Janette and Glyn's story
"Seeing kids go from a bad place to a good place” is just one of the reasons that has motivated Janette and Glyn Young to foster. They first started fostering 19 years ago soon after moving to Jersey and have since shared their home and cared for around 46 children.
How it all started
Janette’s first experience of foster care started when she was a young girl of around 12. As a daughter of foster carers Janette grew up sharing her parents and her home with numerous children. She recalls memories of a busy household, children coming and going, gaining an adopted sister, and the harder times when her father was so upset when a particular girl had to leave.
Looking back she admits that her childhood experience has influenced her in wanting to become a foster carer, realising the need and the positive impact it has on children, she says, "I was a carer, I had a lot of involvement in the caring, as an adult I just see it as something to do, it’s out there and it’s needed". Interestingly Glyn also had early connections with fostering remembering his grandmother used to foster French children when he was growing up. "I never questioned it as a child, it’s just something that’s there in the background". Both Janette and Glynn had childhoods forged with community values of wanting to help others less fortunate.
Janette and Glyn started fostering when their own children were pre-school age. At that time Janette had decided to stop working in order to care for their children. Being environmentally minded meant that they had no plans for further children and so Janette decided that being at home created the perfect opportunity to foster. A local recruitment campaign was launched that caught Janette’s attention and triggered her to find out more about fostering. “I had a job here in the zoo and then I had children. I couldn’t work at the same time, so there was room for fostering. I knew I wasn’t going back to work, I thought now I can do it, it was the right time".
Family and fostering
Unsurprisingly, Janette and Glyn’s home is always a busy one filled with the usual fanfare that comes with a large family. Regardless of all the challenges, Janette talks about her daily life with a calmness and acceptance, her natural altruistic nature has no doubt contributed to their success in foster care. Although Janette is a full time dedicated foster carer her husband Glyn has always supported her in the role of fostering. They have 3 daughters, Athya 22 years and Mairi 20 years and their younger daughter Salili 13 years, who was adopted after a successful foster placement. Janette is uncomfortable with the term ‘adopted daughter’ as she sees her as a ‘daughter’ equal to the others.
They currently foster 4 children ranging in age from 2 years to 14 years. This includes two long term girls and two short term boys.
When asked if it was ever an issue for her birth children, Janette explained both her daughters embraced fostering with ease and with a natural acceptance. "Everyone is always frightened of the impact on their children, it’s nothing to be scared of, it’s more positive than people think. The comments we have had were always positive, I remember one of Mairi’s teachers saying that if she was an advert for fostering, it could only be good".
"Having the children on board made things easier, they loved fostering because they had live-in playmates. Children connect on their own level, we could say adult things like "come in" and "welcome", but our children would connect instantly and run off and play making the foster children feel at ease. They performed a sort of bridging between the children and adults. I’ve said it many times, my children have done as much fostering as I have, as soon as the child came through the door they would be straight upstairs explaining where they play, how it all works, the routine. Sharing was never a problem and they made sure the children felt at home".
The evidence of strong bonds being made between the children are clear as Glyn explains, one of the children they used to foster has organised a surprise visit to his eldest daughter at University. "She sees her as a sister even though she has her own birth sister. It’s not always like that depending on the age and the amount of time they stay, but there are some children that really bond to the family and become part of the family coming to all the main celebrations".
The rewards and challenges
Although both Janette and Glyn talk positively about fostering, it inevitably comes with some challenges and whilst co-ordinating school runs, nappy changing, and dealing with teenage angst are all part of the package, Janette admits that it’s not always plain sailing. "Time is one of my biggest challenges, sometimes I have to be at two places at the same time, there are a lot of time pressures, especially at the end of the Christmas term when you want to be there for everyone, The children do a lot of after school activities as we think it’s important for them to find their own talents and skills. We work hard to help them find things they enjoy and can immerse themselves in for example, dance, singing, karate etc. This is so important for their self esteem".
Janette agrees that becoming a foster carer requires selflessness and flexibility, whilst sometimes giving a lot without always getting a lot back. It can also be emotionally taxing when a child has to leave. "That’s where the selflessness comes in, you’ve got to hand them back and you have to find ways to cope with that, but it’s for the right reason and you’ve got to know that your pain is someone else’s gain. The reward is part of knowing that you have done your bit. I like making relationships with children. That is a reward; building children’s trust is one of the most rewarding parts of fostering".
Whilst many people in our society are motivated by professional and financial gain, Janette’s motivation comes from a more humble place, "I’m just doing my bit, to give something back, that’s the kind of people we are, you can offer children choices and show them another way of life and relating to others you just hope that they gain something positive from the time they spend with you".
The Young family are unsung heroes in our community who show unconditional acts of kindness to strangers on a daily basis. They are part of a strong and unnoticed community of local foster carers that provide support, love and care to many local children.