One of the abiding myths surrounding foster care concerns age limits. “Am I too young?” and “Am I too old?” are questions we’ve dealt with many times over the years. The reality is, once you’re over the age of 25 and capable of caring for children, you can foster.
At Orchard Fostering, we’re open to foster carers of all ages. We spoke to our youngest and oldest foster carers about their experiences, and how they feel their age has helped or hindered them on their fostering journey.
Read on to find out more about Gavin and Nuala’s fostering experiences, and their thoughts on how you can enjoy the benefits of fostering – at any age.
It’s all about helping others
Nuala, our oldest carer, is in her early seventies. Gavin, our youngest carer, is in his late twenties. Despite their age gap, their reasons for fostering are similar – they wanted to help others. As Gavin puts it: “We’ve always wanted to give something back. Helping a young person or child was something we were very passionate about doing.”
Nuala “wanted to help young people in some way,” and felt that “fostering would be a nice way to do so.” Both carers come from the same viewpoint, despite their age gap. They are determined to help young people in the most effective way they can – through foster care.
This is perhaps the most important facet for any potential foster carer – the desire to help children in need. No matter your age, if you want to help, you can.
No matter your age, it’s a benefit
“I never felt that [my age] held me back in anyway,” Nuala says, and Gavin agrees. In fact, both Nuala and Gavin feel their age has positively impacted their foster care abilities.
According to Nuala, “the experience of rearing my own family [made me] feel that I am able to help and give guidance to [foster children].” Nuala has used her own familial experiences to inform her foster care, as she taps her wealth of parenting knowledge for the benefit of a new generation of children.
Gavin feels that “my age made me more understanding in regards to the society we have today.” His youth allows him to tap into “challenges a young person could face,” and helps him “to relate and to understand certain aspects” of modern youth.
As we’ve talked about before, connecting with your foster child is important, and your age can be of great benefit here. Gavin and Nuala take their ages – which could be viewed as potential barriers – and turn them into positives, allowing them to engage with their foster children on different levels, and build stronger relationships.
No matter your age, you’re always able to create connections with others. Throughout our lives we continue to build important relationships, and foster care is no different. When asked about their happiest memories of their time in foster care, both Nuala and Gavin spoke about their relationship with the child in their care.
Nuala says she has “many happy memories” of her time as a foster carer. She spoke about one young person in particular who “stands out [as] she has stayed in contact, remembers birthdays and other celebrations.” Gavin is delighted to see “how happy and how much the current young person we have in our care has grown” since they started their journey.
Relationships are important in foster care, and Gavin and Nuala’s happy memories reflect this, showing the deep bonds that can be created in foster care scenarios.
So there you have it – two foster carers with forty-plus years between them, and they’re on the same page about almost everything. It’s not about the years, it’s about you. At Orchard Fostering, we believe that age shouldn’t hold you back from fostering with us. If you recognise some of yourself in Nuala or Gavin, give us a call, or contact us online. We’d love to hear from you – no matter your age!
At Orchard Fostering, we understand that age limits are just one of many misconceptions people can have about fostering. If you have concerns about requirements or want to sense-check something you’ve heard, check out our frequently asked questions section, where we tackle all the big questions you might have about fostering.