When Nathan and Michelle were approached to provide emergency accommodation for a 15-year-old boy, the couple knew it was mean to be.

Married with three children of their own, they had often discussed adding to their brood through fostering, but for a range of reasons, it hadn’t happened.

“We were approached by a youth leader to take *Bradley for a night but it was during the Christmas holidays so we asked if he could continue to stay with us,” Michelle explained. “That set the wheels in motion.”

Six months on, the family of five is now a family of six – and while it hasn’t been all smooth sailing, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“There have been challenges, for sure, for all of us,” Nathan said. “There are things he is learning about us and we are learning about him. Boundaries get tested but it’s been a good experience so far.

“We just continue to reassure him no matter where you are or what you have done you will always have a safe space to return to.”

Nathan and Michelle, now a part of Junction’s Family Based Care program, say they have felt nothing but support and positivity through their fostering experience so far.

“Our friends and family were really accepting. A lot of times the first question asked was what he needed or wanted for Christmas,” Michelle said. “With Junction, the communication is great. We get quick responses and even random messages checking on us. It gives it a real person touch and makes us feel appreciated.

“It’s about keeping the care of the child as a central focus, maintaining their safety but identifying what is important for them and their development into successful, productive and progressive members of a positive and growing society.”

Michelle said the experience was also having a positive impact on their biological children.

“The children are more aware of their place in the family, more aware of the importance of family and each other,” she said.

“There is also more structure as everyone pitches in to do chores. We involve the kids more in cooking. There has even been more family discussion, reminiscing, talking of holidays and events.”

“However, the greatest reward so far has been watching the children develop their own individual bonds with him, accepting him fully as a brother.

“Watching his growth has been good, but also our kids are growing too. It’s a good thing to watch them all be beautiful, caring and supportive, loving people.”

To those considering foster caring, Nathan and Michelle insist that there is no need to ‘have all the answers’.

“He comes to us when he has a problem at school, or if he needs to get something off his chest. Sometimes we can help solve the challenge or assist him but other times we can’t wave a wand and make it better. It’s just about accepting that, as you do with parenting any young person and letting them know you are there for them.

“He has really found his niche within the family dynamics.

“Home for him now is where we are.”

*Not his real name.


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