If you’ve ever yearned to be a parent, you’ll understand that physical ache to hold a small baby, hoist a toddler onto your hip or kick a ball in the park with your son or daughter. When everyone is getting pregnant except you, the feeling of isolation is very real.
When asked whether they would consider fostering, many people say they want ‘their own child’. But what does ‘own child’ really mean? Usually, people are talking about a blood-relative, a child who shares their genes. But parenting is a whole lot more than biology.
Loving another person’s child
Foster carers are often surprised at the intensity of the bond of love they form when they care for a child not born to them. When you foster a child or young person, you are literally stepping in for the birth parents. You are the one who raises the child in your care to be strong and healthy, both physically and mentally. You are the one who takes them to ballet class or footy practice. You are the one who worries about them when they’re sick or late home.
‘Helping a vulnerable child in crisis has given me a huge sense of achievement. It’s a good feeling to know that I have helped turned a child’s life around.’
Giving a foster child a home for life (known as permanent placement) can happen in several ways – through guardianship, open adoption or a permanent foster care arrangement. While the priority is still to return a child to their family of origin – provided it is safe to do so – the guiding principles for permanent placement have recently changed in New South Wales. These changes mean more opportunities to give a greater number of children a safe and permanent home where they can thrive.
It takes all kinds of people
If you think you don’t qualify as a foster carer or adoptive parent to a child or young person in need, you might be surprised at how possible it is. Whether you’re married, single, or in a de facto or a same sex relationship, you can apply to be a foster carer. It’s not essential to have had previous experience as a parent or as a foster carer, although you do need to be able to show that you can meet the needs of the child or young person placed with you.
The first step is to contact Challenge Community Services on firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll explain the process to you and talk to you about your home situation. You don’t have to make a decision right away. Once you decide to go ahead, our qualified and experienced staff will support you all along the way.
For more information, download our free ebook Fostering for Permanency: Giving Children and Young People a Safe home for Life or go to www.challengecommunity.org.au
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