For Jordie Martin, MercyCare’s fostering program gave her a “family, not just a home”, and opportunities she otherwise would only have dreamed of.
The 19 year old, who embarked on her ninth voyage on the STS Leeuwin II on June 18, said her life would have been very different had it not been for MercyCare’s foster care service and the loving family she had been connected with.
The sailing voyage, on which Jordie is working as volunteer crew, offers young people aged between 14 and 25 with emotional, physical and mental challenges the opportunity to learn to sail Australia’s largest ocean sail training ship.
She is also studying at Edith Cowan University and has enrolled in a media and communications degree.
“I value greatly the life and opportunities that MercyCare has helped me forge, including a wonderful family and the STS Leeuwin II voyages, which have been such amazing experiences,” Jordie said.
Jordie was just seven years old when Tricia and Don Martin opened their home to her in 2005, through MercyCare’s fostering service.
Jordie said she had been through a revolving door of foster home placements, including emergency care since she was a baby.
“I’d been in and out of emergency care from January 1998, from when I was about six months old, because mum suffered from depression so she would book herself into hospital for treatment and I’d go into care,” she said.
“When I was about seven, Tricia and Don took me out on a few ‘play dates’ and one day sat me down and asked if I wanted to live with them full-time. I said ‘yes’ straight away and it was an easy decision because they were such caring people.
“I knew that they wanted to be my mum and dad. We just clicked as a family. It’s been 11 years now.
“MercyCare really wants people to be family, not just a place where you are going to live for a few years until you can leave once you turned 18. MercyCare gave me a family, not just a home.”
Tricia Martin said she would recommend foster caring to other families, saying despite some challenging times the rewards were well worth it.
But she urged prospective carers to ensure they were well supported.
“Jordie was our first and only foster child,” Mrs Martin said. “I have always told her we waited for her. It was meant to be.
“From our experience, MercyCare valued both the parents and the child. They were always there to make sure our lives were on track and our family unit stayed strong. I would recommend that anyone contemplating foster caring engage MercyCare as their support system.
“It takes a village to raise a child and that is exactly what Jordie has had around her. We have been fortunate that the village community that we live and work in has embraced Jordie from the first day she stepped into our lives.
“Our large extended family was supportive and welcoming of Jordie. She was always our daughter, not our foster daughter. They all embraced Jordie like their own granddaughter, sister and niece.”
MercyCare out-of-home care manager Rose Hayden said it took special people to be foster carers.
“Foster parents are ordinary people who can make extraordinary differences to the lives of young people,” Ms Hayden said.
“Foster carers come from all walks of life and play an important role in the lives of children and young people who may have endured difficult childhood experiences and can no longer live with their families.
“MercyCare supports both the child and the foster families to provide a comfortable, stable home in an effort to set young people on a path to a brighter future.
MercyCare Fostering Services has been operating for 26 years and works with young people who are unable to live with their families for a multitude of reasons including family illness, death, abuse, neglect or because families cannot raise children in a safe, caring and stable home.
MercyCare recruits and trains foster parents and works with families and foster children to ensure a suitable match.
Anyone interested in becoming a MercyCare foster carer can call 9442 3444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org