I would love to be a foster carer.
Every day my heart strings are tugged at knowing there are so many children out there needing a home. But for me, whilst I have the heart and the home and am willing but not able, I couldn’t give all of me right now.
I have a beautiful 8-year-old daughter. She is the heart of our family (which also includes my husband and my 13-year-old son). We are a picture-perfect family however my daughter is medically complicated and complex.
On an average day, life is easy, we have systems and team work, and our days follow a plan. But on days when things change, when the unexpected happens, I don’t cope the best, my anxiety skyrockets to a level 10 and I need more support than I can give.
And I could not bring another child, a child who needs me at my best, into a life where those days are frequent. Even if it weighs heavy on my heart because I know exactly how many children need a safe home.
Now, to be able to help in other ways, I had to stop ‘wishing’ a could be a foster carer. Because the more I ‘wished’, the more I stopped myself from looking at all the other ways I could help. So, I accepted what my capabilities were, and I investigated other ways I could help.
And boy, there are so many other ways to help a foster child. You can get involved in organisations that support foster children, you can support a foster family, you can donate to causes the benefit foster children.
So, for me, the best way I could help a foster child was to support a foster family. To become part of their village. It takes a village to raise a child and that goes double for a foster child.
Now my role in this village is a very specific one. I make chilli.
When they get sick – they get chilli.
When they get swamped at work – they get chilli.
When life gets a little harder – they get chilli.
And not 1 meal of chilli, a huge batch that lasts a few days.
They wait for it and are so comfortable knowing that it is my contribution, they even ask for it.
My chilli, for this family, has become a moment of self-care. It’s a moment they take for themselves.
I also have the self-appointed role of ‘cuddly’ provider. When new babies come into their home, I make sure that every child has their own cuddly that will stay with them.
Understandably not everyone can make chilli, but there are so many roles needed in a foster care village. A playdate or coffee date is worth gold as being a foster carer can be isolating at times. But you can help with supplies for a foster child, help with home and garden maintenance, babysitting services, even just running a few errands to free up some time for a foster parent is appreciated.
If you don’t know a foster carer, another option is to reach out to your local Foster Care Organisation and ask if there is anything they need. Donating food, new clothes, new toys, school supplies, Easter, Christmas or even Birthday presents. You can contact Foundations Care on 1300 395 005, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media platforms.
Queensland Foster and Kinship Care and Foster Care Association WA are also great places to contact as their roles are deliver services to Foster Families.
On the path of foster care organisations, there are many organisations that support vulnerable children including childing in out of home care. You can, in turn support them that they can keep operating.
The Pyjama Foundation offers The Love of Learning Program. This was developed by The Pyjama Foundation to empower children in Foster Care with learning, life skills and confidence to change the direction of their lives. You can volunteer as a ‘Pyjama Angel’ whose role is to provide consistent love and support, and most importantly, instil a love of learning in children. You can also purchase products from their shop in which profits go to the organisation. Or the easiest option of all is to just donate.
Another organisation that helps vulnerable children is Big Brother Big Sisters of Australia. They offer mentoring for young people based on the power of friendship. You can help by becoming a mentor, buying a membership that funds a mentor and mentee or by just donating what you can.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you choose to support a child in care – what matters if that you do. Whether directly, indirectly, physically, or mentally, the more people who reach out to help, the more children that are getting that help.