Nathan has been a foster carer for The Foster Care Co-operative since 2018, and lives in Manchester. He is a teacher of British Sign Language, and is profoundly deaf himself.
“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 and wanted to give more of a lasting impression whilst at home too, not just in school time.
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 still remains 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. He has now been with me for just over a year and it has been wonderful to watch him develop over one year. He came to me as an anxious and awkward person who wouldn’t even look me in the eye and now he has blossomed into a more confident and sociable young man. He is expecting to start college soon and has a vision of becoming a handyman in the future. He has 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 as he can feel like he belongs to both his birth and extended families. He is now with me on a long-term basis and I am looking into ‘staying put’ so that he can remain 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 one soon. I want to be able to help more deaf and signing children in the future.
I feel extremely glad in deciding to become a foster carer. I thought that being single 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.“