Debbie, 44, and Billy, 59, from Washington have been foster carers with Together for Children (TfC) for the past seven years
A friend of theirs had adopted through TfC three times which piqued their initial interest in fostering. After an opportunity arose, they attended an information evening and then applied to become foster carers.
It was a long process to become a carer with home visits, panel and training but it was something that Debbie enjoyed.
She said: “When we first started and had to do the Form F, our social worker was coming out for visits and it took quite a while. It was about eight months before we went to panel, but I looked on it as if it were therapy, because you talk about your childhood.”
Over the last seven years, they have looked after six children and are currently looking after 16-month-old Jay. The other children have all been successfully adopted and Debbie and Billy were quick to dispel a certain myth about fostering that comes up a lot for them.
Debbie works part-time in a distribution warehouse, reducing her working hours to two night shifts a week, which enables her to attend fostering training sessions and meetings.
Debbie said: “People say ‘doesn’t it break your heart giving them back?’ Because a child being placed with a forever family through adoption is a happy ending, it’s very rewarding.”
“We’re so lucky because we’re still in touch with every child we have fostered, we meet up during the school holidays. Our biggest compliment is that they’re all still in touch because their parents know how much we loved their child while they were here and we’re actually godparents for a couple of them.”
This is a view echoed by Billy who said: “We’ve been fortunate because it’s so emotionally rewarding, it is a happy story at the end of it when they go off for adoption – especially when you see them changing and they become happy, little people.”