Ask CareSouth foster carers Rob and John what raising a seven-year-old boy has brought to their lives and their answer is simple – a sense of purpose.
“When I wake up in the morning now it’s not ‘okay what am I going to do?’ Now we have somebody to look after,” said John. “He wants to do things and get out and about. He gets us both out of our comfort zones. He’s such a joyous little ball of happiness. He just runs everywhere and generally has a positive attitude about everything,” said John.
“He’s gotten me on a bicycle again,” said Rob, grinning.
The couple’s love for their foster son is evident in the way their faces light up when they talk about him.
And while it hasn’t all been smooth sailing – the first few months establishing routines was exhausting – the couple are quick to point out they got “really lucky” when they welcomed the young boy into their lives.
“He just fitted in perfectly,” said John. “And he was adamant he was staying with us from day dot.”
“I think that CareSouth have done an excellent job at looking at what the kids need and what carers have to offer,” said Rob.
Rob and John’s foster care journey got off to a bumpy start when the first agency they approached to become carers told them they were not eligible because they were a same sex couple. So the pair were referred to CareSouth.
“We knew CareSouth was a great organisation and everyone was so supportive from the very beginning,” said John. “We previously didn’t want kids at all. I loved my double income no kids but then I heard an advertisement for foster carers. I think I shocked Rob when I brought it up.”
“I thought I had put that away (raising a child) for life choices but there were some good points to it. And ultimately it was a really good decision. We have the time and we have the resources. With the right agency like CareSouth, it’s been a really positive outcome for us,” said Rob.
The couple have worked hard to help the young child feel safe, secure and supported, while also ensuring he stays connected to his biological family. From the very beginning of their foster care journey Rob and John recognised the importance of building positive relationships with the young boy’s family, particularly his siblings.
“That part was really easy,” said Rob. “They are really wonderful and really welcoming.”
“It was a piece of cake,” said John. “I think what helped most is that they saw an instant improvement in him. His sister says to me when I talk to her on the phone that she can sleep at night now, knowing that he’s okay and in good hands.”
“It is really good to see him with his siblings again. Last time his sisters visited they read him a bedtime story and it was adorable,” said John.
Rob and John have embraced the child’s siblings as their own and have welcomed them into their home. They spend Christmas and school holidays together, either travelling to Western NSW or inviting the child’s siblings to stay with them.
The pair have also met the young child’s parents and that proved to be a turning point in their relationship with their foster son.
“It was a massive deal for him that I met his mum and he saw us talking to each other, being civil,” said John. “And his dad saw that he really does care for us. That was important for him to know.”
Rob and John acknowledge that the support they get from their caseworker, and the training opportunities they are offered, has made the transition from a family of two to a family of three so much easier.
“We can call our caseworker anytime, not just because there’s a problem but because we want to share a funny story or a win,” said John.
“From the outset we knew we would be in this for the long haul,” said Rob.