When Debbie Harris’ children flew the nest, she decided she had the space, time and love available to help one of Doncaster’s children who couldn’t live at home.
While some friends and family thought she was mad to give up her new-found freedom to do what she wanted in life, she doggedly pursued the idea and, last month, opened her heart and her home to a 14-year-old girl.
Although it’s still early days, the divorcee says she hasn’t looked back or regretted her decision – and that is, she says, thanks to the excellent support she has received from the Doncaster Children’s Services Trust throughout the placement process.
Debbie is part of the Mockingbird Family Model scheme, so is one of ten foster families who make up a constellation, led and supported by hub carer Janice Jinks.
That’s not to say that Debbie did not have a few doubts the day her teenager arrived. “I sat at the kitchen table wondering what on earth I’d done,” said Debbie. “But my social worker, who had supported me through the placement process, sat with me and we chatted everything through and then I felt fine.”
It was that well-documented support that led Debbie to go with the Trust. “I did lots of research first and discovered that the main reason that placements broke down was because carers had not gone with the right fostering agency. The Trust was the right match for me,” she said.
“I love being part of Mockingbird and the support that brings. I am really looking forward to meeting the other families in the scheme. Janice has already been really, really, supportive.”
Even in a short space of time, Debbie knows she’s made the right decision, despite others’ scepticism about it.
“it’s hard to put into words. It’s the little things like my foster teenager saying she feels at home here that really make it worthwhile. I feel like I’m helping – and it’s a two-way thing because it’s helping me to feel fulfilled too.”