Betsy Anderson, Care Leaver
Betsy lives in Portadown with her husband Mark and six year old son, Sean. She was in care from the age of four. She tells her story:
“I came into care at the age of four and had numerous short term foster placements throughout my early years. I also had a residential stay and then I moved into a long term placement at the age nine. Unfortunately, this placement didn’t work out due to a change in the foster carers’ circumstances. I then moved on to, what was supposed to be, a short term placement but I remained there until I was 18. It was only supposed to be a six week placement but I hit it off with my foster family so well they took me on as a long term placement.
I didn’t settle with this family overnight – that was something that came with time. Although I did get on well with the other children in the home I was still insecure in my own mind. I felt that I had heard the term ‘long term placement’ before. My last placement was supposed to be long term but it fell through so there was nothing stopping this one falling through as well. But I became so much part of that family. I felt more at home than I ever had before and I am still very close to this family today.
I remember sitting at the dinner table one evening and my foster father saying how squashed we were for space. I immediately thought this was it – I’m going. Then in the next breath he asked how I would feel about getting an extension put on the house. They were actually making room for me! It meant the world to me because it was then I actually realised this was for the long term.
I was so lucky that I didn’t have to move area or schools when I moved to my long term home. Those constants made it so much easier to feel comfortable and settle. I was able to remain friends with the same friends and I still had the dream of moving onto the same High school. It was also largely down to the other foster children in the house that I felt more at ease because I was aware they were either fostered or adopted. Whenever I saw that they had settled so well – I thought maybe I could be happy here too.
My foster family have helped me become who I am today. They encouraged me in so many ways – it’s just unbelievable. They gave me an insight into what it is to be a family and how normal families should function. They also showed me love and a willingness to let me know that there’s someone there for me. They made me feel secure – and that’s something I never really felt in the past when I was being moved from home to home.
Getting an education was very important in the family. They made sure I was always at school. They furthered me on and I went on to university to get a degree. They helped me be a success rather than a victim.
I’ve learnt morals and values through watching my foster family that I now carry on in my own family life. My fostering experience has made me more confident as a mum and I know what I’m doing will turn out right for Sean and it’s thanks to my foster family that that can happen.”