The idea of foster caring originally came from my partner, Meg. Our foster care story started in Sydney about five years ago. Plans were put on hold after we found out Meg was pregnant with our first child. Fast forward a few years and we had moved to Queensland, found a new home, new jobs and had a three year old son of our own. Once we were settled in our new home, we started the process to become foster carers.
I had my own personal reasons to foster - my own childhood and my connection with my mother was not great. My mother was never really emotionally available to me. This hit my self-esteem during my childhood and to an extent continued on into adulthood.
What I do remember is two or three people that were part of my life as a child, who showed me love and support. This gave me a glimpse into what relationships could be like and how it felt to be seen and valued.
Currently we are caring for an energetic and smart two year old. He is very different to our own four year child, but it works for us. This little boy is our second placement. Our first experience with foster caring was providing respite for two young siblings. Unfortunately one of the children was petrified of dogs and it was just too traumatic for the child to be near our family pet, so they were no longer able to come for weekend visits.
Our current placement is likely to be with us for a couple of years, with the hope he will return to his own family. It will be difficult to say good-bye. We just need to manage expectations with our own son, and remind him that his dear friend and playmate will be going home to his own family at some stage. My partner and I understand the end goal and are happy to see this little boy reunited with his parents when the time is right.
Things are often different to what you expect them to be, but they are not worse or better, you just need to be flexible with what comes your way. Fostering is a good learning curve for all of us. We have all learnt new skills and grown from the experience. My advice to new carers is to have compassion for yourself as well as for the child in your care. Understand the behaviour of the child may be a result of what they have learned in the past to keep safe, so you need that understanding and compassion to make caring work for you, your family and the child in your care.
Our son and the little boy in our care are great mates. They love playing with the dog and cat, they enjoy trips to the local park, going to the beach and visits to Meg’s parent’s place in the country. Self-care is important too, so both Meg and I enjoy meditation and jogging when we have some time to ourselves.
Having supportive family and friends means a lot. You know there is someone there to help out and also to talk to. Our Case Practitioner at Anglicare Southern Queensland and our Child Safety Officer are also there for us when we need guidance. Our elderly neighbour has many grandkids and also loves having the boys over for visits too. It’s comforting to have all these supports. Our foster care journey is still very new to us, and it is good to know that others are there to lend a hand.