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Caring for the vulnerable

During Foster Care Fortnight, we hear from Hannah Hylton about her family’s journey into fostering

Richard and I had talked about fostering before we got married and thought it was something that God had for us at some point way in the future. However, about two years ago, we felt that it was the right time for us to begin fostering (by this point we already had our two young boys, pictured). Thankfully we are part of dynamic church community that includes other foster carers and several families who have adopted, so we were able to do some real-life exploring of what fostering might look like for our family. I also contacted Home for Good and found reading their book (Home for Good by Krish and Miriam Kandiah) really helped give me a realistic view of the joys and challenges.

Loving well for the short term

We applied through a local council and spent a few months being assessed before becoming approved foster carers last summer. It has been a big change for all of us, but we have been able to trust God through it, believing that he has called us to this role as a family. When Richard and I were preparing to become foster parents, we felt God was calling us to prepare children for their future home, rather than necessarily becoming the forever family for each child we care for. As a mother, I was confident I could care for a child, but the idea of loving a traumatised child and meeting their needs to then pass them on for the next step of their journey was unnerving. Part of me wanted to protect myself from hurt by ‘not loving too much’, enabling me to part with each child more easily when the time came. But God has called us to love as he does, so I will continue to practice trusting him as the God of all comfort who equips us to love fully and say goodbye well, comforting each of us as we need.

We have done a mix of respite fostering, where we have children for a weekend or a couple of weeks, and short-term fostering where we have children for a few months. We have had a young child with us through the last couple of lockdowns (what a time to take in an extra ball of energy!). I would love to say it has all been wonderful, fun and a beautiful outworking of God's heart for children…but it has had some real challenges! We are so grateful to have a support network who will pray with us and for us. We have seen miraculous changes in some areas, such as night terrors stopped in their tracks, but in other areas we still face big challenges.

Answering his call

I am thankful that I have the privilege of partnering with God in this beautiful and sometimes brutal adventure – and that through it he is growing and shaping me. Fostering will not be for everyone, and I have had to keep coming back to the call we heard from God to walk this path. I would highly recommend speaking with Home for Good or reading their book if you want to understand more about how you could become a foster carer or support others in your church who foster.

Message from Home for Good:

Every 15 minutes in the UK, a child will come into care. Many will have suffered neglect or abuse; all will have experience trauma and loss. Home for Good believe every child deserves a stable, loving home where they can thrive. Currently, this isn’t always possible. In the UK there is an urgent need for more than 8,600 more foster families. There are also not enough people coming forward to adopt children who wait the longest for adoption – children over the age of four, with additional needs, from black and minority ethnic communities and who are part of a sibling group.

We believe the Church is ideally placed to ensure that every child and young person has the loving home they need. If you think you could offer a vulnerable child a safe and loving home through fostering, or want to find out more about how you or your church can play your part in finding a home for every child who needs one, we would love to hear from you. Visit our website to find out more, and get in touch: homeforgood.org.uk/get-in-touch

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