Emma Finch’s uplifting story about fostering.
When Kim David Jones and his wife Caron welcomed Daniel into their lives, they couldn’t have foreseen the joy the ten year-old autistic boy would bring them, and that his younger brother, also autistic, would join their family too. The key to unlocking both boys was their love of football.
After thirty years working as an engineer, Kim was ready for a change. He had long considered becoming a foster carer, so he and his wife applied online and embarked on a life-changing journey. Six months later, following an assessment and training from the National Fostering Group, Kim and Caron welcomed Daniel into their family.
When Daniel first joined them, he struggled to make eye contact, barely spoke and he was unable to look after himself. He had experienced a traumatic childhood, being separated from his parents and five siblings and then placed in a care setting inappropriate for his needs. Frequent moves and high levels of anxiety impacted his behaviour, however, In the nurturing home of Kim and Caron he soon settled. It was not long too before Kim discovered some common ground—football—would be the key to unlocking Daniel. Kim was a life-long supporter of Liverpool FC, and Daniel a supporter of Manchester United—it was this shared interest that united them and helped them to develop a strong bond.
With a diagnosis of possible Autism Spectrum Disorder, Daniel was enrolled into a school with a Special Teaching Facility (STF), that successfully met his needs and he left school with all of his expected grades, going on to study at college.
The story doesn’t end there. At fourteen, Daniel asked Kim if his twelve year-old brother Riley could join them. Like Daniel, Riley had been placed in a setting inappropriate for his needs and it was not long before the two brothers were reunited.
Riley, like his brother, suffered from extremely low self-esteem and struggled to look after himself, but he too began to flourish with his foster carers. Sport again proved to be the key to unlocking Riley, an athletic boy with a competitive edge and a love of the outdoors. Riley joined the same school STF unit as his brother. During a visit by the Wales disability coach, he was selected to join the Welsh Disability Cricket team where his talent shone through so much so that during a disability match in Port Talbot, he was spotted by the ‘mainstream’ Under 17s coach for the town cricket team. He was invited to join and that year the Under 17s team won the league and cup double. To say Kim and Caron were proud is an understatement.
“We all need someone to believe in us,” said Kim, “someone who says, you can do it and we’ll stick by you. Riley lacked confidence, but he has proved to himself that he is as good as anyone else, if not better. Both our boys don’t want to be different; they don’t want to be labelled, they just want to fit in.
“If you have ever considered fostering, please make that call. Like me, you won’t know if it’s for you until you try it. You’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain. Becoming a foster carer is so rewarding—Caron and I give but receive so much more watching our foster children succeed—it is the best thing we’ve ever done. If you can help by fostering just one child, you will be making a difference. There are thousands more waiting for a loving, nurturing home.”