“I am profoundly Deaf and have noticed a real lack of deaf and/or signing foster carers for deaf children in care…”
NATHAN lives in Manchester and has been a Foster Carer with FCC since 2018. He teaches British Sign Language and is profoundly Deaf. In his role as a teacher he sees the real need for carers with the skills to communicate with deaf children.
During my career as a teacher of the deaf, I’ve always found that I had a natural affinity for children and teenagers, especially those with emotional and behavioural difficulties. I was usually the go-to person for them when they needed someone to listen to them. To that end, I became interested in fostering. I wanted to give more of a lasting impression to children whilst at home too, not just in school time.
What motivates you to foster?
I am profoundly deaf too and have noticed a lack of deaf and/or signing foster carers for deaf children. Most of the breakdowns and emotional crises I’ve encountered from deaf pupils at school can usually be attributed to a lack of suitable communication and language enrichment at home. Although most deaf people can speak and lip-read to certain varying degrees, British Sign Language is still the easiest language for some of us to express ourselves fully without any stumbling blocks.
So I got approved as a foster carer and about three months later, a deaf and autistic teenager was placed with me. My foster son has now been with me for just over a year and it has been wonderful to watch him develop over those 12 months. He came to me as an anxious and awkward person who wouldn’t even look me in the eye. Now he has blossomed into a more confident and sociable young man. Soon he will be starting college and has a vision of becoming a handyman in the future. He’s already decorated my bedroom as well as doing some DIY jobs around the house for a modest fee!
I am fortunate in the fact that we have been able to maintain good relations with his birth family. This has been invaluable to his self-esteem. He can feel like he belongs to both his birth and extended families. I now have him living with me on a long-term basis. The next step I feel is the ‘staying put’ option. This means he can remain with me until he feels ready to start his adult life. I am aiming to move to a bigger house with one more bedroom so that I can extend my foster family by another one soon. I want to be able to help more deaf and signing children in the future.
What’s it like being a single foster carer?
I feel extremely glad in deciding to become a foster carer. Being single, I thought that would be an obstacle in the fostering process but in fact, I think it does have its advantages. There is only one set of rules in my household which is considerably easier for an autistic child to follow! I am really looking forward to welcoming more looked-after children into my home in the future.