4 Nov 2021

It’s a family affair

For Genevieve, one of the greatest parts of being a foster carer is the relationships she has maintained with children, even after they have returned to their birth families.

Genevieve (52) and Daniel Pitcher (60) have been general Foster Carers for more than seven years, with their two daughters (18 and 19), and a six-month-old granddaughter growing up with foster siblings.

The rewards
For Genevieve, one of the greatest parts of being a foster carer is the relationships she has maintained with children, even after they have returned to their birth families.
“The best part is when I get a phone call from Brent*, who I had from the age of four months to three and a half years and is now 12, asking to stay for the weekend. I have maintained close contact with Brent and his biological family since then.”
Brent* and his little sister Jodie* stay with the Pitchers on school holidays and have done so since they returned to their family many years ago. 
“We know that, as a family, we have helped reunite Brent with his family, while still also helping him be the most amazing young man,” Genevieve said.
“I can see him growing up, and although loving him was very easy, letting him go was hard.  We must give credit to his dad, that he still allows us to be a part of Brent’s world. Brent’s Dad and his new family have embraced us and we will always be part of their lives.”
The challenges
Genevieve says the most challenging thing about being a carer can be the impact it has had on her biological children.
“Foster caring does impact on our family and our children but I’m very lucky and blessed that my girls support what we are doing as a family, she said.”
“In fact, my 19-year-old daughter and I did a ‘Who’s in charge’ eight-week training course together to help us understand how best to build healthy relationships with children dealing with past trauma.
“This was an awesome and practical course and I was so proud that my daughter wanted to do it with me.
“The foster kids are a part of our family for the rest of their lives. I still have the original photos of my first children in care with me up on my wall, and explain to the kids that once their photo goes up on my wall it never comes down; they are a part of our family.
“The kids become aunties and uncles, brothers and sisters. They become grandchildren to my mum; nieces and nephews to my siblings; brothers and sisters to my children.
The supports
“Although I have my Certificate III in Child Care, Disability and Aged Care, and I am always open to doing more training, you definitely need that extra support that Churches of Christ can provide.
“I love the workers at our local office, I am always popping in and we have our support worker, Jackie, who is always consistently there.
“She knows me and the kids in my care. She can be the go between for us and the department to follow up anything we need or any concerns we have.
“Just knowing I can call her and bounce any issues I have or just for somebody to talk to. It really makes a difference.
Making a difference
“Sometimes, we are lucky we get to see these children again. Sometimes, the parents allow that, but quite often that’s not the case. This is the heartache of our family and the reality of being a foster carer,” she said. 
“It is a reality that some foster children will come out of their time in foster care stronger, and knowing they are loved and have attachments to the foster families. But sometimes the trauma they have experienced will take a lifetime of therapy to mend. 
“My hope is that we help a little bit by giving them love, structure and a sense of family.
“Even though our house can be loud and a little crazy, and filled with lots of laughter, crying and tantrums, with toys from one end of the house to the other, it is full of our hearts and love for the kids.” 
For more information about becoming a foster or kinship carer, please visit: www.ittakesacommunity.com.au