Throughout her 15-year fostering career, Annette has supported more than 20 children and became a 'Special Guardian' to three of them. Most recently, she's shifted her focus to parent and child fostering.
From little things like doing better at school to bigger achievements like learning how to speak properly for the first time after a traumatic event, seeing her foster children’s progress is what keeps Annette going. But the love that she shares with them gives her the most joy.
Mother hen to so many
Because of the nature of her role in the children’s lives and her warm and loving personality, Annette is lovingly known as ‘mother hen’ at Orange Grove.
Annette is very passionate about the work she does and has dedicated her life to supporting parents who need additional support to raise their children in the early days and giving vulnerable children a better life.
Annette’s fostering journey is truly remarkable and she cherishes each and every moment of it. She has photos of all the children she has fostered throughout her fostering journey framed in her home with a heart next to them. She said: “Every time I look at them, my reward is the realisation that I have touched so many hearts!”
A beautiful memory
Annette recalls a lovely time with one of her foster children who made her school Mother’s Day presentation about her saying that she loved Annette so much because she picked her.
She welled up as she said: “If we can make our kids feel like we have chosen them, that’s a big deal for them because they have never been chosen before.”
Annette believes that showing the children that they are wanted and loved is very important for their growth.
Becoming a parent and child foster parent
Annette now focuses on parent and child fostering which is where either one or both of the parents, of any age, move into the foster parent’s home alongside their children. As a parent and child foster parent, Annette helps provide a safe and nurturing environment to both the birth parents and children.
There are various reasons why birth parents might be supported by foster parents alongside their children, ranging from inexperience as a parent to disabilities or safety concerns. Parent and child foster parents like Annette are highly experienced. They support birth parents and empower them with vital parenting skills, so they’re able to respond to their baby's needs and provide them with a healthy and happy childhood.
Annette said: “It’s beautiful to see a mum and her baby bond and when a mum wants to work with you to give her child a better life, that’s even more joyful.”
Advice for prospective foster parents...
Annette wants more people to consider fostering as a career and to better understand the role of a foster parent. She said: “We’re not mums, we’re not dads, but we play that role for them when they need it most.”
During her journey as a foster parent, she has tried to make birth parents feel like they too are an important part of their children’s lives and has done so by making sure that they receive pictures, paintings, and Mother’s and Father’s Day cards.
Her advice for prospective foster parents is that they should go into it with an open mind and heart and try to keep the child’s birth parents in the picture when possible and safe to do so.
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