Toula and Peter Finka
I am a teacher and seven years ago a student in my class was taken into care. He was removed from school and we had to take him straight to hospital. I had to get my husband to come and get our biological daughters who were seven years old at the time (they attended the same school I was teaching at). As luck would have it my husband saw the little boy who was badly injured, and that became his turning point too. It made us both very upset and angry at the situation, and it became a pivotal point for us. We started the process of applying to be respite carers almost immediately.
We decided to start as respite carers, which usually entails looking after children on weekends, because we just wanted to see how it would work. We wanted to make sure it was a decision the kids would be happy with as well.
Then our fifth respite child became short term, which ended up being a six-month period. At that point we realised we’d be happy being long term carers because it went so well, and we currently have our sixth long term foster child living with us.
Two years ago, we became kinship carers for a 10-year-old girl, which means the court ruled she would be with us until she turns 18. I still remember the day she came into our house, the first thing she said was, ‘I just want a family who loves me’. She was with us for two years before the kinship ruling happened. When we told her she was so excited and asked who the judge was because she wanted to tell them, thank you. That was an amazing moment.
Anyone can be a foster carer, all you need is a safe home and lots of love to give. It’s extremely rewarding being able to offer kids a safe and loving environment to grow up in.
I know there is an extreme shortage of foster homes right now in New South Wales so I say to anyone who is considering it, please give it a go and know that you can seek out support services like My Forever Family NSW.
Being Greek / Croatian, we have an added multicultural element. It’s really rewarding to learn about the cultures of the children we are caring for, and vice versa, it’s really rewarding being able to teach children about our cultures which are generally different to theirs. We gain from it as much as the child does and so do my kids.