Dana's story (part 2)

How Dana made a huge impact on her foster child’s life 

 March 4 to March 11 is LGBTQ+ Adoption and Fostering Week, a campaign organised by New Family Social to encourage more LGBTQ+ people to adopt or foster. This is the second part of a two-part article looking at Dana’s* journey to becoming a foster carer.  

Dana has been a foster carer for a teenage girl for over three years, and her foster child has gone from being too shy to ask for water, to advocating for herself and growing leaps and bounds in confidence.  

Dana said: “When she came to us, she wasn’t taking care of her basic needs. She wouldn’t even ask for a glass of water. We would keep water bottles in her bedroom just so if she wanted water, she could have some. If she didn’t have to speak, she wouldn’t. Her hair was in her face, her hood was up, it was heavy for a long time.”

Dana says that in the three and a half years since then, it’s been like one breakthrough after another. She said: “One night my partner and I were watching TV, and our foster daughter came downstairs on her own, went into the kitchen, went to the tap, and filled her water bottle up with water and went back upstairs. My partner and I just looked at each other in complete and utter shock, and the two of us started crying. It sounds like a silly thing, but this is a child that has never even asked for a glass of water.”

Dana describes her foster child as someone who would have to be prompted to do everything and would never express her own wants or needs.  

She said: “This was the first time we felt she was starting to take care of her own needs. At this stage of the placement, she had been with us eight months, and not once had she ever asked for anything. It was a big deal because to us she felt safe here.”

From the outside looking in, people tend to think of the big moments in fostering, for example when a child goes off to university, when they go off into independent living, or when they’re reunited with their birth family. But what Dana so powerfully stated is that foster care is a long series of very tiny victories.

She said: “In the 3 and a half years she’s been with us, we’ve had hundreds of these moments. For a child in care, sometimes these small moments are huge moments, and that’s what it’s about, a series of small ‘huge’ moments.”

She encourages anyone considering fostering to just go for it. She said: “There’s more than one way to have a family. Our foster child is part of our family. She has a new extended family now. She has two grandmothers and a grandfather. We’ve been able to provide her with a family.  

“It’s incredibly rewarding. Being LGBTQ+ doesn’t stop you from being a good parent. It sounds cliché but it’s honestly the best thing I’ve ever done.”  

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*We have changed the foster carer’s name in this case study to protect her identity.