Being a single, gay man, Jason knew his dream of becoming a dad wasn’t going to be easy. Then at age 34 he took a leap of faith and began the rigorous assessment process to become a foster carer. Once approved, he didn’t have to wait long.
Weekends to every day of the week
But it didn’t all happen at once. Siblings Robert and Mikaela came to Jason for short periods in a respite care arrangement over eight months before entering full-time care with him in December last year. For Mikaela, who had experienced multiple placements and suffered from anxiety, it was critical to find a stable arrangement quickly.
‘The respite care proved to be an important transition time for everyone,’ says Jason. ‘The children gradually began to develop trust in me, which really helped with the transition.’
Calming right down
‘When the Robert and Mikaela first came to me full-time, the relationship between Mikaela and Robert was pretty explosive’ says Jason. ‘Mikaela had a desperate need for affection from Robert, but Robert is a different personality. He likes his own space and would push Mikaela away when she was too much in his face. This would make her angry and the situation would spiral out of control from there.’
By talking to each child separately, Jason was able to show Robert how to take deep breaths while counting to 5 and thinking about whether it was really worth becoming upset about the situation. Mikaela would need a different strategy as she found it difficult to listen calmly and tended talk over the top of Jason. ‘With Mikaela, it was a case of giving her something to read or offering a calming activity to manage her emotions’ explains Jason.
Loving every minute
Jason knew becoming a foster carer would involve challenges but found the online training he completed during the foster care assessment process, along with a personal behaviour management plan for each child, very helpful.
The biggest challenges for Jason have been the kind of things most working parents have to deal with, like arranging after school activities and keeping both children occupied at the same time when they wanted different things.
‘I have family close by who help out and my employer is also very supportive,’ says Jason. ‘I admit that sometimes it has felt as if I were getting nowhere. The Challenge Community Services caseworker has been fantastic and always there when I needed her. Now that the children are both more settled, I feel as though we have turned a major corner.’
For any single person or couple wanting to care for a child, Jason urges them to ‘just do it’. ‘Don’t let other people who don’t understand talk you out of it,’ Jason confirms. ‘It can feel like an enormous step, but it’s an extraordinary feeling to give a child in need a loving, safe and stable home. As a foster carer, my life has so much more meaning and I love every minute of it. I wouldn’t change a thing.’
If you’ve got a place in your home and in your heart to foster a child, we would love to hear from you.
Click here to download a copy of our Foster Carer’s Handbook to find out more about becoming a foster carer with Challenge.