“He’s done more for us than we have for him,” says Fleurieu Peninsula foster carer Tony about the boy he has welcomed into his family with wife Laura.
It is a heartfelt endorsement of the transformational power of foster care, which has blessed the couple’s lives and provided love, safety and support for their five-year-old foster child.
Laura strongly advocated for the couple – who were unable to have their own children – to become foster parents, but Tony concedes he took some convincing at the start.
After around a year of discussing the idea, Tony and Laura attended an ac.care foster care information session, contemplating what they had learnt before applying to join the carer network a year later.
“We couldn’t have our own children and I knew we still had a lot to give a child,” Laura explains, adding she did not want to give up on her hopes of raising a child in their home.
“I can’t believe that I was hesitant about it at the start because the way I feel about him now and the bond that we all have is amazing,” Tony said.
“You can’t imagine life any other way.”
After meeting all requirements through the approval process to become foster carers, Laura and Tony received a phone call to arrange a meeting with the then-three-year-old boy.
What was seemingly a typical Tuesday afternoon at a neighbourhood playground actually set the foundation of a life-altering journey for all involved.
Just days later Tony and Laura opened their home to the boy for a long weekend visit.
“He just waltzed in with his suitcase like ‘yep, no problem’” Tony recalled.
The boy’s confidence and independence continued to blossom under the care of Tony and Laura, with the self-proclaimed “busy people” adapting their lifestyle to balance becoming foster parents alongside their respective full-time professions.
“With anything we’re doing, he loves to help – he loves to be busy,” Tony said.
Building relationships through camping, gardening and countless hours spent playing board games, the child has also become a much-loved member of the broader family.
“All our family and friends just treat him like he is part of the family,” Laura said.
“My mum was a foster child, so it wasn’t strange to our family and we love him like he is our own.”
Laura encouraged anyone interested in learning more about foster care to attend an ac.care information session or contact the country-specialist organisation.
“A lot of people think about foster care, but don’t always know how to get involved or are a little bit scared to take that first step,” Laura said.
“If there is anybody even just considering it, look into it because we just keep hearing about the thousands of children that are out there that are desperate for homes and carers,” Tony added.
ac.care is seeking country people to become foster carers and offer children and young people, who cannot live with their birth families, a chance to thrive in a safe and nurturing home in their own community.
“We need carers in the Fleurieu Peninsula, Adelaide Hills, Murraylands, Riverland and Limestone Coast,” ac.care foster care manager Dani Atkinson said.
“Care doesn’t have to be long-term – we also need short-term and emergency carers, as well as respite carers to occasionally provide a break for primary carers, such as on a weekend or for a day when carers have other commitments.”
Ms Atkinson explained the backgrounds of carers was diverse, from young adults to retirees, single people, same sex couples and people with experience raising their own children or new to caring for young people.
“It really helps to have a diverse pool of carers to match the needs of children to the homes available,” she said.
The country specialist works with people who are considering making a commitment to care for vulnerable babies, children and teenagers by providing an initial assessment, training, connection with other carers and ongoing 24/7 support to ensure carers have the assistance they require.
Visit our Foster Care page or call 1300 ACCARE (1300 222 273) to learn more about foster caring with ac.care.