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At 22 years old, Wendy (50) was diagnosed with endometriosis. She was told there was little to no chance that she’ll ever have her own children.

For years, she continued to pursue pregnancy – but longing for a miracle began to seriously affect her mental health.

When her GP eventually suggested becoming a foster carer, it marked the start of an incredible journey to motherhood.

“At first I struggled to understand ‘why me?’ – I’m one of six siblings, and all of them have children,” she said.

“But knowing that I couldn’t have my own children has prompted me to give everything.”

Wendy has now been a foster carer with AnglicareSA for 16 years – over this time caring for dozens of children through emergency, short-term and long-term placements.

She soon realised that the word ‘mother’ meant so much more than being a parent to a biological child.

“Providing love and care to children who need it – it’s definitely filled a gap in my heart, and I love every single one of them,” she said.

“It was never even a question. I always knew that one day I would be a mum.”

Nothing was ever stopping Wendy from becoming the best mum she could possibly be.

Wendy currently cares for three children; she has two siblings aged four and two, while her 14-year-old has been with her since seven weeks old.

“My heart breaks for my eldest – her intellectual and maturity levels are far below her years, which makes things tough when it comes to socialising and school,” she said.

“It can be a challenge – I’m her Mum, her Dad and her best friend.

Wendy’s not afraid to meet birth families and considers forming a strong bond as vital contributions to children’s development and upbringing.

Even when family reunification is not possible at the time, Wendy always encourages birth parents to be involved as “one family”.

“It can be traumatic to have a child removed from you – so I do whatever I can to ensure the birth parents are involved in an appropriate way,” she said.

“I say to them: let’s work together as a team to try and get your child back to you, and if that’s not going to happen, let me try and help you maintain your relationship with your child so that it’s a positive one.

“I’m here to look after the children – care for them, love them, nurture them… but it doesn’t mean I don’t want contact with birth parents.”

Wendy’s home is full of almost two decades of foster care memories.

Initially the thought of becoming a foster carer and handling the commitment of caring for children for various lengths of time frightened Wendy.

While the toughest challenge remains having to let go at times, Wendy said the biggest reward is helping children to reunify with family and watching them go on to lead good lives.

“If a child is placed with me that can go back to a biological family – that ultimately makes me feel happy,” she said.

“I still to this day catch up with family and children who I’ve cared for, and I know I’ll always be involved in their lives.”

If Wendy had a bigger house she would love to care for more children in need.

Wendy encourages those who are willing and have the space, time and resources, to open their arms to children needing a loving home.

“I wish I did it 20 years before I did – but I was going through a bit of self-denial through not being able to have my own children,” she said.

“If I had my time again and knew what it meant to be a foster carer now, I wouldn’t have had any hesitations.”

If you are considering becoming a foster carer like Wendy, we would love to hear from you.

For more information on becoming a foster carer call (08) 8131 3456.