Becoming a foster carer is a life-changing decision and I don’t believe that recruiting foster carers by telling them they could earn up to £500 per week in allowances is the answer.

In fact, this is a subliminal message letting prospective carers know that they could make some extra easy cash by simply giving up their spare room. However, being a foster carer is more than having a spare room in your home. In fact, it takes a lot of hard work and can only work out if you’re committed to putting the effort in.

When I first entered foster care, I wasn’t the success story that you see today. I was the total opposite. I came into the system as a complete mess and all I wanted to do was to take my anger out on another individual I didn’t really believe wanted to help me. Deep down, I was begging for their love, but because I was loving them in the most unloving way, it was difficult to get what my heart really desired and because of this no foster carer wanted me.

You see, many children in the care system have come from the most traumatic backgrounds that others have only witnessed through movies and, because we’ve experienced such mayhem, we’re not used to strangers being kind to us, especially as our own biological parents haven’t been the kindest to us. So if you’re applying to become a foster carer or an adoptive parent please take all of these things into deep thought and consideration.

The majority of my foster carers didn’t want me, and it wasn’t until I got to my 11th placement that everything began to change for me. My heart desired to be loved, to be welcomed, to be nurtured but – most importantly – to be accepted, and I received just that.

I recall having the biggest argument with my foster carer in my bedroom, about why I decided to walk out of my counselling session angrily earlier that day and about why I decided to take the bus home rather than getting in her car. I remember it getting pretty tense. However, as I was on the verge of saying something I probably would have regretted I recall her shouting word for word “the other foster carers may have given up on you, but I sure won’t”.

Hearing this was a huge wake-up call. It was as though someone had fled with the keys to my heart to a destination further than Timbuktu, but had somehow managed to find me to open my heart again. It was one of the BIGGEST moments of my life and one I will hold onto and cherish for the rest of my life.

This blog was written by Keeley, founder of Care Leaver Legacy, an organisation working to empower care experienced young people to achieve their dreams.