As a police officer in the children’s court, I’d seen plenty of kids who needed out-of-home care. Countless little ones in crisis – siblings and families with no safety, security or support – but I never thought I’d get personally involved.
Our life was perfectly ‘traditional’. I was a police officer for almost 20 years, living a quiet life with my wife and four children. It wasn’t until my first grandchild came along that things began to get a little complicated.
Our son started a relationship with a woman and next thing we knew, we had a three-month-old baby granddaughter! Not long after that, another baby girl arrived. While we did everything we could to help the family, their home life became increasingly unsafe. Over the next four years, violence and drug use frequented their home and the girls were often left on their own in dangerous circumstances. Worried for their safety, my wife and I took our granddaughters into our care.
We tried to create a normal life for the girls, enrolling the eldest in school and working to establish a safe, secure home for them both. But life is never as simple as you’d hope and soon enough, both girls were back with their mother and new half-brother. We stayed connected, visiting on weekends and picking them up from school when their mother forgot to. But eventually, things escalated again and – after seeing the mess, drugs and ￼unsafe people around them – we took the girls into our care once more.
Our granddaughters have been with us ever since and we’ve made sure they have every opportunity they need to excel at life. We enrolled them in good schools, signed them up to sports and surf lifesaving and encouraged them to engage and connect with their Aboriginal heritage. Our doors remained open to our growing family –my grandson and his half-brother moved in, and, while their mother spent time in jail, the girls’ half-brother joined us too. At this stage, we have four children in our home and, while they’re not all our biological grandchildren, they all call us “Nana and Pop” and we love each one of them!
We’ve never regretted taking these kids into our home – we’ve loved every minute and we’re so glad to have had the chance to give them this life. We’ve made sure they know that they are loved and supported and we’ve connected them with the education and psychological care they deserve. These kids have worked through their trauma and are beginning to thrive – excelling in sport and academia and even giving back into their community working with children from troubled homes.
My wife and I believe that we each have to stand up and do our part. Doing my bit and giving these children the care they need has made me a better person. It’s not a job I have to do, it’s a privilege I get to enjoy.