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A family’s foster care story

We are a typical happy and comfortable couple with one fabulous 11-year-old-son.

Our fostering journey actually began some time ago, when I used to talk about fostering to my husband and son. We all knew that we had the room and the means to make a real difference in a child’s life.

One day my son came home from school with a newsletter about fostering through MercyCare. After a few long family discussions, we decided to start our fostering journey. My son thought it would be great to have someone to play with and to have me at home more often.

After completing the Foster Carer Preparation Training, which we found very interesting and helpful, then the Assessment, we were on our way. We decided we only wanted young children, as our first priority would always be the safety of our own child.

I remember getting a phone call from MercyCare asking if we would be interested in taking on a sibling group aged two and four years. I remember feeling all excited and nervous at the same time. We were provided with information about the children and told we didn’t have to say yes if we didn’t feel comfortable in any way. There was absolutely no pressure at all.

So, after a family discussion and saying yes, the children came to our home the following week. After having the children for a few days our fantastic MercyCare Case Worker came out for a visit to see how we were all coping. I remember breaking down into tears and saying that I thought we had made a huge mistake. The problem my husband and myself had wasn’t with the children, it was having our child grow up before our eyes overnight. He was no longer our baby and neither of us expected to feel that. In training you’re told about behaviours that can come with children in care, but we never expected how much of a dramatic change it would make to our family unit.

After deciding to give it a go for a bit longer, we found that it actually was the best thing we ever did. Yes, our son grew up before our eyes overnight, however it has become one of the most positive things that could have happened. We discovered that having an only child we had become extremely over protective and we hadn’t been allowing him to experience things that he may have needed to, out of our fear for his safety.

Over the next nine months, the children became a very strong part of our family and our son loved being the big brother. Family and friends welcomed the children wholeheartedly and with no judgement, only pride for what we were doing. There were times when we were challenged, but with the assistance and support of our MercyCare Case Worker, we worked through these problems.

After nine months the children returned home to their mother. Some people commented that it must have been hard to give them back, however, the three of us found it easy knowing that mum had done what she needed to do to get her children back and home is always the ultimate outcome for everyone concerned.

Our current placement is a sibling group of two, ages two and four years who will be in our care for the next two years with the possibility of remaining with us until they are eighteen years. The four-year-old has come to us with very challenging behaviours, however over the past few months and with a lot of positive encouragement, he has become the most delightful and well-mannered little boy who is a joy to have around. The children have truly changed our lives and the hugs we receive are heart-warming and special.

When people find out what we are doing, they comment on how amazing we must be, but we are just a typical family that just wants to help and make a difference to children’s lives. Throughout the ups and downs none of us regret our decision to become a foster family. We have found fostering extremely rewarding and it has enhanced our family life.