The best thing about being a carer is being able to offer a home to a child and give them the opportunity to live without fear of abuse and neglect. I love being able to provide a child with the same opportunities as other children so that they can also reach for the stars if they want to.
I have been a registered carer for 21 years. Firstly, with FACS then I transferred to UPA about 6 years ago.
I cannot say how many children I have cared for; initially we only did emergency respite. Then we became long term foster carers. This is where I gain the most satisfaction because one can see the change in children. You can see them blossom. We have also offered planned respite over the years which have also been enjoyable. A change in dynamics for two nights is fun because the children in our care get to have fun with other children and they see it as having friends over for a sleep over.
This year we adopted two of our long term children who are now in their twenties because they were not able to reunite with their birth parents for various reasons. This has provided them long term security and the knowledge there is always someone there for them.
The hardest thing about being a carer is remembering they are not my children. I have the pleasure of caring for them for a period of time in their lives. However they have birth family and mum is mum. I give my heart and soul to these children and hope that I can still be part of their lives, however must remember I do not expect anything back in return and there is going to be periods of grief and loss.
I would recommend being a carer to anyone who has a passion for children. It takes a community to raise a child. It is also the most rewarding experience.
When I am in my old age and able to look back over the years I will take great pleasure in knowing I made a difference.
The thought of an infant girl not having anyone to care for her was too much for Northern Rivers couple Leesa and Lars to bear. It was that, Leesa said, which motivated the couple to take the step to becoming foster carers -- and they haven’t looked back.
Leesa and Lars, after more than 10 years of trying to conceive a child, were faced with the reality that they were unable to have children. Leesa said she had been thinking for some time about foster caring as a way to create their own family unit. That thought was in the back of her mind for several years, and she had shared that thought with friends and workmates.
After hearing of the plight of the infant girl through one of Leesa’s colleagues, the couple decided to take the step to becoming foster parents. That was four years ago, and the couple now have two boys, aged 5 and 7, in their permanent care. “I decided that there were kids out there in need and we had the opportunity to give them a great life,” Leesa said. “And that moment was it (hearing the story of the young girl). “There was a child out there needing care. “That should not happen in Australia. We shouldn’t have children without carers.”
The couple now have the family they longed for, with the help and ongoing support of Youth Care UPA.
“We are a family,” she said. “We’ve gone on overseas holidays. We go camping. We’re a unit. “We wouldn’t think of it any other way. “It (foster caring) has taken away all the anxiety of not being able to have our own children. “It doesn’t matter if you conceive them or you don’t, children are children and once they’re in your care, you love them as much as if they were your own.”
She encouraged others thinking about foster caring to go for it, saying it was “fantastic that they can provide the opportunity for kids.” And she praised the ongoing support that Youth Care UPA provides.