Gwen & Sue from Connecting Carers NSW & Janene
thank you for allowing Gametag to be part of the celebrations
Our first child was born October 1997 followed shortly after by our second in March 1999 our third pregnancy ended around 6 weeks again and again I had to have it removed incidentally by Dr Charlie Teo's father Dr Phillip Teo. While on the operating table and before I had passed over to that most beautiful twilight zone my last thought was "what the hell am I doing here again". I didn't want to try IVF as we already had two children and I was not sure I wanted to put myself through any more disappointment. I wanted my four children and I didn't want to wait.
The next day I called DoC's to inquiry about becoming foster parents, because there just had to be an easier way to have a family. As far back as I could remember I always thought I would have 2 boys and 2 girls. We enrolled in the fostering course provided by DoC's and have a guess what! I fell pregnant again our third child was born January 2001. We completed the course and told DoC's we needed some time now that we had a new baby.
Sometime after our third child had turned one I called DoC's to tell them we were ready for our first foster child within days we were told to pick up a little bundle from the Childrens Hospital Ranwick that bundle only stayed two weeks, then moved in with his grandmother after she was assessed. On the way to Randwick to pick this first bundle up there was a beautiful rustic furniture shop I had my mum with me at the time and she wanted to have a look and ended up buying a beautiful dining table that seats 20 people made of all different types of wood we sat around this table for months and packed Gametag the table is used at all our family functions and is a constant reminder of the first little bundle who stayed two weeks.
Over the years I have learnt not to take placements back to back it is far to draining, without some down time it is not possible to be the best carer you can and time with just your own kids becomes even more priceless. People often ask me how do I give back the children but not all children come from horrific situations some children come from families where there is an illness or a parent needs an operation those children never stay in care long and are happily returned as soon as the parent is healthy enough to look after them. It's a wonderful thing playing a major part in keeping a family together (oh that's the Gametag catch line my son made up "keeping it together').
Some kids come into care because there has been a death in the family of the primary carer those kids usually go to another relative a grandparent or aunty/uncle those kids never stay long either. Kids in these circumstances are not very difficult and give you such pleasure - keeping that family together simply the best feeling.
We have cared for 18 children in and around our life over the past 10 years and believe me that is not many some carers have dedicated their lives and fostered hundreds you really have to take your hat off to them. The best thing about fostering is when a child leaves and your circumstances change like having my last biological child you can call your fostering agent and let them know you will not be available until further notice. Just because you are a carer does not mean you have to be available 24/7 for the rest of your life fostering is actually very flexible.
There are many different types of care, needing foster carers. There are children in care with long term carers that may need a break once a month so you can opt to have the same child on a regular basis. There is crisis care when an incident occurs and a placement needs to be found immediately, short term where the children are in care while a family member is being assessed and long term placements where it not possible for the child to return to any family member.
Remember I told you I always thought I would have four children two boys and two girls well I was asked if we would take a new born baby some years ago, this time to be picked up at Westmead Children's hospital I met the little bundle at 5 days old and brought the bundle home at 10 days the bundle is at school and has the most wonderful relationship with some biological members of his family my little bundle is very happy with who he/she is and loves how large "the family" is. This bundle has brought such joy to our lives with no stretch marks, labour pains or any of the other discomforts of physically having a baby.
Around the same time another bit bigger bundle came to live with us, who happened to be the same age as my eldest son they immediately clicked and became inseparable. I soon found my son and the bit bigger bundle answering for one another and finishing each others sentences. The relationship to this day is still like twins! The bit bigger bundle stayed about eight months and was returned to his mum who had recovered from an illness this was years ago and bit bigger bundle still comes on most school holidays and stays for a week. They have moved out of Sydney and I have the most wonderful relationship with the mother, I consider her one of my closest friends. We would not have had this friendship if DoC's did not hand it to us.
I have one wish that while reading this I have planted a little seed in the depths of your brain, hopefully the seed in the next few years will grow and you call an agency to tell them the words they are desperately seeking "I think I would like to be a foster carer" talk to your family about it. For me, I had thought about it often but it wasn't until I had my miscarriages that I found the last piece to my perfect family.
.........With all my love Janene xxxxxxxx