From growing up in care to becoming a foster carer: Abby’s story
From the age of five years old up to her teenage years, Abby spent time on and off growing up in foster care. Because of this experience, she knew she wanted to play a part in supporting young people just like her, so when she was 21, she decided to become a foster carer herself.
Tell us about yourself…
My name is Abby* and I live in the Grampians with my husband and two children.
I first became a foster carer 10 years ago at the age of 21 and since then have fostered children from brand-new babies to teenagers. I work in the social work field and have worked with young people in residential care which was a very rewarding experience.
Why did you become a foster carer?
When I was 5, I entered foster care for the first time. I felt very stigmatised and labelled when I was growing up because I was in care, and I wanted to change that for other children. I knew that I could help children in care because I knew what that experience was like, and I knew how the system worked.
What type of foster care did you decide to provide?
When my husband and I first became foster carers, we decided to provide long-term care for high-risk young people who had been in residential care. They were children who had experienced a lot of trauma and been in and out of the care system but because of my experience, I knew I could help.
Later, I moved into short-term and respite care to better suit my work commitments and my family. I also decided to take a short break for a period of time while I was caring for my own children, but I plan to continue fostering into the future. As a foster carer, it’s always important to put your family first.
How do you see your role as a foster carer?
As a foster carer, I see my role as almost as a mentor-type position. Yes, you help raise these children for much of your life, but they have their own biological family too. Your job is to support them and their relationship with their biological family so that they are able to return home.
We’ve supported children to go home again, and it feels amazing to see young people reunited with their family. It feels reassuring to know we’ve helped them on that journey, and we take solace in knowing that we gave them some stability during the time they stayed with us.
My biggest goal is to make children in my care feel less alone and more heard. If I can do that, I feel like I have made an impact. When kids come into my home, I want them to know that if they need me, I will always be there to help them. That’s something I wish I had when I was growing up.
What advice would you give new foster carers?
The best foster carers are resilient and have lots of grit. You can’t go into it with any expectations but know that the rewards outweigh the challenges. Some days are harder than others but ultimately it is an amazing privilege to be able to affect and change someone’s life. I take great pride in being a foster carer.
Interested in becoming a foster carer?
Fostering Connections welcomes foster carers from all backgrounds and walks of life. If you can create a safe and supportive home for a child to thrive, give us a call on 1800 013 088 or enquire online.