TYPE OF CARE
AGE OF CHILDREN
Holly’s Carer Journey
What inspired you to become a carer, what was your motivation?
I’ve reached a point in my life where I feel both mentally and financially prepared to embark on the wonderful journey of parenthood. Even though I haven’t had any biological children of my own yet, I’ve drawn inspiration from my incredible mother. Our home was always open, and she became a “Mum” to many of my brothers and my friends who found love and support under our roof.
This experience has led me to consider extending my family through fostering. I’ve always been moved by the stories of people like Cathy Glass, a British writer who shares her experiences fostering children, especially those who have faced hardships and abuse. Reading her memoirs, I’ve seen the transformative power of a stable and caring environment.
I believe in the idea that a child doesn’t have to be biologically yours to create a safe, happy, and loving home for them. I’m eager to be that supportive figure for a child in need, providing them with a foundation of security and love. I’ve witnessed firsthand the positive impact such a commitment can have, and I’m excited about the possibility of changing a child’s life for the better.
How has being a carer impacted you?
Juggling full-time work with the responsibilities of being a full-time foster mother has been a unique challenge. Unlike the typical preparation for parenthood, my journey into fostering involved an unexpected phone call, with only 90 minutes to prepare for a little one in need of love and support.
Fortunately, I have a strong support system. My mother and sister have been invaluable pillars of assistance, and my close-knit community provides an extra layer of support, extending beyond typical family bounds.
In my dual role over the past two years of fostering, the joy of watching my foster son grow has been the defining highlight. This experience emphasizes the strength of the support system around me, highlighting that fostering is a collective effort that shapes a child’s future. Embracing the challenges and celebrations of fostering, I find fulfilment in both my professional and personal life.
Are there any moments in your foster care journey that stand out?
Countless moments stand out in our foster care journey, these are what I like to call our core memories. From the first time he stood in the cot at 2 am, calling out “Mum,” to beach holidays, crabbing adventures, and welcoming our first puppy to the family, each of these moments, including morning boogies and community Halloween ‘trick or treating,’ form the glue that binds our journey together. These seemingly simple moments are the highlights of our foster care experience.
How have you overcome challenges while being a foster carer?
Navigating the path of foster care comes with its share of challenges. However, I’ve discovered effective ways to overcome them. Maintaining open communication with our case worker has proven crucial—addressing uncertainties and seeking guidance proactively. My support system, particularly my knowledgeable Mum, has been invaluable when facing uncertainties, whether reaching out to family, friends, or community members. Actively participating in my community not only provides additional support but fosters a sense of belonging for both my foster child and me.
Embracing a blended family approach is essential, recognising the significance of my foster child’s biological family. Making extra efforts with biological family inclusion, such as attending sibling visits, meeting bio family members, and having pictures around the house, helps overcome cultural, personal, and professional challenges. Acknowledging and addressing cultural challenges is paramount, striking a balance between my role as a foster carer, and an Aboriginal woman, and respecting the cultural nuances of the family and different communities can be demanding but is essential for the well-being of everyone involved.
Despite challenges, I remain hopeful, taking each day as it comes. Patience becomes a guiding virtue, allowing for gradual progress and positive outcomes for my foster son, who is the most important person in all of this. Engaging with other foster carers has been helpful, learning from their experiences and gaining insights into how they’ve overcome challenges provides a diverse perspective on handling various situations.
The key in my experience is to embrace challenges with resilience, seek guidance when needed, and foster an environment of understanding and inclusivity within the blended family dynamic.
Do you have any advice for new foster carers?
Choosing to become a foster parent has been a decision filled with total commitment, supported by my mum and my sister. We have no regrets, even on challenging days, the joy of unexpected cuddles, bugs, mud pies, and paintings he is so proud to share, along with the knowledge that we’ve created a safe haven, far outweighs any difficulties.
Looking back, I wish I had known more about local support groups for foster carers at the beginning. These groups provide a valuable community where you can seek advice and guidance from seasoned individuals who have navigated the system for years. My advice to new foster carers is to actively seek out and connect with these support groups. The collective knowledge they offer is crucial for gaining a better understanding from a foster parent’s perspective.
Amid challenges, it’s essential to recognise the profound impact of being a safe haven for a child when they need it the most. Embrace the support around you, lean on experienced foster carers, and treasure the moments of connection that make this journey incredibly rewarding.