Explore our inspiring foster stories below

By making the decision to open their homes and hearts to young people in need, foster carers have the power to change the life of a vulnerable young person forever

The need for a safe and supportive family environment

Each year, hundreds of children enter Ireland’s social care system. And while their stories are all different, they each have one thing in common – and that’s the need for a safe and supportive family environment.

At Orchard Fostering we see how foster carers do extraordinary things for their families. Their patience and generosity help inspire positive change in children who have sometimes endured unthinkable hardship, giving them the nurturing environment they need.

foster carers foster children young people stories case studies

Putting aside age, beliefs and cultural differences, our community of dedicated foster families take time out of life to care for those in need, and we’re proud to stand beside them through the good and the bad.

From first steps and challenges to bonding and breakthroughs, fostering is always full of surprises – and that’s what makes it so rewarding.

Whether you’re thinking of becoming a foster carer, or if you are in the early stages of your journey, or you are already foster; our stories offer valuable insight into what it takes to be a foster carer.

Each account offers an intimate glimpse into the ups and downs of fostering and highlights the positive impact it can have on both vulnerable young people and their carers.

Explore our inspiring foster stories below

Michelle’s story

fostering case study michelle

My name is Michelle. I am a foster carer to two female siblings, one aged nine and one aged four. I foster with my husband and three children, the youngest now is 13 years old.

Since we began fostering we have had these two little girls in our care. They came to us whilst in emergency care. We met them in their emergency placement and they then moved in with us a few weeks later. Both have very different characters. The nine-year-old is a lovely really happy-go-lucky and very resilient child. She had a challenging relationship with her birth mother and so initially we had to show her a different way of growing up and being parented. Initially she did resist against this but it is showing its rewards at this stage.

The other little girl has a lot of medical problems. In the beginning there were a lot of medical appointments and learning to understand her syndrome. We had to work with various consultants, psychologists and social workers involved in her life. She came to us just barely three and to see how much she has come on since then is amazing.

We were under the impression she would always be a child who would be vulnerable and may not reach her milestones that a normal four-year-old might meet. She has actually surpassed herself! She has no learning difficulties and to see how well she has come on and how happy she is by being given a secure family background…. It breaks your heart to just see how happy she is in her own little world and how well she is doing.

To see our foster children having similar days that my own children would have had and the joy they get out of it is the reward. It’s the little things like that, that they’re not treated any differently than my own children. They’re getting the same love, care and opportunities and hobbies that they want to try out and do; they just love it. We’re delighted that they may remain in our care long term.

One challenge that was greater than I thought was my own children adapting to fostering. Although I left fostering until they were a bit older, there is an impact for your own children, but it depends on their personalities. My eldest who is 20 must now accommodate two other younger children that she never had to think about before. But to see her caring for them is really good. They make such an impact too. It’s their journey as well but they’re happy to foster these two children. To even see my son give up the role of being the youngest in the family happily, because he wants these two children to be a part of this family, is lovely to see.

These two girls may be remaining with us until they are 18 years old. We’re delighted! They’re just such a part of our lives and are like two of our own children.

Ahmed’s story

My name is Ahmed. I am 24 years old and I am from Niger in Africa.

Growing up I didn’t know my mother, she and my sister passed away during childbirth. I was about seven years old then when I lost my father; after this I lived with my uncle. We worked together for a man for many years. My uncle too later passed away when I was around 12 years old. I was getting abused in Niger by those around me. I was sleeping in the shop in which I worked. Life was tough and there were problems.

One day I told the man I worked for I wanted to go to Libya. He agreed to help me. This man was like a father figure to me as I had no one. He got in touch with some people and brought me to one African country; I didn’t know which one. I didn’t go to Libya as there was an uprising and this man advised against it. From this other country contact was made with another person who then brought me to Ireland. I didn’t know who these people were. It was when I arrived that I applied for asylum. I was 17 years old.

When I moved into my foster carer’s house it was excellent straight away. I stayed with my foster family for two years before moving on. My foster mother has been a pillar to me, supporting me throughout my time here and even to date. She is like my mother. Even now, she applies for jobs for me and encourages me to go for interviews. I live elsewhere but speak weekly and have overnight visits often with her. If I don’t ring her, she will ring me asking how I am. Where I’m coming from being alone, when I look back on my time with her, that is what motivates me to keep going, it was a great experience. Almost all the young people that have been with my foster carer always describe her like a mother.

I live with other people renting and work as a security guard in DCU for the past year. My strength probably came from having nothing to lose. When you have no one…no family, brother or sisters, I thought what else have I to lose?

The minute I was asked to share my story by my foster mother, I said I’d do it straight away. If it’s for Orchard Fostering, I’d do something every day for them as they helped my foster carer who helped me. I was always told by my foster mother that they were supporting us. I know the challenges that they (young people in foster care) still face to date. They don’t have anybody. If there’s anything I ever need, my foster carer still helps me.

Fostering is very very important. Most of the young kids don’t see the bigger picture outside this. I told the kids don’t rush yourself….look where I have everything. I have a job, a house and a say. But I still come to my foster carer and she still helps. I know if I need support, she is still there for me.

Mary-Claire’s story

fostering case study example

My name is Mary-Claire and I foster with my husband and my biological and adopted children.

We have been fostering for six years. My first placement was with a 17-year-old girl. When we first received her information, it read that she had learning disabilities, epilepsy and about 3% vision. We were really nervous about taking her as we didn’t know if we had the skill set to meet her needs at all. However, we decided to proceed as she needed a home.

When she first arrived, she was full of life. She told me immediately what she needed me to do for her to enable her to be independent. She used to sing and dance all day, from morning till night. All the furniture had to be moved back because she had her dance routines to do. She used to tell us that she could speak in American and Australian accents.

She’d sing Kylie Minogue in a fantastic Australian accent. She was absolutely priceless!

A big challenge for this young lady was she always had to be linked by somebody. She always had to have a visual aid with her and she really didn’t like this. One day we asked her what she’d really like to do. She told us she’d like to run. Thereafter we used to go to the forest or the playing fields.

This young girl would drop the white stick and she would run….she ran like a three-year-old and the freedom for her was just huge! It taught us that often what we view as small things mean so much for them; this is something this girl really taught us all.

My children especially learned so much from her and they looked at disabilities in a completely different way. She was an incredible kid.

She moved on whilst waiting for a place in a supported living facility. This was what she really wanted. She wanted to be in her own little apartment with three other people and to be well supported. When she left us after two months she was absolutely delighted about her new home.

When thinking back about why we decided to care for a child with so many medical needs, for us the decision came down to the fact that she’d been in care since she was nine years old. Although there were a few behaviours there was nothing we couldn’t try and respond to.

Her medical needs probably worried me the most such as how would I manage her epilepsy and how her limited vision would affect her getting around the house and up and down our stairs. However instead, she actually showed us exactly what we needed to do for her. For example, how to lay out the house for her to walk independently, even how she liked her food on her plate. She told us where she liked her meat and veggies went, she’d work away on it herself; she was an incredible girl.

Debbie’s story

middloe age foster mum story

I am 53 years old. I’ve been fostering for six years and I am a single parent to four biological children.

I decided to foster as my best friend fostered and adopted for years so my children were very used to this and asked would I foster too; so I did when my own children were old enough.

I initially got a little girl placed with me and my family in an emergency situation. My whole intention was to foster one child and one child only as I had four of my own; but the little girl got to stay with us. She was only with us about eight months when we got a call about another little boy. He was eight years old; something I didn’t expect to happen in our lives. However, his story touched my heart. This little boy was a stand-alone boy with nobody in the world. I could not have that for any little boy or girl. We decided to give it a try. I knew by giving it a try this boy was going nowhere – I wasn’t going to let him down as well.

Then of course shortly after we heard this, the little girl’s mother was pregnant and asked could we take the baby. At this stage I was 48 with six children so I called a meeting with my four older biological children and discussed it. Two of my children were for it and two were against it. The two against were more concerned about the impact it would have on me having three young children. We finally decided we’d try it for six months yet were realistic that this may not be a long term arrangement for the little boy. But the little boy came in and he was such an easy baby. He’s still with us today four and a half years later.

The biggest adjustment for us as a family was always wondering whether the kids were going back. There were stressful and chaotic days, but you just go with the flow of the day and you try get through it as best as you can. For me I switch on music and we dance in the kitchen; regardless of what we are doing. I find everyone then calms and becomes happier thereafter, forgetting what they were worried or unhappy about.

You’re always trying to hold back loving these kids, but you just can’t no matter how hard you try. You are always worrying will they leave you. As soon as we got word that no one was leaving that was the best thing for us. We just got on with being a family. We go with the trials and tribulations; the happiness and the sad times, just like any family.

Being a single foster carer, I wouldn’t have been able to do it only for my extended family. You need support. I would have been fine with one foster chid but when the next lot came along my extended family have been very supportive. Unless you have that network, it would be very difficult. I’ve two older daughters that are mothers themselves, so everybody minds everybody.

I’m absolutely delighted they’re staying long term. I have to say you can love children all the same. I love the foster children the same as my own children, the only difference is I didn’t give birth to them. All my own children now cannot imagine not having these children in our lives. We all believe it was meant to happen this way.

You don’t plan your life sometimes and we went from a family of four to seven and we wouldn’t part with any of us and that means any of us. We are the lucky seven!

Andy & Edel’s story

young couple foster parents case study

We are aged 35 and have been fostering for 12 years. We are supported lodgings carers who foster children from the age of 16 up.

We’ve had many children in our home throughout the years although there was one girl that really made a lasting impression on us.
This girl was going on 16 years old and originally from South Africa. She was born there. Her mother then moved to London to work and she was raised by her grandmother until she came to reunite with her mother aged 16.

Upon arriving in Ireland, she was unable to fly to England as she had to seek asylum. Her mother returned to England whilst support was being given to this young girl.

When first placed with us, she had limited English. She was in second year in school. For a while we had to use google translate for her however she did teach herself English. She was quite a bubbly girl; although initially she didn’t really mix well with others, when we got her into a few activities such as tennis, jogging and youth clubs she came out of herself more. She usually spent her life going to school, youth clubs and studying.

Two years later she was being reunited with her mother. She had many visits from her mother in Ireland throughout the intervening two years to build a relationship given she was never raised with her. She also had two half siblings and a step father living in England. Aside from a new family she was moving to a new country again therefore had many adjustments to make. This was a big challenge for her but we reassured her about it all.

She wanted to stay for our wedding before moving over which she did. She said she wanted to give us a gift. It was beautiful as her gift to us was singing at our wedding and doing a reading. She was all excited about getting to buy a dress and be a part of the day. She had an amazing voice therefore this was a great gift to us.

This girl moved to London shortly after this. We then flew over to her to visit the following year…that was really good. We brought her to the Hard Rock Café and met her for a few hours. It was great. She told us she was in school as her mother had no money to send her to college; she was also working part time in a dentist.

When the lady she worked for asked about her and heard her story, she agreed to pay for this girl’s third level education in exchange for working part time.

This girl is now in third year doing a pharmaceutical degree. She’s doing really well. We saw her last year when she came to Ireland to meet our two sons whom she had never met. She even brought presents for them and to this day we still keep in contact.

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Call our team on 01-627 5713 or request a call back using the contact form on this page. We’re happy to answer all your questions about becoming a foster carer, so do get in touch to find out everything you need to know.

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