Kellymarie Collins, Care Leaver
Kellymarie Collins is 21 years old and lives in Cookstown. She has lived mainly with her foster carers, Eileen and Hector Mullan and family, for the last 17 years. Although she has her own place, she visits the Mullans daily.
She shares her story:
“I came into foster care when I was three years old. Even though I was very young I knew things weren’t right at home. My father drank quite a lot and my mum wasn’t really fit to look after me so I actually made social services aware of the situation after climbing out of my bathroom window on a number of occasions and calling the police.
When I first came to Eileen’s house I was a bit of a troublemaker and it did take me a while to get settled. But they all made me feel so welcome and I became very comfortable. To them I wasn’t a foster child, I was just one of Eileen’s own and treated exactly the same as everyone else in the house.
Eileen and I have a very special relationship to this day. I lived with my sister for a while when I was younger but I always willingly came back to Eileen’s. I go on family holidays and was even bridesmaid at Eileen’s daughter’s wedding six years ago. She now has a wee baby and I’m her auntie. I’ve such an extended family now – lots of grannies, mums, brothers and sisters – it’s just great!
I have a very good relationship with my birth mother today. I was always a much loved child and I maintained contact with my parents over the years. My mum knows I understand why I had to go into care and I don’t blame her at all. I’m actually grateful that I’ve been fostered because if I hadn’t I don’t know how I would have turned out. Coming to Eileen’s house really did change my life.
Fostering has given me a lot of confidence. When I was a teenager I was a bit down about myself but Eileen has given me such self belief. She actually entered me into the Miss Cookstown competition last year where I came third. I was a bit nervous about it last year but she’s entered me in it again this year and I think I’ll be more confident about getting out there. She definitely is an inspiration in my life – she shows me what there is in the world and to believe in myself and not put myself down.”
Eileen Mullan says: “Kellymarie came to us when she was three years old as an emergency weekend placement and 17 years later she’s still with me! I’m so fond of her, she’s just part of the family – a daughter really. I take great pleasure in having her about. She keeps me young! I would recommend fostering to others at it has been an absolutely wonderful experience for me, my family and hopefully for Kellymarie.”