24 March, 2015
Canberra foster carers, Mark and Liam*, have been fostering through Barardos Australia for more than two years. During that time they have provided emergency, crisis, concurrency and long term care for four local children in need. They are currently caring for three children under the ages of five years.
We recently sat down with Mark and Liam and asked them about their foster caring experiences.
Barnardos: Where did the idea to become foster carers come from?
Liam: We had taxed ourselves out in relation to other potential avenues for parenting. Just when we thought we had exhausted all the other avenues we looked into fostering. In one way, we wish had started our process of becoming parents by fostering, however, we would not have received the wonderful three children we now have in our care. Fostering had been bought to our attention years earlier, as we recall having foster children at school with us. In addition, one of our friends used to work for Barnardos and would encourage us to help out needy kids.
Barnardos: Do you see big changes in your foster children today compared to when they first came to stay with you?
Mark: The biggest change we see is their sense of security and comfort in their surrounds and their bonds to us. One of our current foster children in particular is a much happier now, with reports from those who have known him for most of his life expressing how he is much more outgoing and interactive than he was prior to coming into our care. It’s great to see a regular smile now on all their faces. Another big change is in their general health. All three came to us requiring some type of additional health care. We really enjoy watching them grow and explore.
Barnardos: How long did you think about it before you applied to become foster carers with Barnardos?
Mark: Once we had exhausted other avenues for becoming parents, we went straight to a Barnardos information night in May 2006. Less than six months later we had completed all the required training (a Certificate IV in Family, Youth and Children). We had also had eight interviews with Barnardos and completed all the required paperwork.
Liam: We did some research before applying and spoke to other foster parents we met through friends. We heard stories from everything between a few weeks to people waiting after four years, depending on what their requirements are. We think the best option if you are considering fostering is to open your heart to children in all types of circumstances and situations and you will be quickly rewarded.
Barnardos: What was the application process like?
Mark: The application process was easy! For us, it was a four step process. The first step was to attend an information night, which we did in May 2012. This just reconfirmed our desire, so we completed all the paperwork and submitted it that night.
Liam: Next we completed a Certificate IV in positive parenting and caring for needy children. This was paid for by Barnardos. We attended one night per week over a two month period, and spent two Sundays at the course.
Mark: Then we had the Barnardos interviews. We sat through eight interviews from Barnardos, totalling 20 hours.
Liam: Finally we sat in front of a panel of approximately eight people. They asked us a few questions, following the interview and after about five minutes the panel chair approached us and advised it was a unanimous decision for us to become foster carers.
Barnardos: What is the best part about being a foster carer?
Mark: The children. No matter what pressures you have in life, how you are feeling or any other type of negativity you experience, when you come home to great big smiles, squeals of delight and hugs from your foster child, the world is turned right again.
Liam: When we turn up to daycare or preschool, the kids run at us with squeals of delight, often to the surprise of other parents whose children show much less enthusiasm at seeing their parents. It is such a wonderful feeling having these little kids be so happy.
Barnardos: What is the hardest part?
Liam: Patience with the people and circumstances that you would not normally have to deal with. But all this is worth it every time you see your child smile. There is also a fair amount of paperwork, and reporting required, however, we build this into our weekly routine.
If you are interested in becoming a foster carer with Barnardos please visit our We Care section.
Mark and Liam's story has also been featured in Issue 44 of Fuse magazine.
(*Names have been changed to protect their privacy.)