BY NAME AND BY NATURE! MR AND MRS FOSTER TAKE IN 186 CHILDREN (AND ARE STILL LOOKING AFTER BABIES IN THEIR 80S)
By Dan Coles
Meet Mr and Mrs Foster – the aptly named couple who have spent 32 years fostering almost 200 children.
William and Jean Foster, 82 and 74, from Burton-on-Trent, Staffs, married in 1982 and have spent the last 34 years of their life selflessly dedicated to fostering children.
The couple have taken in scores of children – some for days, months, or even years – and even adopted one little girl, who is now in her 30s with four children of her own.
And incredibly, even though William is in his 80s, the pair are STILL taking in children – and are currently fostering two babies, aged 10 and 15 months.
Jean said: “It’s not easy and you get extremely difficult cases at times but its such rewarding work, we really love it.
“You make sacrifices, make the children feel welcome and a part of the family, and that’s what its all about.
“We keep in touch with loads of the children we have fostered, they often visit us, and we’ve had a lot of children that have been adopted after us fostering them and they’re doing fantastically well.
“The feeling we get when we see them doing so well is fantastic, it’s the best job the world.
“We thoroughly enjoy what we’re doing, we love children and our reward comes when they come over and leave smiling.
“Holidays are always very busy and Christmas day is always very hectic; we usually take it in turns and have a bunch of different dinners because there’s too many to get around the table at one time.
“I haven’t made Bill dress up as father Christmas yet, all the kids would know it was him anyway.
“There are a lot of people that think once they’re over 50 they’re too old to foster but it’s the best time to do it because you’re grown up and you have all the time in the world to give to the kids.
“Our age doesn’t come into it because we’ve always done it, the children keep us young as we have always filled our house with children because we love what we do.
“Some of them you’ll keep for a few days, some for a few months and in our case some for 30 years.”
The couple, who have 9 children between them, including two that they adopted, also have more than 15 great grandchildren.
Bill added: “My favourite part about all of this is how much I enjoy it, I suppose I love all of it, but we do everything together like change and bath them.
“The only problem is when they go, we’re used to cooking big dinners, so we make all this food and realise there’s nobody to eat it all.”
Bill and Jean first started fostering children in 1983 and have since gathered a count of 186 children who they have fostered for days, months, and in some cases even years.
One of the children they fostered as a baby was supposed to be with them for a weekend but five years later was still with the them so ended up making the move permanent, something that Bill and Jean agreed had to be the case because they had built such a strong relationship with the child in the five years they spent with her.
Jean said: “She had been with us for such a long time that we didn’t want to see her go so we applied to adopt her and was accepted.”
The now mother-of-four, Naomi added: “They’re amazing parents, loving, caring and so fun.
“We had lots of animals and I had lots of fun growing up, I also met so many people throughout my childhood, so many kids to play with as I grew up.
“Foster care is so important, and these two have just been amazing since day one.
“I always come up for family occasions, Christmas is crazy here, the house turns into a grotto.”
The couple say that the job they do has kept them young and even now are currently fostering two toddlers under 1 years old and do not plan on stopping their dream jobs any time soon.
“We’re just so used to the job now and we love seeing the kids, I think it would surprise a lot of people to realise just how rewarding this job can be after such a long time doing it.
“We love the job, and we love being around the kids, so we certainly won’t be hanging up our gloves yet.”