As a foster carer, I have a lot of conversations with people, and a lot of those conversations have a common thread. Quite often people say, ‘but how do you let them go?’ My answer is always that ‘yes it is hard but they are going home’.
Today I want to share a little bit about my heart for the children that come into my home.
As carers, when we go through the initial training to become foster carers we are told that there is a minimum standard of care, that there is a requirement to fulfill each child’s physical and emotional needs, and that each child should be treated as if they are part of their family.
This last part is both the easiest and hardest, and it is that which I want to explore a little bit today. It is so easy to love the children that I welcome into my home. Every single one of them immediately became part of my family. Yes I provide a roof over their head and food for their bellies, but what these children need from me is open arms, conversation, hugs, time and anything else that I can do to tell them they are loved and cherished.
When I made the decision to become a foster carer I knew that I wanted to take in the babies and young ones under the age of 5, I also knew I wanted to give each child my all, and that included my heart. I didn’t know how that would work out or even if it was possible, but in readiness I chose to leave my full time job so that I could be home with the children when they came to stay rather than put them in childcare, giving them as much of my time as possible.
Because of this I know I have given them exactly what they needed whilst in my home. I gave them everything that was required as outline in training, but also what they needed, which is love.
So when the time comes for a child to go home to their biological family or to their adoptive family they take with them a piece of my heart. When they do leave I don’t get to see them or hear of their progress, but I do think of them, celebrate their birthdays, love them from a distance, because that is what family does.
Don’t be afraid to love a foster child. Instead, be comforted to know that you have made a difference in that child’s life. You have shown them love, and for some children, you may have been the first person to do that. What an incredible honour it is to change the course of a child’s life for the better simply by loving without reservation or fear for your own heart. Loving a child that you did not give birth to might feel foreign to start with but it is truly amazing to give that gift to a child.
I could not be more proud of anything else I have done in life but to love every child that I have had the privilege of caring for as a foster carer.
If you’d like to know more please visit our website (putthemfirst.org.au), get in touch on 0431 374 760 or contact your state government to learn more about becoming a foster carer.