07 Oct 2020Features
Perseverance and growth: Kim’s foster care journey
When Kim* and her husband first started with SSI’s Multicultural Foster Care program, they thought they would ease themselves into foster caring with short-term care arrangements.
Now, three years later, the couple are still looking after their first foster child on a long-term basis, while also helping several other children gain the confidence and structure they need through short-term placements.
Kim and her husband have lived in Sydney for the past 35 years. The couple have one adult son and a 15-year-old daughter.
Kim explains she has always loved having her home full of children. As her son grew and moved out of home, they decided it would benefit the whole family to join the SSI Multicultural Foster Care program.
“We decided to foster because we have a lot of space in our home and there are many children out there with nowhere to stay. Part of our decision was influenced by the large gap between the age of my daughter and son, and after my son moved out my daughter was a bit lonely,” says Kim.
When searching for an agency, Kim and her husband, who are of Vietnamese and Chinese background, were drawn to SSI’s emphasis on maintaining foster children’s connection to culture.
“I didn’t want the children to have to go into a family where they look different physically. I liked [SSI] because I felt a child with a similar or the same background would find it easier to feel like they fit in with our family.”
Their foster daughter, who is of Thai background, came into Kim and her family’s care in 2018 at the age of eight.
Kim explains that it took time for Mali* to become comfortable and happy with her family, but that in time, she began to accept her new home and did not want to leave.
Kim highlights perseverance and patience as key qualities a foster carer should have, as while the act of foster caring can be immensely rewarding, it has its challenges.
“At times we would say ‘it is too hard; I can’t do this anymore’ but then I would see a positive change in her, and this would change my mind. Now she can come to me to talk about things and I can talk to her. Mali is much happier and wants to stay with us,” Kim says.
While caring for Mali long-term, Kim and her husband have fostered several children in short-term care.
Kim enjoys supporting children to learn new skills in short-term care arrangements and seeing them grow. She explains that she gets the greatest joy in seeing children reunited with their birth family.
“We had two little boys stay with us for two years. I was so happy for them to go home and live with their birth family. It was great to see the changes in them, and to know they could go back to their mum happy,” says Kim.
Kim and her husband feel they have grown as individuals and parents since they began foster caring and plan to continue their journey with long-term and short-term arrangements.
“After three years, I feel that I have gained a lot of experience because I know things will change. I used to think I would never get there, but slowly one day you do, and the kids get it. It isn’t just me that has grown from this, the children learn a lot too,” Kim concludes.
*Names have been changed and stock image used.