HomeLifestyleCouple, 22, who fostered 15-year-old girl have since taken in six more children
Couple, 22, who fostered 15-year-old girl have since taken in six more children
A 25-year-old woman has fostered seven children with her husband including a teenager who they proudly asked to be their bridesmaid.
SallyAnn was just 22 when she welcomed her first foster child into her home – unexpectedly becoming mum to a 15-year-old girl who could have been mistaken for her friend.
The new mother and her then 22-year-old fiance Ryan became so close to their daughter they gave her the special role of bridesmaid at their wedding.
SallyAnn and Ryan, from the west Midlands, said the small age gap meant they formed a close bond.
They went on to foster six more children in three years, as well as having a baby of their own.
Speaking about their first foster daughter SallyAnn, now 25, told The Sun : "Sometimes, I'd take a step back and think this is really bizarre – but it was really nice.
"Having her as our bridesmaid was one of our biggest highs as foster carers."
SallyAnn had always wanted to be a mum and began work as a private nanny after studying healthcare in college.
When she was made redundant, she became a self-employed nanny, working for several foster families.
She said the experience gave her a real insight into how much vulnerable children can benefit from fostering and told Ryan it was something she'd really want to do.
SallyAnn said she didn't see the point of her and Ryan waiting another decade or more to have kids, and wanted them to foster before having children of their own.
After giving Ryan some time to think about it, she said he came back after just a few weeks with the response 'why not?'
The couple became foster carers through Britain's largest fostering and adoption charity, The Adolescent and Children'sTrust (TACT) .
Sally-Ann, who had previously worked in early education , initially thought she would foster a child under seven, but was delighted to welcome a 15-year-old into her family.
"At first, we were a little nervous about what to expect and how the match would work," SallyAnn told Coventry Live.
"Would she respect us as carers, would we get the balance between understanding her and parenting right?
"Fortunately, other than a few minor challenges expected with parenting a teenager, the placement was very successful and she fitted really well into our family.
"We found that people would just assume that she was our family member or a friend, which helped when transporting her to social activities with friends and to school, as she preferred to keep her peers from knowing that she was in foster care."
"We felt so honoured that she agreed to play such a key role on our special day after only living with us for just a few months," SallyAnn added.
She said her foster daughter would tell people at school they were cousins.
She also wouldn't call her 'mum', but SallyAnn said that felt right.
But they socialised with each other – including going to the cinema, on days out and on holidays.
After around two years together, at the age of 17, the girl moved out to live independently, but SallyAnn and Ryan have had a number of other placements since.
They currently have a six-year-old foster son who has been with them since July and who they say gets on wonderfully with their own son, Tommy.