My parents were foster carers. I was brought up in a house full of children and babies. Sometimes there were as many as ten children under our roof. Four of us, and up to five small ones.
My Mum began her career in the early sixties and continued throughout her life. When Dad retired, he too, became a full-time foster carer. They continued until they were seventy-five, and ill health forced them to retire.
People often asked what it was like growing up in such a busy household, and whether I resented them taking the affection of my parents.
The answer was no, they never had favourites, not even us. We were all treated equally, fairly, and with love. The first child came when I was two, and they continued throughout my life. It was my normal. My parents embraced all their children.
During their lifetime, they adopted four and had two long-term foster children. Our first long-term child came in 1972 aged two, and she is still part of the family.
In the 80s, they fostered children with limited lifespans. One had Pattau Syndrome, whom they later adopted, and the other had Hydrocephalus and Cerebral Palsy. One was blind, the other deaf and partially sighted. Both were non-verbal and in wheelchairs. Each of them lived longer than expected, one till ten, the other, twenty-five. I had left home by that time. They were lovely children full of character and most of all, happy in their short lives.
Then in the nineties, they began fostering short-term children again. They fell in love with a five-year-old, who’d had a tough time in life. He was quickly followed by two of his siblings. They became Mum and Dad’s second family and were adopted.
A few years later, they took in another child. She was a tube-fed baby who had Cerebral Palsy and severe Spina Bifida, which would eventually limit her life span. Again, she lived longer than was anticipated and reached her mid-twenties.
I’ve never been tempted to follow in my mother’s footsteps. Her love of being with children and giving them the support they had missed out on, was something I saw every day. My mother was a remarkable woman. I see her in my own daughter and the way she is bringing up her family of four. She has Mum’s patience and kind heart.
Mum’s sister Mavis Humby followed in her footsteps and became a foster carer, too. A few years ago, Mavis wrote a book called Other People’s Children. She tells funny and often heartbreaking stories about the ones in her care. She won the title of Mum in Million back in the nineties, which led to a visit to Buckingham Palace, all covered in the book.
Most of all, there is a whole paragraph devoted to her beloved sister, my Mum. I also get a small mention.
Amazon reviewers seem to love it, so I’ve included it with a few others on the same subject.