Foster and Kinship Carer Month has begun. This is a chance to say thank you for everything foster and kinship carers do. For people like Jeannie, foster care is not just a job; it’s a precious opportunity to make a difference to the lives of our smallest and most vulnerable. This is Jeannie’s story.
This video was made a year ago. We still have the same twins in our care, and it has been a roller coaster ride to say the very least.
We have had good days, bad days, and some days where we didn’t even want to get out of bed.
Foster caring isn’t something for the half-hearted; we are here to care for the most vulnerable in our society. These little people are our future, and they deserve only the best care and support that we can possibly give.
As a foster carer, we work 24/7. We don’t get sick leave or annual holidays, but then again you don’t get sick leave or annual holidays with `family’, and while in our care, this is what the children are to us.
“All we want is to make a difference, and to make positive changes in their lives – but we don’t do this alone.”
A good sense of humour and a fantastic support network keeps me going on some of the worst days. I am blessed to have a wonderful partner and son, so when things get a bit much, one of us can just get away from whatever the situation is and just breath.
Laughter is the best medicine and it’s amazing what you can find funny after a particularly trying day, when the kids are tucked up in bed and we have a glass of wine for company! But it’s important to have this time to recharge and hash over the day’s events, and sometimes laugh, when really all you want to do is cry!
My son has really connected with the twins and is like a big brother to the children, especially the boy who really loves the male figure in the house.
The little boy wants to be just like Liam, and often goes and changes his clothes or shoes to match what Liam is wearing – it’s really cute.
Liam takes the twins out every Sunday for a few hours to a play cafe, the beach, or park, and it just gives us a chance to recharge our batteries and have that short time of peace and quiet which really soothes the soul.
The twins are an absolute joy – on a good day! But their short time on this earth has been less than ideal. The trauma and neglect these children have faced should never have happened to any child, and their pain and suffering can be seen every day of their lives.
The boy used to be so angry, with absolutely no self-regulation. He would lash out and scream at anything and everything – not even the family pets were safe. All we could do was keep himself and his target safe.
This little boy kept dark secrets from being told not to tell, which obviously weighed heavily on him, and I believe he targeted his sister as he was angry at her for not being able to keep him safe.
The little girl had low muscle tone and both twins had poor vocabulary and pronunciation. If lying was an Olympic sport, the girl could potentially win gold for Australia! These were usually purposeless lies, but we think this was her `norm’ from an early age being trained in deceit.
“Fifteen months later, the change in these children today is unbelievable.”
At four, they were both in nappies full-time. The boy has now been nappy free for quite some time, and the girl is nappy free during the day. She is very proud that she is a `big girl now’.
The boy’s angry outbursts have just about ceased, leaving typical five-year-old outbursts, and we are left with a young man who just wants to give and receive so much love.
The twins see a speech therapist, and the change in the children is remarkable. Every professional we see cannot believe how far they’ve come. This is still very much a work in progress but, for children with Global Development Delay, they are certainly on the right path – and they are catching up with their peers.
The girl’s low muscle tone has vastly improved with correct nutrition and exercise. She has the most beautiful smile, which she constantly reminds us of.
The children are enrolled in the most fantastic kindy, where the staff are all trauma informed. This has made a huge difference to them. The boy is not labelled as a trouble maker. Instead his actions are understood and supported. We will be eternally grateful to this bunch of professionals.
The kids also have help from a podiatrist, a paediatrician who has known the twins from a very young age, and we have access to psychologists who have given us invaluable insight and strategies into the twin’s behaviour.
Although we foster the children, there are so many others who support us to support them, and we all work together towards positive changes in their lives.
Last but definitely not least, we have the team at Centacare.
Every single person we have come into contact with has touched our lives and been vital in the success and fantastic changes we now see in the twins.
“The team at Centacare knows the interests of children are of paramount importance, and know that by supporting us, we can better support them.”
We have the most fantastic foster care support worker who listens to us endlessly, and we never feel that we are wasting her time. She helps us better understand issues, and also helps us put things into perspective.
She lifts us up when we are down, and always follows up any queries we may have. We know she has many clients, but she always makes us feel like we are her number one.
So, thank you Centacare, and thank you, Dani, for all you do for us and the children.
* If you would like to follow Jeannie’s lead and explore becoming a foster carer, please phone our team on 8159 1400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org For more information about Foster and Kinship Carer Month, please visit the Department for Child Protection.