Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Barnardos Australia
When talking with Stacey and Sarah a few things become clear. Their open-mindedness, their commitment to children, their nurturing natures and their ability to love unconditionally. Four qualities that make them great foster parents. A same sex couple who have experienced both short term and long-term foster care, they are now caring permanently for their 15 month old daughter.
They shared with us the emotional highs and lows of foster caring:
We decided to foster because we had reached a time in our life when we were thinking about starting a family. We thought about all the different options and obviously the natural options aren't quite as easy for us. We had talked about other options like IVF but we decided that we would give foster care a try. We saw that there was a big need for foster carers, and because of that we felt it was the best option for us to build our family. Since we became foster carers, we’ve fostered a baby that came to us and was restored to its birth family, a baby who lived with us and now lives with his siblings, and now our baby girl who was placed with us at just four days old, who we have just recently adopted.
To be a foster carer, you can’t be judgemental. I think that's so important, to be open minded. And totally committed to helping children. Essentially, you're opening your whole life to a family that you've never met, to a child that will be placed with you with maybe ten minutes’ notice (if you are doing crisis care) with no preparation, and you just have to roll with it. It can be tough, so you have to be committed and you have to be ready to do it.
Before you become a foster carer the idea of having contact with birth families is so scary. You hear things in the media about parents abusing their children and being drunk and addicted to drugs and having big mental health problems. In reality, we have found that working with the birth families has been beautiful. If it wasn't for our baby's parents we wouldn't be mums, we wouldn't have a family. We love them and we tell them that we love them, and we embrace them, we embrace her extended family, and they have embraced us, and they are really important to us. We have their photos in our home, we talk about them often, we will always be inclusive of them. Children don't come in isolation, children come with a family, and we love their family as we love our child.
We get plenty of help from Barnardos. There's professional help, there's carer support help, there's caseworker help, but also your natural networks really come together. When you say that you're going to have a child in your home, all of a sudden everybody is visiting more and offering things, and there's plenty of support. We've been overwhelmed by the support that we've received from Barnardos and from our family and our friends.