“God sets the lonely in families;”
At the heart of CityCare’s mission is a desire to see healthy families and safe, inclusive communities. Our Children & Families program exists to help parents build strengths and resilience, provide supportive social connections and create child friendly environments, through a range of different activities. In celebration of Foster Carer Week (13th-19th September), we want to acknowledge the amazing work that Foster & Kinship Carers do in providing loving homes for children from hard places and highlight some of the everyday heroes in our church who have become Foster Carers.
Andrew and Michelle have been married for 21 years and have four children, three of which are biological – Jack 15, Olivia 13, Isabelle 11 – and their youngest, Eden aged 6, who was placed with them as a 5-week-old baby, after being born seven weeks premature. Just over two years later they were granted permanent care and became her forever family.
This is part of their story as told by Michelle:
“Early in our marriage we spoke about the desire to have children of our own and the longing for being able to adopt. Though we knew little of what was involved, we knew it was a desire, a seed God had planted in our hearts. It wasn’t until after our third child was born that several more specific interactions led us down the path to becoming Foster Carers. It started with a friend from church inviting me to an information session at the Foster Care agency they were a part of and then a year later I came across a video titled ‘re-moved’, about a 10-year-old girl who navigates her way through the foster care system, after being removed from her home and separated from her younger brother. It brought me to a place of heartbreak which I shared with Andrew and at that point we knew we had to take the next step.
Our family’s experience as Foster Carers has been very unique, Eden was only the second child placed with us, the first was a 10-month-old baby girl for a very brief overnight emergency placement. So, we are always careful to highlight that our fostering experience is not what you would generally expect from a foster placement. In just over two years of fostering Eden, we have the most incredible honour to be her forever family.
The biggest challenge we faced in the process of fostering was the unknown. A year into caring for Eden and with no contact with her birth parents, we were told by well-meaning caseworkers not to expect her to stay with us forever. We had decided from day one of having Eden in our home, as with any child we care for, that we would love them unconditionally irrespective of how long we had them in our home. The process is not an easy one. You do have feelings of inadequacy and concerns of how it will work, and how we would manage to fit another child into what was, already a busy family life. I came to learn to rest and allow my heart and spirit to align with what we felt God had placed in our hearts.
If you want to consider becoming a Foster Carer, start having conversations with current carers, ask questions, be open to allowing God to lead you, allow your heart to be broken and take you to a place where you know that you must do something. When we were deciding if it was the right time for us to apply, we asked our kids how they felt about it and they were so excited at the thought of welcoming other children into our family. One thing I hear often when people talk about foster caring is their concern for getting “too attached”. My response is yes, you will get attached, but you are meant to, these children need and deserve you to, some may have been neglected and abused and need you to love them unconditionally.
We know that positive, healthy attachment is essential for brain development, so whether they are with you for a night or a few days, weeks or years, what you will give them will stay with them forever. You can help them heal and know what it is to feel safe, to be safe. So yes, you will get attached but this is not about you, it is about the children and in the process, trust that God will equip you, strengthen you, be there right in the middle of the mess with you and comfort you if or when the time comes to say goodbye.”