One hundred foster children
For the past 40 plus years, Cheryl Brown and her husband Arthur have fostered so many children they have lost count, “I couldn’t tell you the exact number, but it would be more than one hundred. We stopped counting after a while”.
The Browns, who live in Airport West, decided to become foster carers after being unable to have biological children of their own.
They have cared for babies with high medical needs and helped work with birth parents toward restoration of the child back into their care.
“For the first 10 years we cared for newborn babies, the majority with mothers who were young and whose families did not know they were pregnant. These days the children come from mothers who have drug and alcohol addictions, and mental illness”, said Cheryl.
Currently Cheryl and Arthur foster two children through Baptcare – Megan* who is 11 with cerebral palsy who came into her care at three months old and Anna* who is 20, whom she has cared for since she was nine months old.
“Megan came to us as a newborn and was nasal gastric fed until she was three. She had significant brain damage and there were times where we didn’t think she would live. She has certainly come a long way. She is a happy, strong willed, determined little girl who goes to the local school. She is always willing to give something a try”.
“We also have Anna who is in our permanent care. Her birth mother had mental illness and there were a lot of years where her family were adamant that she should not be in foster care. After her birth mother passed away when she was 11, her birth father finally agreed that being in foster care was the best place for her,” said Cheryl.
Cheryl says being a foster carer is highly rewarding.
“Several years ago we had a little girl stay with us for three years. She came to us when she was four months old and she couldn’t even lift her head up. She was severely neglected and often left in a caravan on a double bed with a bottle of milk beside her while her birth parents left her alone for hours on end and she cried and cried. It took her months to be able to look anyone in the eye. It’s being able to help children like this that makes what we do as foster carers so important”.
The pair also have two adopted children, Michael, aged 44 and Patrick, who sadly died in a car accident when he was 16, who they fostered when they were newborns.
This week (September 9-15) is Foster Care Week.
Baptcare celebrates and appreciates our pool of amazing foster carers and the invaluable contribution they are making to the lives of vulnerable children and young people and the community as a whole.
People interested in becoming a foster carer with Baptcare can phone 13 22 78 or visit www.baptcare.org.au
*names changed to protect privacy.