Debbie Pike has been fostering for more than 10 years, and this Mother’s Day she wants to educate more people about fostering in the hope that others will consider stepping forward to change a child’s life.
Alongside husband Nick, Debbie is currently caring for two young people, both in their teens, who have been in the couple’s care for more than 10 years.
The couple’s own children fled the nest, Debbie sold her business, and they decided to start fostering with the help of a little bit of encouragement from two friends who were already foster parents.
One of the young people Debbie cares for, Ellie, is now 18. Debbie said: “I genuinely believe in ‘nurture over nature’. It’s completely true in Ellie’s case. You can make all the difference in their outlook on life.”
Debbie and Nick have been supported every step of the way on her fostering journey, and her foster children really are now just like her own.
Debbie said: “My birth daughter has always accepted Ellie and her brother as siblings. Even though there’s a massive age gap – because my daughter’s forty this year – she thinks of Ellie as her little sister. She never refers to her as her ‘foster sister’ – it’s always ‘my sister’.”
One of the things that Debbie has noticed is that although there are similarities to raising her own children, fostering has presented different challenges due to the history of the children she cares for.
Debbie said: “I’m quite protective and I’ve been called a lioness because I will fight for my children. It was obviously different in the beginning because I knew my children from birth and I knew what they’d been through.”
Debbie acknowledges that fostering doesn’t come without its difficulties, but she fully believes that ‘nurture over nature’ can transform the lives of vulnerable children and young people.
She said: “I could sit and cry for both of them having learnt about what they have been through, and sometimes I do.”
“I feel so privileged that they have been able to open up and disclose some of the things that they went through.”
Debbie believes there is work to be done in educating people about what foster care involves and how rewarding it can be, she said: “Campaigns like the John Lewis Christmas one which really celebrate foster care are just wonderful. We need more people to welcome these vulnerable children and young people into their homes.”
“Since we started fostering all those years ago, while there can be difficult days, we honestly haven’t looked back since.”
If you would like to find out more about Orange Grove Foster Care or how to become a foster parent, visit the website here.