"Animals help my foster children find confidence": Rhonda’s story
Animal-lovers Rhonda and Russell share the benefits of pets for foster children.
Rhonda and Russell have fostered with Action for Children for four years. After raising their own children who remain close and supportive, the couple wanted their family to grow.
Rhonda said, “I'm very fortunate to have such a huge circle of support, and my family are amazing. I've got two older daughters and a grandson. My daughters are like grown up siblings to my foster children. They call my grandson their nephew, it all feels so natural.”
The couple welcomed two siblings into their home and found their animals also had their part to play in making the children feel welcome.
"We’ve got lots of animals and that is really positive for our foster children. I found children coming into the home don't always relate with people straight away. But animals are a great barrier breaker. We've got a rabbit, a cat and a horse. The rabbit needs to be looked after, and having a horse is a huge commitment, but they love it. Going to the stables and helping care for the animals is really good for building their confidence. Children and young people like to feel needed."
"Me and my husband Russell started thinking about fostering when my daughters were 15 and 19. My oldest daughter was getting ready to go to university at the time.
"Russell and I knew that we still had so much more to give back, we weren't ready to stop. Although my girls had moved on, we had this gap that we knew we could fill by giving children a really nice, happy environment to grow. We chose Action for Children because they’re a charity and give a lot back to the community. We got a family feel from the very first time we met them.
"Fostering allows me to live the life I think I was born to live; I was born to be a parent. I love looking after people, children especially. And that's what draws you to being a foster carer, I think.
"It allows me to have time to look after my family, to look after myself, and do things I like to do. But being able to bring these children on and watch them flourish and feel a part of a family is why I do it. It is a lovely feeling to see them being so relaxed within our family. Knowing that, just being the loving family we are has made them feel that way. When you see those children thriving and you know you've been a part of that. It’s just fantastic."
When you see those children thriving and you know you've been a part of that. It’s just fantastic.Rhonda
"I would encourage anyone thinking about fostering to consider teenagers. Teenagers can be great fun and you get so much back. They understand what you're trying to do for them, and nine times out of ten, they're very receptive to feeling secure. Something that they might never have had put in place for them, like a nice cosy bedroom, is important to a teenager. And they really do respond well to that.
"I've found my experience fostering like a roller coaster ride. It really, really is. But for me, it's so rewarding. There are challenges every day but the rewards that you get back, the warmth, the gratitude that you feel. All of that is worth every single other emotion that's tied up in being a foster carer."
"If you've thought about fostering, then take the next step, make a phone call, put an online application. Someone will call you back. You don't have to do it, but make enquiries because honestly, it's worth it."
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