"Fostering is something that I have always wanted to do"

13/05/2019

Susan Maitland is a foster carer for Belfast Trust. A classroom assistant in a special needs school, Susan explains how fostering children with a disability has enriched her life and that of her family including her two children.

“Fostering is something that I have always wanted to do. The timing was never quite right but a few years ago Belfast Trust Fostering Service came into my place of work to talk about fostering and the timing just happened to be perfect. I have a 19-year-old son and a 15 year old daughter and I felt I was beginning to have a little more space and time to devote to fostering.

I obviously had to have the entire family on board with the idea of fostering which they all were. If they hadn’t supported the idea, I wouldn’t have pursued fostering. As it is, my children are more than happy to have other kids coming to stay with us both short term and long term.

Some of the children I look after have very challenging behaviours, which can be very difficult for family life but we work around this. The children who come here make us happy; we love them. Yes, they have challenges, they have difficulties but it just enriches us as a family. Both my son and daughter just love doing things with them. The children we foster get a great family life but we also get an awful lot out of it as well.

Any child who is fostered will have their own challenges, different ones to a child who isn’t apart from their birth parent faces. They need patience and time to settle and they need you to understand what they’re going through. It can be really tough bringing another child into your home but they bring us so much happiness and joy in return.

Fostering is a challenge for any one. My partner of 26 years happens to live in a different country so I am pretty much a single parent to two teenagers plus whatever looked after child is here with us. There was a little bit of extra logistics required during the application process as the social workers needed to get to know us both, but we coordinated things to make this work because it was something we really wanted to do. I suppose that is all part of the flexibility which being a foster carer requires.

It doesn’t matter if you’re on your own, whether you have a partner or are married, whether you have kids or don’t have kids – if you have the love and the time to commit to fostering, you will get so much in return for it. Absolutely without a doubt, go for it.”

Belfast Trust is hosting a fostering information event ‘’Til I Grow Up’ on Tuesday 21 May from 7-9pm in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Shawsbridge, Belfast. If you are interested in finding out more about long term fostering, including fostering children with a disability, then please come along. You must register for the event by calling 028 9504 0302  or email: Mairead.Sloan@setrust.hscni.net