Zara's story

She made a difference, she went the extra mile, made me feel safe.

There's nothing more powerful than a person’s story.

Some flit in and out of your life like a feather, but others slap you right square in the face – so much so that it changes how you see things. It wakes your soul. Meeting with Zara was one of those stories for me. Zara experienced care as a child, and she was willing to share her experiences with me.

It's always the resilience that strikes me the most. The ability to muddle on through thoughts and feelings, in a way that shifts understanding to give birth to hope.

"If I were to do an adverse childhood experience test now, I'd hit every mark. It doesn't bear thinking about what my life could have been," Zara commented.

Despite the buzz of the busy cafe, I hung on her every word. It was so real. Every syllable oozed God’s woven mastery. A story of restoration that He wanted to unveil in Zara's life, not just to change hers but to ripple out to the many.

Zara came into care at the age of 13. As my mind tried to catch up to consider how you process something like that, I murmured, 'So what was it like?'

Zara reflected on how it was a positive experience for her. She was enabled to go to school, get her homework done, never feeling judged but instead understood, she noted "The main thing was the consistency, those two years set me up for life. It's not worth thinking where I'd be if it wasn't for my foster carers."

She continued "I was placed with a family for two years. There was a lot of instability within my family home, I was out of school and with all the hurt, acted out. The gravity of it wasn't really appreciated back then, but why would it be? It's only now looking back I can honestly say I have no words to thank them for what they did for me. They gave me safety and consistency when I needed it most. They saw the pain behind my behaviour.

I guess, if you’re a foster carer, you may sometimes question if what you're doing is making a difference. It is. It might not be clear in the here and now, and you may never even know the difference but it is happening. I wasn't the easiest person to live with I know that! But I was just so hurt. But my carers stuck with me, they gave me space when I needed it, I knew when I walked in the door what to expect. That meant everything to me. I know that being a foster carer isn’t easy, but the difference you will make that you might never even be aware of, could far outweigh the difficulties.

And if anyone is thinking about exploring fostering? Do it. Find out more. Just do it!"

Research shows harrowing statistics for young people in care. They are sadly more likely to have mental health issues, be cautioned or convicted of a crime, be excluded from school, and they have a much higher risk of facing homelessness. It’s heartbreaking.

Thankfully, for Zara, things were different. She was able to keep on a positive path and made her way through many challenges. Eventually, this path led Zara to becoming a social worker. Having built such a great relationship with her own throughout the years, “She made a difference, she went the extra mile, made me feel safe. That was so important to me during that time."

She explains the journey to her own career, "It certainly wasn't straight forward, with the instability of my family home, school was the last thing on my mind and I hardly went! I had no qualifications to my name and no confidence in my academic ability. So the idea of studying at Queens University seems beyond far-fetched. But I believe God had a plan. At the age of 22 I met with God and he began to build this desire in me and I just knew I had to do it. It was hard work though! I had to go back to my GCSEs and A Levels before I was accepted. And that's not even dealing with the emotions of my own story! As I dug deep into the hurt, I did so with God. As I met with pain, He brought healing."

Zara had to overcome self-doubt and stigma too. "I think that it can be the same with so many care leavers! There's such shame attached and living under it can be so heavy and debilitating. I had support to work through this and now I own my story. Seeing how much God looked after me and has brought freedom to my life makes my so thankful. And, I believe, if God did this for me, He can do it for you too."

Now Zara gets to lavish love and care onto young people who live in a specialised care home where she works. There is no better job for Zara to be in, right? The full circle of restoration was symbolic. Repeatedly Zara would catch my eye proclaiming "Don't let your circumstances define who you are!"

Zara talks about how her carers stepped in at just the point when she needed it most. “I just needed stability and safety. They made such a difference to my life. It’s honestly not worth thinking about where I’d be without my foster carers.”

Her words struck me again. Imagine if there was someone to step in for every child when they needed it the most? I left our wonderful conversation thinking about this constantly.

There is such a need, if we tried to really grasp it, honestly, it would overwhelm us, it would mess us up – it would be a complete inconvenience to our lives. If only we saw the faces behind the statistics. If only we asked ourselves, could I?

Could I make room at the table for another? Could I live with my door open? If only we understood the difference that we could make.

Author:
Written for Home for Good by Julie Burgess


Tags:
Stories


Share:


Related pages

Foster carers, we see you...

Foster carers, we see you...

Our thank you to all the selfless and wonderful foster carers who go above and beyond to love the children in their care.

Read more
Thoughts of a foster carer: Placement disruption

Thoughts of a foster carer: Placement disruption

A friend of Home for Good shares honestly and with great courage about the pain and challenge of placement disruption.

Read more
Putting God's love into action: Katie and Stuart's story

Putting God's love into action: Katie and Stuart's story

Katie and Stuart share how God led them to fostering.

Read more

You might also be interested in

Jenna's story

Stories

Jenna's story

I was certain that my future family was to be made up of both biological and adopted children.

Read more
Sarah and Jeremy's story

Stories

Sarah and Jeremy's story

Sarah and Jeremy had their house altered, giving them space to foster.

Read more
Kendra's story

Stories

Kendra's story

Kendra shares her story of being a single foster carer

Read more
Marie's Story

Stories

Marie's Story

They needed more short-term carers for teenagers, this is where my life would change forever.

Read more

Connect locally

I would like to find out what is
going on in my area

Connect Locally

Keep up-to-date

I would like to stay up-to-date with Home for Good's news and how
I can give, pray and get involved to help vulnerable children.

Home for Good will never pass on your details to third parties for marketing purposes and you can unsubscribe from our communications at anytime by emailing [email protected].

reCAPTCHA helps prevent automated form spam.