Fostering has changed the lives of local resident Gale and her partner. It has also changed the lives of those they have cared for.
The couple are Barnardos foster carers and to mark Foster Care Week 2018, Gale tells the story of her fostering journey.
Filling the house
“We’ve been foster carers with Barnardos for about 15 years. We recently moved from the Central Coast and as soon as we arrived put our names down to foster – luckily Barnardos has an office in Orange,” Gale said.
“We are a same-sex couple and we got knocked back from other agencies because of that. Barnardos were the first agency who accepted us for who we are.
We met in Romania where we were both aid workers in an orphanage. The love of children brought us together.Gale - foster carer
“We’ve done it all. From short-term care (6 months to 2 years), respite care (giving other carers a break one weekend a month), to permanent care and adoption.
“My partner and I travelled a lot. We met in Romania where we were both aid workers in an orphanage. The love of children brought us together. As soon as we settled back in Australia and got a mortgage we thought, ‘right, now we need some kids to fill the house!’”
As short-term carers, Gale and her partner have looked after about 12 children through the years, caring for those who can’t go back to their parents and helping them transition to a permanent family.
“It is hard to let them go, but the best part is seeing them find their forever families,” Gale said.
“And we built our family through foster care. The first two children we ever fostered, we adopted. It was the happiest day of our lives. They always wanted to belong in a permanent family.
“They are teenagers now and are a great help with the little ones we look after. They get a lot out of it. I think it helps teach them empathy and compassion.”
Take stock and recharge
Being short-term carers provides people with flexibility in a hectic world.
“The good thing about short-term care is that we can choose to take a break in between,” Gale said. “We take our kids on holiday or renovate the house. We get to take stock and recharge.”
Don’t wait: do it now
“There are so many kids in need of a safe home,” Gale said. “All you need is patience and a whole lot of love.
“We tell everyone they should look into fostering, especially those who say ‘I’d like to foster someday’. Do it now. You won’t regret it.”
Barnardos Australia urgently need foster carers, particularly those who can provide foster care from 6 months to 2 years, as well as carers who can provide permanent care with a view to adoption for siblings. Carers can be single, married or same-sex and receive 24-hour support, training and a generous allowance. Call 1800 663 441 or go to www.barnardos.org.au