Seeing those first smiles makes Norwich foster mum’s day as she reflects on an almost decade-long career
07:54 28 May 2014
Archant Â© 2014
A Norwich woman who had a miracle baby at the age of 43 has spoken about her almost decade-long career as a foster carer to urge more people to consider doing it.
Tina Smith, of West Earlham, is now 54 and has been a foster carer, along with her husband Ralph, 52, for almost 10 years with Foster Care Associates.
It was a desire to have siblings for birth daughter Rose that steered Mr and Mrs Smith towards fostering and between them they have helped more than 25 vulnerable young people.
Mrs Smith said: “Rose was born when I was 43 and came after years and years of fertility treatment.
“Because I had her late there wasn’t an option for me to have any more children but we wanted her to grow up with siblings. Rose was only two when we started fostering so she has grown up with it and it is all she knows.
“She sees the young people in placement as brothers and sisters.”
Mrs Smith has worked with children in care for more than 30 years and previously worked in children’s homes. She especially enjoys fostering and said the best part for her was “seeing the first smile” from a child in her care.
“It’s a really big thing for me seeing that and gaining their love,” she said.
Mr and Mrs Smith and their daughter Rose, now 10, keep in touch with all the children that have stayed with them.
Rose even created a school project which involved decorating a pillow case with all her “brothers and sisters” names on it.
Rose said: “When we share stories at school about what we have been doing, I always tell everyone about my brothers and sisters and what we have been getting up to.”
Mrs Smith hoped her story would inspire others to get involved with fostering to help meet a shortfall of 650 in the east of England.
• To find out more about fostering, visit the Fostering Network website at www.fostering.net or www.thefca.co.uk or ring 0800 023 4561.
• Do you know someone with an inspirational story to tell? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.