As a special needs educator, Catherine knew she had so much to offer a child and, in 2016 with the support of AnglicareSA, she didn’t just become a foster carer – she became mum.
Catherine came to Australia from the UK in 2011 on a Commonwealth Teacher Exchange, joining the Kilkenny Primary School and working with the two special education classes on campus.
Immediately feeling right at home in Australia, she settled, and thoughts turned to new chapters of her life.
“I never got around to having kids and I was thinking about how I could make a difference to just one child,” Catherine said.
“I thought one would be best,” she added with a laugh. “Otherwise, I would probably end up like the Old Lady Who Lived in the Shoe kind of thing with lots of kids.”
Being single and working full-time Catherine felt, to begin with at least, that being a permanent foster carer might not be practical and signed up to offer respite care.
“So, I did disability respite for a little while just to see how it went and it wasn’t long until I was ready to take the plunge,” she said. “Because I’m an educator with a special needs background, I decided to combine the two.
“And when I was ready, I wanted to start with a baby because to me, the longer they’re with me, the more I thought I could support someone.”
In 2016 she became foster mum to a six-month-old baby boy with developmental delays who she knew could thrive with her support.
Despite the challenges and “tricky moments”, Catherine said she didn’t regret a single thing and even though it took some changes and adaptations to her life, she knew that would be the case heading into it.
“I think it’s definitely worth doing if you’re in a position to do that, because there’s plenty of kids who need that home environment and someone who can advocate and get the interventions early.”
With ongoing support from the AnglicareSA Foster Care team, Catherine is now working towards being recognised as a specialist carer to continue to support the growth and development of her foster son, now aged 8.
She has also helped him to understand that he has two families – birth parents and siblings elsewhere – while Catherine is his everyday mum who is always there.
“He calls it ‘this family and that family’, and he know he is part of both and is trying to incorporate the two.
“As he has gotten older and he has engaged with the interventions and supports, I have seen how he now understand concepts better and he comes up with questions or details you weren’t expecting.
“It’s really quite nice and the way he sees our family unit at home – it’s just lovely.”
AnglicareSA is South Australia’s largest foster care provider, if you are interested in find out more about becoming a carer, please visit anglicaresa.com.au/foster-care/