THE story of Murraylands couple Jock and Lynette Muir is one of generosity, kindness and true dedication to helping children in need. Decades ago, they opened their home to foster children with the support of country agency ac.care, providing a safe and loving environment, and ultimately changing the course of the lives of young people in their care.
One of these children was Hudson, who was able to stay with his biological brother thanks to Jock and Lynette welcoming the two boys into their care. “Most foster kids should stay as a family throughout the whole experience. …it just helps all round,” Hudson said.
The Muir family home became a safe haven not only to Hudson and his brother, but also five other siblings who joined their household in addition to Jock and Lynette’s own children. “There’s not many carers out there willing to do what Mum and Dad did and be able to take that many of the same family in,” Hudson said, adding many other foster children visited the home for shorter stays over the years.
Children had plenty of room to play with animals and explore their surroundings at Jock and Lynette’s small farm. Playing with sheep, horses, buggies and even Hudson’s pet ferret kept the young people occupied on the property.
While providing a loving foster home was rewarding, it also came with challenges. “We have had the ups and downs like any other family really, but they have all been really good kids and I think living out here has helped - you don't have them wandering the streets and all the kids loved it out here on the farm,” Lynette said.
Today, their family includes many adults who have followed their own paths in life, many becoming parents themselves, after being raised in the Muir household. But many remain connected to Jock and Lynette and visit when they can.
Hudson is 26 years old and has built a family of his own with wife Danielle, raising their two young children while managing a Monarto chicken farm and range of residential and farm properties. He still finds time at weekends to visit “Mum and Dad (that’s what I call them because that’s what they are to me)” and help them with odd jobs around the property. “They're getting to that older age where they can't do what they used to, so we go out there at least once a weekend and visit them,” he said.
Hudson credits the stability and success he has achieved in life to Jock and Lynette’s unwavering support. “They were just there a hundred percent of the way guiding me and the others through what life threw at us," he said.
Hudson was around 18 months old when he entered the care of the Muir household.
“He left here when he was in his 20s because he started off working on a farm just up the road and stayed here,” Lynette said.
For the Muirs, seeing the children they had cared for thrive and become successful adults remains a source of pride.
“When we had Hudson's 21st over at the hall his dad got up and gave a speech and actually said that without me and Lynette, he wouldn't have known where the kids would be or what they would have been up to - he said he doesn't know how they would've got by without us looking after his two boys,” Jock said.
Meanwhile, Hudson has reconnected with his birth mother after Jock and Lynette focused on maintaining contact where possible with birth parents for children in their care.
“She has openly said going into care was one of the best things that happened to us and doesn't resent Mum and Dad for that at all - I'm very grateful for how my life has panned out,” Hudson said.
But he acknowledged there were not enough carers available today to provide the level of support he received in his childhood.
“You do hear stories of where other kids are today and have to wonder if they had a good, safe foster care structure, like what we had, hopefully they could have got to where I am today.”
While the Muirs may have retired from fostering, they encourage others to follow their example.
“People should put their hand up and at least have a go – it makes you feel good, I'm glad we did it and even today they are like brothers and sisters to each other, including our own kids,” Jock said.
To find out more about how you could transform the life of a young person by joining ac.care’s network of respite, short-term or long-term foster carers, visit accare.org.au/services/foster-care or call 1300 ACCARE (1300 222 273).