Over 500 children came into care last year and Essex County Council need more foster carers to help vulnerable children feel safe and supported. You could make a real change this year and offer a child a place to call home. 

Here’s how foster carer Sheila from Essex transformed the life of a shaken baby:

Years ago, my husband Paul and I were asked to take in a baby with a brain injury. At the initial discharge meeting, the doctors said his brain had gone into severe trauma, and that because of this, he probably wouldn’t ever walk or talk. 

I was determined that he would do all of these things, because I would do everything possible to help him recover. The doctor reminded me that this was a shaken baby, and in general they do not recover – but I kept optimistic about his future.

Paul’s friend is a physiotherapist, so I asked them what we could do to help the baby. I was told to stimulate him by moving his arms and legs. He was paralysed along his right-hand side, but in time, his right arm and leg began to move slightly when he got excited. 

He was responding – it was amazing.Gazette:

One day, I saw him swinging his legs in the back of the car. I’d never seen him so happy. By this point, he was just weak on his right-hand side. I kept telling everyone that he was going to recover, and that he would learn to walk and talk. 

Miraculously, soon after, he began to crawl. He was slow meeting milestones, but they were there, and he was meeting them. 

At his next appointment, we received the most amazing news. The doctor told us that his brain had repaired – he would be able to develop, grow and have a bright future. He was just over a year old at this point, and we’d protected him from anything that might shake his brain, such as swings and trampolines.

Gazette: Now, he has grown into a young boy who plays a range of different sports, like cricket, football, swimming and badminton. He has even been headhunted to play for a major Essex young sports team. 

He was adopted as a young child, but we are still in touch with him and his family. He has a forever home and the future he deserves. 

I was so inspired by his remarkable recovery and the difference you can make to a child’s life by fostering that I turned it into a book – The Stork Didn’t Bring You. It highlights his incredible journey, and the adoption process, too. 

What makes the book even more precious to me is the fact that it helped him come to terms with the fact that he is adopted. Growing up, he struggled to accept it, but when he found out that the book was written about him, he was so proud – he even agreed for his teacher to read it to the class and share his story.

Gazette: Helping a little boy recover and then accept that he was adopted are two of my biggest achievements. He is a lovely boy, and a high achiever at school. Fostering really does allow you the opportunity to change a vulnerable child’s life. He’s living proof that foster children can be helped to achieve anything.

To find out more about fostering, visit the Essex County Council's fostering page.

For more information about Essex County Council fostering events, visit the events page on their website. Alternatively, call 0800 801 530 for more information.