Growing your family, growing your heart

Posted on 28 June 2019
Category Carer stories

Caring for kids was always a part of our plan – but no plan can prepare you for the unimaginable joy, challenge and reward of becoming a carer.

My husband had insight into the out-of-home care system through his work in human services. It was his experiences there that opened our eyes and challenged our hearts. Once we’d seen the reality of children removed from unsafe homes – with no one to turn to and nowhere to go – we knew we had to step up and step in for these kids in crisis. As a young married couple, we made a plan: When our biological children were old enough, we’d open our doors – and our hearts – to children in out-of-home care.

We started the process when our youngest was seven years old; completing the training, moving into a bigger house and even buying a bigger car! Our first year was relatively simple – we were respite carers, welcoming children for weekends or short breaks. We enjoyed having our ‘special guests’ come over and our family adapted well.

After 10 months, we were asked to open our lives even more by becoming long-term carers for a group of four siblings. With three biological children already, this was a whole new world for our family. We’ve had phenomenal support from our community and extended family – our church even put together a meal roster to get us through those first few months – but it’s been a huge adjustment!

The challenges of out-of-home care are very real – the system isn’t always simple and the emotional burden is rarely light. But, while there have been struggles, the joy we’ve discovered in expanding our family is immeasurable.

My husband and I have discovered new levels of love and strength in our lives, learning more about resilience and empathy than we ever thought possible. Our biological children have stepped up beyond expectation too. They quickly learned that their lives had been protected and safe, and not all children get to experience that. Through sharing their parents, their belongings and their home, they became compassionate and caring mentors to their new siblings. It is my greatest joy to see their hearts expand along with our family.

The last few years with our family of nine have been filled with priceless reward. We’ve had the privilege of seeing these kids learn their worth and grow to trust again. Hearing their whispered feelings and fears after years of being emotionally shut down; seeing the smiles on their little faces when they achieve something new; watching them play in security and freedom… it’s a profound and beautiful thing to witness.