Jasmine is the birth child of Merton foster carers. Growing up in a foster family she has seen first-hand what it is like to live with foster children and played a key role, often as an unsung hero in helping young people feel part of the family. We hear from her perspective what fostering is like for a birth child.
We recently recognised your role in the foster family with the Fostering Network's Sons & Daughters campaign. Tell us a bit more about that?
I was given a thank you card and voucher from the fostering team at Merton. I thought it was really nice, as kids we don't do as much as our parents but it's quite nice to be recognised for what we do. It gets overlooked at times but we are sharing our parents.
How long has your family been fostering for?
How does it feel to be part of a foster family?
I've grown up with it so to me it's normal. But it's quite nice because you get to meet new people. At the moment we have two girls staying with us who are younger than me and we get on really well. I'm the youngest in our family so having younger people in the house is good because I'm like a big sister to them. All my older brother and sisters have moved out.
Do you ever feel like you have had to share your parents?
The first time it really hit me was a time when we had a younger girl staying with us. She was very affectionate with my mum and would always hug her and that's the first time it dawned on me that I actually had to share my mum. But I understood that she might not have had a mum or been able to have that kind of relationship with a mother.
Do you think about society differently?
Yes, it makes me appreciate what I've got and I want to help foster children as much as my parents want to. Especially if they are closer to my age. If we have a foster child staying with us who is the same age as me I try to give them advice, speak to them and make them feel at home. The girls are lot more easier to bond with and I've got on really well with them. When I was younger it was harder to get on with older foster kids but the older I got the easier it's been.
Do you enjoy seeing the changes in young people when they are in your family?
Seeing people change in a positive way is one of the best things about being involved with fostering. We've had a few people who were quiet when they first came but have opened up the longer they stayed. One example is a young boy who came to live with us. Before he came he was told he was going to live on the moon so when he arrived he was very timid, shy and quiet. But after a while of living with us and making him feel like part of the family he opened up and before he left he wouldn't stop talking!
Would you like to foster when you are older and have a family of your own?
I think I would. I have seen the positive effect we have had on children who have come to live with us and how they have changed. It makes me feel like I want to do the same. Because I have grown up with it and seen it first hand, I know what it involves.
What do your friends think?
Some of them think fostering is an amazing thing and think my mum and dad are so brave offering love to children who need it. Some of them question it, but to me it's normal. When they come over they ask questions about who is staying here and I have to explain it and they say well done to me. I often have to explain the reasons why particularly teenagers can't go home because they don't understand that some living situations are not right for a young person.
or give us a call on freephone 0800 073 0874
or alternatively dial 020 8545 4070 from a mobile