Lucy is the birth child of a Merton foster family who have been fostering babies and young children in Merton for 7 years. We asked her, what's it really like?
How did you feel when the first foster child came to stay?
I was really excited. The first child that came to stay with us was a baby boy. The last time we had a baby in the house was when my little sister was born and I was too young then to help my mum. But this time I could so I was really happy.
Does fostering feel like you are sharing your parents?
No, not really. My parents would equally spend as much time with us as they did with the new baby, showing us the same amount of love as they always have. It never felt like the baby or child was getting all the attention.
How does it feel to be part of a foster family?
It is interesting and exciting. We get to meet lots of other foster families and their birth children.
Do your friends understand what fostering is?
No. A lot of them confuse it with adoption and they think that the children who stay with us stay forever. But I explain that the child is staying for a short time then will move on to a new family. A lot of them don't hear about fostering that much so I always have to explain what it means.
Does fostering make you more understanding of other children?
Yes it does. The last kid that stayed with us came from a difficult background and when you tried to love him it was really hard because he didn't understand. Now if I see a child on the street not getting their own way and being difficult I understand that maybe they didn't get the same love I did as a child.
What type of relationship do you have with the foster child?
I see it as being an older sister because I help them a lot of the time.
What do you think the best part of fostering is?
I get to spend time helping my mum and it's good being an older sister to lots of children. I also get to see the world differently.
What is the most challenging aspect of fostering?
In the past, when we have had children the same age as me, it's a bit more difficult because they don't understand. In the past some of the kids have taken my stuff and they try to copy me.
How does it feel when a child leaves your family?
It's hard because you have grown up with them, learned to love them and played with them. When they leave it's hard to say goodbye and it's really sad.
Does Merton make you feel special?
Yes. At Christmas they gave me a voucher to spend at my favourite shop and I get invited to a Christmas and Easter parties. I get to do other activities with other children like me who help their parents foster.
What would you say to a family with children who are interested in fostering?
I would say do it! It helps your children understand the world a bit more. They see children from difficult backgrounds and it helps them learn more about the society and the world around them.
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