Michelle and Marc’s Story
Michelle and Marc started their journey as registered foster carers four years ago and have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of the children in their care and supporting other carers. Their ongoing commitment to the children in their care and other carers in their community has seen them named as Carer Recognition Award winners.
Community-minded couple Michelle and Marc have been together for 15 years and were living in Abu Dhabi where their son was born. They had discussed foster caring before going overseas and as soon as they returned to Australia, they were ready to start.
Michelle says, “Foster caring is something we’d talking about doing and we joined up with Caresouth, and within 9-months with had our first twin boys. They’ve been in our care now for 5 years, and their big sister came to join us 3 years ago as well.”
The twin boys arrived into Michelle and Marc’s care at 4-months old as a restorative placement and after two years they volunteered to provide them with a permanent placement. Not long after this, the couple took in the boys’ older sister who was also in need of a placement.
While Michelle has had some experience caring for children, and she and Marc engaged in training and development sessions prior to become carers, they are still surprised by how much they’ve learned once they began caring for children.
“My family had fostered when I was about 12 and we fostered for years so I was used to having kids around when I was growing up. I worked as a nanny before and worked in childcare centres, so I’ve always been around kids,” recalls Michelle.
Michelle and Marc changed course from their original vision to care for numerous children for varying periods of time, to permanent care for siblings. However, they are ecstatic about the unexpected turn of events and have displayed absolute commitment to the children in their care.
Their twin boys are autistic, and Michelle and Marc have done further training to be able to better care for them, and renovated their home to cater for the needs of the growing children. The couple feel strongly about keeping the children connected to their family and ensuring the sibling group stay together.
“We were expecting the door to be opening and closing and having lots of kids coming through but here we are still with our original three and they’re with us forever so it’s just made us a whole family now. With our own son, we’ve got four kids now and we wouldn’t change it.” says Marc.
Michelle reflects, “What surprised us was just how rewarding it is, we love them just like they’re our own children. When I gave birth to my son I fell in love with him immediately, and as soon as I saw the little boys and our little girl when they came into our care it was the same. I thought wow this feels right, this is our family.” Marc adds, “Watching them all interact around the dinner table, they’ve all got their own personalities and do different things but collectively they all mix together.”
Marc says he and Michelle have learned a lot by caring for the children and values the hands-on experiential learning that comes by jumping into the deep end. Their life-based learning is supported by prior training they did with My Forever Family NSW and their agency and caseworker.
Michelle’s advises that strong relationships are important, “Have a strong network around, make sure you have a strong relationship with your partner if you’re fostering with a partner. Have patience and understanding be prepared for anything”.
“You’ve done all this training, and they’ve told you all these things that could happen. But when you actually have these little people come through your door, you’re like wow we’re here, and it’s amazing how quickly you fall I love with them. How quickly you don’t want to let them go,” she continues.
A support network of fellow carers is also important, says Marc, “Talking to other carers really helps because they go through the same unique experience. Even though it doesn’t sound unique being a carer, it is and other carers understand that.”
Michelle and Marc’s commitment to ongoing training and supporting other carers by sharing their experiences is a core reason why they were nominated for a Carer Recognition Award.
“Michelle and Marc have supported other carers and the community by their involvement in their local carer support group. They are voracious learners and have helped Caresouth by assisting with initial training for new carers. Michelle and Marc are always expressing interest in learning more about trauma informed care and how they can be the best carers and family to the kids,” says Julie at Caresouth who nominated the couple.
Michelle and Marc’s core belief around providing a stable, nurturing home has seen them excel as carers and their children flourish. Despite having a full house now, they still have their hearts and minds open to future possibilities.
“We have a dog now, and our two boys are autistic and are starting school next year, so we’ve got our hands full. But who knows what’s going to happen in the future, never say never. Whether it’s part-time or emergency care sometime in the future, we’re open,” concludes Michelle.