Retired Lancashire couple in their 60s given 'new lease of life' as foster carers

Brian, 69, and Jean, 62, have welcomed nine children into their home over the past 12 years (Credit: Barnardo's)Brian, 69, and Jean, 62, have welcomed nine children into their home over the past 12 years (Credit: Barnardo's)
Brian, 69, and Jean, 62, have welcomed nine children into their home over the past 12 years (Credit: Barnardo's) | Barnardo's
A retired Lancashire couple in their 60s say they believe fostering has added "ten years onto [their] lives."

Brian, 69, and Jean Adams, 62, from Thornton-Cleveleys, are foster carers with Barnardo's and have welcomed nine children into their home over the past 12 years. 

They are helping the children's charity to dispel myths about fostering and are encouraging others to consider the role, whatever their age. 

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When the married couple were busy running a successful hotel in Blackpool 30 years ago, they never imagined spending their retirement years being 'mum and dad' for an entirely new family. 

But the couple couldn't be happier they made the decision to foster.

Brian, 69, and Jean, 62, have welcomed nine children into their home over the past 12 years (Credit: Barnardo's)Brian, 69, and Jean, 62, have welcomed nine children into their home over the past 12 years (Credit: Barnardo's)
Brian, 69, and Jean, 62, have welcomed nine children into their home over the past 12 years (Credit: Barnardo's) | Barnardo's

Brian said: "I believe fostering has added ten years onto our lives.

"We don’t have time to take our foot off the gas.

"Because of fostering, I’m more passionate and enthusiastic about life than I've ever been."

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Jean added: "Age is just a number and I wish we’d started fostering earlier in life.

"People say to us, 'I couldn’t do what you do' – but why not?

"They've dealt with everything life has thrown at them so far, and people need to believe in themselves."

The couple began their fostering journey with Barnardo's when their birth son, who has always been supportive, was 14 years old.

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They know that sometimes, the children they care for may not have had the easiest start in life and it can take time to build trust.   

But the couple say the most rewarding part of their foster care journey has been seeing children thrive and step out of their comfort zones.

They remember one child particularly fondly.

"He loved to sing and won a role in the school musical," they said.

"We were sat on the front row both nights. He was incredible. I don't know who was crying more – us, or the teachers!"

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Barnardo's is sharing Brian and Jean's experiences as the charity launches a campaign to recruit new foster carers in the North West.

However, research commissioned by the charity has revealed that its efforts to recruit new people are being hampered by a number of pre-conceived notions about what it takes to become a foster carer.  

 A YouGov poll carried out for Barnardo's reveals that almost half of respondents (46%) who haven't considered fostering in the North West, believe they are too old to become a foster carer, even though there is no upper age limit on becoming one.  

 The poll also revealed that nearly three quarters of adults (74%) in the North West are worried there aren't enough foster carers to give children safe and loving homes – but only 4% of respondents in the region would consider fostering a child in the next five years, according to the new data.  

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 Brenda Farrell, Director of Fostering at Barnardo's said: "We know there are people across this region who would love to foster, but believe things like their age, financial situation, or because they have biological children, would prevent them from doing so.  

"We want to bust these myths, as we believe that any loving person can make a wonderful foster carer.

"There is no upper age limit and fostering can be a hugely beneficial experience for the entire family, including birth children.

"At Barnardo’s we offer support and training every step of the way.”  

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 The number of children in care across England is at a record high, with more than 83,000 children and young people needing a safe home, but despite this, there are fewer and fewer people willing to foster.   

 Foster carer Jean says: "I'm learning all the time from the children and although we’ve decided to do this long-term, if you're considering being a foster carer, there are lots of other options like short-term foster care, short breaks and emergency fostering.   

"Anyone can foster a child. It's OK to have questions and worries because there's always someone at Barnardo's who will listen to you.

"Brian and I are just normal people helping a few children find their way. I say if you’re still fit and healthy, what are you waiting for?"

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Brian added: "You have a chance to change these children's lives.

"There are lots of very important roles in society, but we have found that for us, there is nothing more rewarding than helping a child, giving them opportunities, and to help them to reach their full potential."

As part of Barnardo’s annual Fostering Focus campaign, Brian and Jean are encouraging anyone who has ever considered fostering to get in touch with Barnardo's.

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