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Liverpool Echo

Foster couple 'heartbroken' as every child leaves but 'wouldn't change a moment'

A foster couple who have welcomed children into their home for the past 15 years said "it's the most rewarding job in the world".

Clare and Mike Pace have taken children aged from just a few months up to 13 years into their loving home for varying periods of time. The couple have had such a positive effect on the children's lives they've fostered they've stayed in contact with them all with Mike even being asked to be a godfather to one.

Clare said the couple first became foster carers in 2006 after her mum-in-law went into residential care. She had been looking after her mum-in-law after she was diagnosed with dementia but felt "there was a missing piece" in her life when she went into care.

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Clare said: “A friend suggested I became a foster carer - at first I thought, ‘I don’t think they’d want me, am I clever enough?’ But really I shouldn’t have doubted myself, Mike and I had five grown-up children between us, so we had plenty of experience. In 2007, we decided to go for it and give it a try."

The couple first fostered a 12-year-old girl before quickly looking after their first new born, who stayed with them for 18-months. Clare said they were "heartbroken" when the baby left them.

She added: "When that little one left us to go to their adoptive parents, we were heartbroken - it happens when each of them leave, but that first one was the hardest. Luckily for us, Mike was asked to be godfather, so we have continued to be part of that little tot’s life - well now, of course, they're not so little anymore."

The couple said they get regularly updates and pictures from all the children they've fostered. One adoptive dad even told them "they'll always know you were part of their lives".

Mike and Clare have made such a positive impression on so many children's lives - but perhaps none more so than foster son Eddie, not his real name, who has lived with them for the past 13 years. Eddie, the youngest of two siblings, was kept with his brother at the couple's home.

Clare said: "We think keeping siblings together is important, there are so many positives for having your own brothers or sisters around when you're growing up. Eddie was the youngest boy and he’s now 18 and just about to start college.

"He’s also just decided it’s time for him to move out and start living independently. When he came to tell us, it was very moving, he explained that - “I need to move on because I think someone else needs to have a turn with all the happiness and love you’ve given to me.”

Eddie has helped bring up all his 'brothers' and 'sisters' who have shared the house, with Clare called him a "very caring big brother". At the moment the foster family are looking after Doris, not her real name, an 11-month-old "angel".

Clare said: "She's a smiley happy little soul, sleeps through the night and eats anything that I make for her – even pureed sprouts! You couldn’t ask for a more content baby.

"We’ve just taken her on a short trip – we added a couple of postcards to her memory box, a special collection of different items from her life, designed to keep an informal personal record of childhood for kids in care. We usually add their first baby grow, maybe their first dummy, birthday cards, train tickets and lots of photos which we make into albums. We usually do double prints so the parents can have a copy too."

Clare and Mike have said the process of fostering can seem overwhelming but they've received support from Fostering Solutions North West who have been with them every step of the way. Clare has appealed for more people to start the fostering journey and help take children into their home.

She said: “It’s always tough saying goodbye to the little ones, but you always know that you have done right by them, given them love and support when they needed it most, and helped them at the start of their journey through life. It’s the most rewarding job in the world and we wouldn’t change a single moment.”