Scott and Isobel have been foster carers for seven years and have looked after two children in long-term placements. The couple’s foster son was 11 years old when he came to live with them, and his younger sister joined their family one year ago when she was 14 years old.
“As a couple, Scott and I have always loved children and have had a particular concern for the vulnerable children in our community.
We were in conversation with friends one morning and they told us about an 11 year old boy in foster care who needed to live in a caring and safe home. Scott and I thought about this conversation a lot, and spoke with our children and grandchildren to make sure we had their support. They encouraged us to enquire further with Anglicare Victoria, which was the agency managing the boy’s ongoing care. We were given the greatest of help and information, and chose to do the foster carer training course at the first opportunity.
Our foster son was in Grade 5 when he came to us and he was growing into the teenage years. It has been both interesting and challenging. Overall, it is an enjoyable journey, we have learnt so much and made so many friends along the way.
Our lifestyle has continued in its same pattern over the years but we are busier because we have to include school commitments, driving teenagers to and from their activities. Each step towards their independence and living a confident adult life is very satisfying to see.
We enjoy going on holidays as a family and taking the children to places that will give them new and different experiences. We have so much joy watching them try something new or learn another skill. They have the opportunity to meet new people with us and extend their areas of knowledge.
Of course, it is also hard to live through the days when they are uncommunicative, or ‘grumpy’, and life is very negative for them. As they struggle through these times, we do too. When it is an issue of life’s boundaries and making good choices, these times can be tough to negotiate. However, these testing times are often the greatest learning opportunities which build character, both for our teenagers and for us. Extra help from Anglicare Victoria has always been available in the best possible way and we have always had good resolutions. Anglicare Victoria has been an excellent support and is always the first point of call to share good news and to ask for help and advice.
Many people shy away from caring for teenagers because they are considered difficult and unmanageable. However as daunting as society’s perception can be, the teenage years are the last years before adulthood, and it is important to see beyond these negativities and see the longer-term goal – a confident and secure adult.
Teenagers need a safe place to live, with an adult who will advocate for them and protect them. They need opportunities to learn and make mistakes. They need to belong and feel accepted. They also need good and steady role-modelling by all the adults caring for them so they can make good choices in any situation. They will get it wrong sometimes, just as we all do. However, they learn by watching and listening to those around them – even if they give the impression that they are totally disinterested and not listening. We need to make good choices too.
Scott and I are blessed to have a very supportive and loving family and many friends who have embraced our two foster children. They have watched them grow over the years and shared their achievements, and have helped them through disappointments. They have spoiled them with treats and made them feel special. They have shown them that they belong. They have also encouraged us when we have struggled and shared our excitement when milestones have been reached. It is true that it takes a village to raise a child.
We have gained so much from our experience as foster carers. We have met so many new people and been involved in different activities in many new places. Our lives have been enriched, as have the lives of each member of our family. We are so pleased that we have had an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of two very special people – teenagers!
The journey is still continuing!