12 Feb Newlyweds foster love
The “best wedding present ever” for Kathryn and Ben Lawson was the news that they’d been approved as foster carers.
It came a few days before their nuptials and a year after they took the first step on an in-depth assessment and preparation journey with Uniting, involving information sessions, home interviews and training. Now the couple – who have fostered over 40 children over the past four years – are encouraging others to give it a go.
“I’m so glad we did it because, while it can be challenging, it can also be extremely fulfilling,” said Kathryn. “I would encourage people considering fostering to take the first step in getting the information about what’s involved.”
The Dubbo couple currently provide short-term care for four children, including three siblings, as a stepping stone to their transition back to their birth families. Kathryn and Ben say they didn’t know how flexible fostering could be before they became carers themselves.
“Uniting are looking for long-term, short-term and respite support,” she said. “You can even just pop in and help out for a few hours, such as taking them to a football game.”
She said she was also surprised to find how easy it was to decline a placement if need be. “There have been times where we’ve just said ‘no’ because we need the weekend to ourselves and there’s never been any judgement for that.”
“We are always being offered different types of training and support whether it’s first aid or cultural training, as sometimes we care for Indigenous children if there are no kinship carers available.
“Our local Uniting caseworkers are also extremely generous in their support and assistance – from help with getting to medical appointments or just the school pick up to help us both around our work schedules and keeping a general home routine.”
The children they’ve cared for call them by a range of names. “Some call us aunty and uncle, some buy our first names and to others we are Mum and Dad. What the children we care for call us is not only dependent upon the relationship we build with them, but also what they need.”
The couple, who do not yet have biological children, both come from big families. “Our decision to become foster carers enabled me to fulfil my maternal need while giving a bit back,” said Kathryn. “Should we be blessed with our own children, we would continue to teach them the benefits of family and sharing.”
To take the first step in becoming a foster carer with Uniting, come along to one of our information sessions. You might be surprised by the different sorts of people who can become foster carers. If you’re kind and compassionate, single or in a couple and 18 years or older, you can apply. At Uniting, we welcome people regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religious beliefs. But of course, a commitment to respecting children and promoting their right to be heard is essential. For more information, call 1800 864 846 or email us.
A version of this article originally appeared in The Daily Liberal.