Hi I'm Sheila, I've been married to Kevin for nearly 12 years; he's put up with me for nearly 18 years! Between us we have 7 children and 13, soon to be 14, grandchildren. Must not forget the parents that live with us too.... My mum (and dad until he recently died) and Kevin's mum - are we mad? It certainly helps.....
About 7 years ago, our lives changed forever. Kevin's son announced that he and his girlfriend were going to have a baby. Yes it was a magical moment. And then panic set in....! We went to conference meetings, family meetings, social workers were in and out of our lives, we learnt what parallel planning was. Supporting the children and at the same time having our own lives unraveled! I remember the kinship foster carers manager saying "think of this as a knitted jumper, we will be unraveling it bit by bit and then put it back together". It was the most nervous, stressful and yet magical time of our lives.
Kevin was googling kinship foster care and made friends with Karen and Shelly; looking for their guidance, help and support, me. I was just taking what was thrown at me. I remember I did a lot of crying and didn't manage one Court date without sobbing. Shelly and Karen were very supportive; we've made lots of friends along the way and have been taken under the wing of Robert.
S (granddaughter) has been with us since she was 10 weeks old. While all this was happening, the parents tell us they are having another baby!! I struggled with this and the thought of 2 under 2s panicked me, but knowing that both under 2s would have special needs, with one wheelchair bound, I won't lie it terrified me. I have the most amazing husband and he didn't pressurise me, but waited patiently until I said YES we can do this!!
K (grandson) moved in at just over a year old and we continue to long term foster him.
Regrets? There are a few, but the biggest one is that we didn't have the little ones from birth.
Well, what more can I say..... I was adopted as a baby, and can empathise. I am a Wife, mother, step-mother, grandmother, carer, special guardian, kinship foster carer, friend and STILL SMILING!