Fostering case studies - Dave

`We are all look forward to spending time together as a family at Christmas`

Whatever religious significance Christmas may have to people, there is surely no doubt that it is a hugely important occasion for families to spend valuable time together in a way that seems more and more under threat. In these days of increasing fragmentation, isolation and demand on the family, such opportunities are precious, and it is important to grasp them.

This is as true for foster families as it is for any other, more traditional, family group. And so it is that this Christmas we'll be getting together with our foster children, both past and present. James is now 23 and lives independently, and Simon is 21 and at university. Both will join us, along with our other three boys who live at home with us.

As permanency foster carers, we are perhaps lucky to have the chance to involve the young people who live with us in this extended way. When they come to us, it is with the intention that it will be a permanent relationship that will see them through to adulthood. And, as with any other family, we hope that, once they spread their wings and move away, they will remain in touch and supported by us.

So, the tree is up and decorated, the turkey ordered, cards (almost) sent and presents sorted. The house has the appearance of mainly-controlled chaos, and excitement is mounting. Indeed, if Father Christmas fails to turn up at the appointed time, there will be a major diplomatic incident between Carlisle and the North Pole.

It's a very busy time, but we wouldn't have it any other way. For the last 15 years, we've offered a permanent home to children who, for whatever reason, have not been able to remain with their birth parents. Sometimes it has been hard but, despite the odd panic, we've never had cause to seriously doubt the decision we made all those years ago. It has been an absolute privilege to welcome these children into our home, to live with them, and to watch them grow. Sometimes the steps taken are small, sometimes they're large, but always they're important and often humbling.

And for us, this is reward enough. Merry Christmas!


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