I’ve been an Action for Children Foster Carer for the last 12 years looking after teenagers who have experienced childhood trauma. When you’re a foster carer, you wear all the hats – advocate, teacher, driver, cook, cleaner, nurturer, therapist, parent – plus you’re accountable. Effectively, you’re on duty in your own home 24/7.
Although it’s so complex dealing with young human lives, I feel I’m doing exactly the right thing. I had a challenging start in life myself, but that has helped me to be a better foster parent. God uses the bad things that have happened to us in life for good purposes. This is how he heals and restores us.
My faith helps me every day to do the job. I am a single parent and carer, and every morning I think about the line from the Bible where God is described as the ‘father to the fatherless’ (Psalm 68:5) and I pray that God will be that in my home.
My current foster child has absolutely flourished, despite the circumstances this year. I am so full of pride and it reduces me to tears when I think about how far she’s come. When she first came to me four years ago, her future didn’t look good. Yet last month she started an internship with the NHS, working on a paediatric neurology ward – she was chosen out of hundreds of applicants. God is healing and restoring her broken life.
She turns 18 in January and that means her foster placement ends, but she wants to stay here with me. I want to give her that opportunity. It would be really unsettling, at just 18, for her to move out after she’s come so far. I have said she can stay – but it’s at the cost of my job. Since I live in a three-bedroom house – one room for me, one for my birth daughter and one for my foster child – I won’t be able to have another foster placement, which is hard to come to terms with.
So, come January, I don’t know what my future will look like. I do feel really challenged about not knowing where my income will come from. But, just like my foster child trusts me with her future, so I trust God with mine. There are many uncertainties and difficulties in life, but God is with us, leading us into healing and restoration.
Dionne is an Action for Children Foster Carer from Northumberland. Action for Children was established in 1869 by a Methodist minister who challenged the church to take action to help children living on the streets. Part of its work is to support foster carers like Dionne, and their foster children, with supervision, oversight, training, and advocacy. For more information about Action for Children and their work, read below.