13 Dec Christmas journey: foster mum gives adopted son the greatest gift
Christmas is a time when families come together.
In the Christmas of 2017, 48-year-old Tina Murphy ventured on a six-hour return drive across NSW for her adopted son to be with his blood family.
Rylie was just nine days old when he joined Tina’s family. Back then, Tina was a short-term respite foster carer with Uniting. In line with government recommendations, the Uniting program has a strong focus on family restoration wherever possible, and Tina didn’t foresee that the boy placed in her care was arriving at his forever home.
“I already had three grown daughters,” Tina remembers. “I didn’t really expect to be going right back to the beginning again with parenting a tiny child. But when Rylie needed me for longer than the two weeks I’d originally committed to, I felt like there wasn’t a decision to be made – I welcomed him into my arms.”
But things took an unexpected turn for Tina with Rylie’s birth Mum terminally ill. Before she died (and without other family members able to take on the parenting role), Riley’s Mum asked Tina to make the obvious bond she and Rylie shared official by adopting him.
In November 2014, Uniting helped Tina to proceed with adopting Rylie and on 23 June 2017 the adoption was finalised. We worked to help secure ongoing funding for Tina and Rylie, who has a range of learning difficulties.
As part of Tina’s commitment to Riley’s Mum, she also made the promise that she’d always ensure Rylie was kept in regular contact with the rest of the family. Her long experience as a foster carer also taught her the value of maintaining strong connections with biological families.
“I’m a firm believer in open adoption,” says Tina. “I believe Rylie has a right to know his birth family and I feel that it is my responsibility as his adoptive parent to ensure that happens.”
“We have photos of Rylie’s family by his bed and we often talk about them all. I really believe that the more open you are, the healthier it is for the children.”
Making memories, forming bonds
That’s how Tina and Rylie came to be making the road trip across NSW to spend the Christmas in the home town of Rylie’s birth family – to help ensure Rylie makes memories and forms ever important bonds.
As Tina watches Rylie grow, she can be proud of the person she is helping him to be. And while her journey as a foster and adoptive parent hasn’t always been easy, she beams when she talks about how rewarding it is.
“I consider myself to be a very lucky lady,” she says.
Read more inspiring stories about Uniting foster carers
Become a foster carer with Uniting
Our foster care program is appealing for short-term, long-term and respite foster carers to come forward. If you share Tina’s passion for keeping families connected and think you could open your heart and your home to a child in need, please call 1800 864 846 or email firstname.lastname@example.org