Bec Jeffery is one incredible woman who also happens to be a foster mum. Amica is so pleased that Bec is willing to share with us some of her experiences with foster care. Read on to discover more about Bec’s story.
As women who read this blog, I know that you are women who seek to share and create and discuss and befriend. Can you imagine what would happen if this stretched to children and to families who needed care and support? From the practical friendship type of care, to mentoring or supporting a family in a time of crisis, or opening up your homes and hearts to a child?
It was the post Christmas sales – we were enjoying time at a local playcentre after the busyness of the season, my husband and I taking turns looking at all the bargains on offer while the children happily played. Who would have thought while I sat and enjoyed peace and rest that our world was about to change again.
“Do you have room for one more – a newborn? Can you be home in an hour?”
The phone call interrupted us and our lives, as we opened up our home we also opened up our hearts to this tiny premmie baby girl, our youngest who would complete our fab five!
My husband and I have been foster carers for eight years now, in that time we’ve welcomed around 15 children to our family. Some for a short time (respite); some for a period of time when a crisis was occurring in their family and then we had the privilege of working with the family to restore the child back into their home; and our fab five who will be in our home forever.
Our desire to begin fostering began before we were married, we had each seen fostering within friendship and family circles and felt called to consider this in our own lives. We then spent time visiting an orphanage in Thailand as a newly married couple (a couple where fertility was likely to be difficult), and this confirmed our desire to foster or adopt.
The truth is that every part of fostering is equal parts good and bad, hurt and healing, abuse and safety, loneliness and community, beauty and brokenness, loss and gain, barrenness and growth.
I’ve so often heard “I couldn’t foster, my heart would break if I had to send a child home”. This statement is true – your heart will break. I’m not heartless, but I am willing to endure the pain required to care for these children, to carry some of their pain and to put their interests, their pain and their need above my own feelings and comfort.
One of our greatest experiences in foster care WAS restoring a child to his birth family, while it was painful and hurt like crazy, we knew that our investment was worth it when we heard him say, “ Now that I know, I’ll show my Dad how to be a family”.
There is nothing glamorous or saintly about foster care, it’s imperfect and messy, everything from:
- parenting challenges – think tantrums, head lice, changing nappies, teen attitude
- working with parents who the children adore and whose behavior and actions at times we abhor, and
- parenting within a bureaucracy with scrutiny and frustration.
There is truth though in the words written by foster carer and blogger, Jason Johnson “In foster care we willingly accept the costs we may incur as worth it for the gain a child may receive through it. Our comfort for their acceptance; our schedules for their security; our home for their belonging; our hearts for their love.”
Every day in Australia there are 130 substantiated cases of abuse or neglect of children and tens of thousands of children in need of out of home care*. There is a real, and yet often unrealised, need for foster carers in our community.
And while the emotional toll is high, there is nothing that beats the look in a child’s face when they experience childhood as it was meant to be – pure joy – joy that says I’m safe, I’m loved, I’m known, I’m accepted and somebody believes that I am worth it!
For my husband and I, fostering is a role that we absolutely cherish. The children in our family are not ‘foster children’ they are family in every sense. Fostering has also been an incredible ministry for us, it’s provided us the opportunity to care for our communities most vulnerable children; to open up our home with the hope of providing a sense of family and connection; to be an adult who can be trusted to care, listen, offer hope and encouragement; and, to leave a legacy in the lives of the next generation.
As the movie The Blind Side highlights, while it is often considered that foster carers are changing the lives of children, the real truth is that these precious children are changing ours!
So I ask you to please consider how you might invest:
- Volunteering to mentor a young person
- Tutoring a young person
- Raising funds for families at risk at Christmas time or throughout the year
- Advocating for children
- Providing respite care (one weekend/month for 12 months)
- Providing crisis care
- Providing a long term home for a child or young person
*Barnardos Australia September 2013
Do you have a personal experience with foster care? We would love for you to share it with us by leaving a comment below!