Lisa's fostering story as a single carer
Being single, working full-time or not having parenting experience is no barrier to becoming a foster carer. Lisa shares her fostering story as a single carer and how it's been the most rewarding experience she's ever had.
Tell us a little bit about yourself...
My name is Lisa and I live in the South East of Melbourne. I worked as an Executive at St Kilda Football Club for nine years and now work in disability support in Marketing and Communications for Wallara Australia. As a single carer, I have been fostering for eight years with OzChild. I started fostering as a respite carer one weekend a month, and quickly realised I could give more and started fostering long-term. I currently have a child in a long-term placement who has been with me for five years and recently welcomed another child into my home who has been with us full time for ten months.
Why did you decide to become a foster carer?
It was something that I had in the back of my mind for a long time. My family had its own struggles when I was growing up and when I think back it could have been a sliding doors moment which could have gone either way, but my life ended up well. I know that anyone could fall on hard or challenging times and I’ve loved every moment since I've been a foster carer.
I found myself single and in my late 30’s and thought the time was right for me to explore doing something to help the community and that I could do something special for kids who needed support, to share my life and experiences and hopefully be a positive adult connection.
We hear and see so much about children living in poverty around the world that is devastating, but what many people don’t realise is that there is such a need in our own backyard. There are so many young people that are vulnerable every day in Australia, young people that may be in our own suburbs or our own streets that need our support.
What advice would you give to people thinking about fostering?
When I was thinking about fostering, I was worried I wouldn’t have the time. I was single and working full time as well as having my own friends and family but any young person I have fostered has fitted in so well. They've just become part of my family and finding time was never an issue. Fostering will become one of the most fulfilling things you’ve ever done.
As a carer it's important for people to know that the difference you are making to the lives of young people can be immense, whether it’s respite for a weekend, long term placement or an overnight emergency stay.
Every challenge that I thought would be a challenge wasn’t. Life is short and you just have to jump in.
What’s been the most rewarding experience?
The most rewarding thing has been seeing the positive changes to her approach to relationships, schoolwork and belief in herself. She could become angry very easily when she first came into my care and had trouble focussing on any activity and to see her settle and realise it’s a place she is supported, feels safe and is encouraged. The change has been remarkable. We are very opposite, I am quite calm and quiet while she is so outgoing, full of energy and talks and sings a lot but we work, it’s such a wonderful match.
Most adults struggle with change and it is no wonder that young people in foster care find the change challenging and that the only way they know how to show they are struggling may be through their behaviour. The young person in my care absolutely had huge ups and downs but now I just see a settled, happy and calm teen that is doing well at school and forming strong friendships. We have a joint love of hiking, camping and the outdoors which has been wonderful for our connection. I have a wonderful support network in my family, friends and workplaces and she has been embraced by them all.
What does ‘family’ mean to you?
Family can be anything. I’ve never thought of family as only being made up of a mother and a father. It is absolutely true that it takes a village to raise a child. Different people in my life have become ‘family’. My neighbour is wonderful and has a fantastic relationship with the kids in my care and they see her as an Aunty. My dog is important figure in our family, he has had an incredible impact on the young people that have stayed with me and helped them form strong bonds and my own nephews and niece have been unbelievable supports of all of the children I have cared for. As long as you are creating a caring household, that’s all you need.
I am still in touch with the first child in my care who used to come on weekends. Her kinship family is part of my family now and she also became a part of my family and joins us on family events and holidays.
My whole view of biological families has changed since fostering. I was unsure and nervous when I first started being a foster carer but have since met family members of two of the young people I have cared for. I have a greater appreciation for their families own life stories and that for whatever reason, they just aren’t or may never be in the right place to look after their children. This experience has personally made me a better person and carer.
Interested in becoming a foster carer?
Families come in all shapes and sizes and so do foster carers. Foster carers play a critical role in supporting children and young people in care to thrive. If you think you can create a safe and supportive environment for a child, then give fostering a go.
To find out more about becoming a foster carer, call 1800 013 088 or enquire today.