Anthony and Joyce fostered over 185 looked after children
Anthony and Joyce have been foster carers for exactly 26 years until they recently retired. During that time they have fostered and cared for 185 children needing either emergency placements or respite care. The couple have also fostered a further 13 children on a long-term basis, each one becoming part of their fostering family.
Before becoming foster carers, Joyce had previous experience working and volunteering with children within the local authority and wanted to continue making a difference to the lives of young people in her community.
The couple made the choice to foster after Anthony retired at the age of 60, deciding it was the perfect time for them and their family.
Before attending an open day and speaking to the team at Fostering Rotherham, Joyce had assumed that they might be too old to begin fostering, recalling:
"People told us that at our age we should be sitting down and relaxing, not looking after teenage children, but we disagreed!”
After speaking to current foster carers within Rotherham’s fostering community, the couple felt reassured that their age was no limiting factor and any remaining doubts were dispelled making the choice to start their fostering journey soon after.
When they began fostering, Anthony and Joyce had one of their children living at home. Joyce explained that they discussed their decision to foster with all their children before taking steps to become carers; "We wanted them all to be involved one way or another; we wanted it to be a family thing".
When asked how their children reacted to the idea of becoming foster siblings, the couple said that Anthony's youngest son, then aged 9, thought that it was a great idea and really looked forward to having another child in the house.
“We haven't had any time when we haven't felt a part of the team. We've had wonderful support workers, and there's always somebody there if you want to chat about a child or even about things that are going on in your life that might affect the young person.”
There is no doubt over their amazing 26 years of fostering, Anthony and Joyce have had countless memorable moments. When asked what stood out the most, Anthony described their time fostering a young unaccompanied asylum seeker whom the couple took under their wing and helped him through the process of applying for asylum. They explained what a lovely young man he's grown up to be and that they still regard him as part of the family; Joyce warmly explains:
"He still calls us asking to come to see us and even brings his washing over! When any of our children are having a party, he's automatically invited, as are many of the other children we've fostered over the years."
Looking back to 1995, Anthony also talked about the second child they ever fostered and how he's joined the family; they now regard his children and their grandchildren.
Joyce also recounted; “I remember a little boy who cried and cried when he first arrived, but two of our foster children who were with us at that time went upstairs and brought all these cars and toys down, and they laid on the floor to play with the toys, so this little boy stopped crying and got down on the floor with them". Joyce warmly explained "That's the joy of fostering, it's so worthwhile, and it's wonderful to see these young people grow".
“That's the joy of fostering, it's so worthwhile, and it's wonderful to see these young people grow".
Anthony and Joyce say that they could fill a book with what they have got out of fostering. They also know what an impact a positive first fostering experience can have on a child and their future. The couple agreed that they would have countless good memories to look back upon when they get old; "we didn't want it to end, and we still don't".
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