TONY, BELLE & MARIE STORY

The pitter patter of tiny feet. Squeals of delight and the crunch of wrapping paper. These are the sounds the Schulz family can’t wait to hear on Christmas morning.

The festive season has been made even brighter for the household of four, which last month became five, when they opened their hearts and home to a child under guardianship.

Marie, her husband Tony, and daughters Jade and Belle welcomed a girl, aged 18 months, on November 18 – the day before South Australia was ‘locked down’ amid the threat of a second COVID wave.

“We spent time each day over about six weeks to eight weeks getting to know the little one, settling her and getting to know her routine,” Marie, a Nurse Manager at a GP Practice in Adelaide’s north said.

“It’s been quite a smooth transition I think.

“We did all the training and were really ready. The first time we met her was at a playground. She wasn’t shy, which really helped.”

Belle, 17, said her new sister had “come out of her shell”.

“She’s very cheeky when you get to know her. She knows all our names and she’s talking more now.

“I’ve never seen my Dad with a younger child – and the fact that he can tell his dad jokes all over again, he’s loving that.”

Marie said the little girl was adjusting “really well, sleeping through the night and eating different foods.”

“We’ve got a cubby for her and a swing set. She just loves getting outside and playing,” she said. “Through fostering, you are giving a child an opportunity to grow up in a family where they are loved and safe and nurtured.”

It seems the benefits are mutual.

“I think it (foster caring) has strengthened the bonds between us all,” Marie added. “My patients say I smile a lot more now – there’s a twinkle in my eye.”

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