My name is Siobhan, I’m 21 years old and I was brought up with my sister in foster care.
I came to live in Irene and Len’s house when I was 2 years old, so I have no memory of a time before being in their house. It was a very different experience to the ones some of my friends who were in care had. Luckily, that was because they tried to normalise our lives as much as possible.
In reality, it was probably not that different to the upbringing of a child who wasn’t in care.
I was placed with my sister Claire, and that was very important for us. We fought like cat and dog, but it’s all a part of being a family. It was really nice for me to have someone who was related to me, even though we call Irene and Len ‘Nan and Bamps’. They are family, but my sister and I have a closer connection, so I am so thankful we were placed together.
Nan and Bamps supported us in every way a parent does. They treated us as family, and we were never treated like we were in care, so I never felt different or unsupported. Then there are all the ways Calon Cymru have been there for us too.
Not only did I do my year 10 work experience with them, but we also have a pretty unique connection in that Sharon Cavaliere (Calon Cymru Fostering’s Operations Director) was the social worker that placed us with Irene and Len, and is someone we are still in touch with today. The staff at Calon Cymru Fostering are people I will stay in contact with for the rest of my life. They have been huge, huge parts of both our lives.
As a child placed with Calon Cymru, we were taken to the theatre, the cinema, and the summer BBQ’s were always good fun.
If I could give a message to someone who is thinking about becoming a carer, or is a new carer, I would just say to treat the children the same as you would treat your own. Help them to learn what a loving family is. Don’t segregate them from family life.
Our foster parents had their own birth children, too. We call them our aunties and uncles and their children are our cousins. Michelle (Irene’s oldest daughter) would come and look after us instead of us going into respite care, just like a normal family would. They all played a massive role in our lives and never treated us any different.
If you asked me what my fondest memory is, I would immediately think about the family holidays. We are lucky enough to go on the most incredible holidays; to Orlando, Turkey, Spain and UK holiday camps too.
Thanks to our foster family we have the best memories and they have given us the best lives. I don’t feel like I’ve grown up in foster care, because they’re just my family.