to last approximately 18 months so that there is the momentum of improvement. However, a placement may end quite suddenly because the situation has improved or deteriorated but this isn’t usually the case.
"The challenge to see life differently and not fit into conventions and expectations that society implies life should hold, is exciting and liberating, definitely a glimpse of what Jesus meant by ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’"
What are the challenges? Although I can expect and hope for change and improvement in the lives of the young people I engage with, it is rarely at a pace that you’d hope; leaving a lot of loose ends and messiness as you go which is challenging to live amongst. Building IKEA furniture, making advent candles, baking, etc. activities with a definite end, are a blessing that God is revealing to balance that challenge. I certainly hadn’t realised that was why I found building IKEA furniture so satisfying!
"...he had the opportunity to find faith because of the foster family..."
Why would you encourage others to foster or support those who do? ‘Home for good’ is a fabulous book that I would encourage anyone to read. It celebrates that fostering and adoption is something for the whole church to be involved with, whether in a tiny or life consuming way! I continue to be inspired that Viv Thomas, a worldwide speaker, who I have learnt so much from, had the opportunity to find faith because of the foster family he found himself with. They would never have known that he would become a powerful communicator of God’s love to more people than can be counted!
So with only a weekend a month, I get to be a little bit involved in this vision and hugely blessed by it! Some of the blessing comes through the challenge of course and being outside of my comfort zone, although I have had quite straightforward placements so far. The challenge to see life differently and not fit into conventions and expectations that society implies life should hold, is exciting and liberating, definitely a glimpse of what Jesus meant by ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’