Karyn and Ron

A life-changing experience — Karyn and Ron's story

Every child deserves a chance — a chance at education, a roof over their heads, clothes on their back, shoes on their feet and food in their belly.

Karyn leapt into the world of foster caring more than 14 years ago, inspired by her sister's involvement in opening her home to kids in need. With just a small insight into the needs of vulnerable children in her community, she quickly realised foster caring would become an integral part of her everyday life.

“There are so many kids who need help out there,” Karyn says.

“They just need somewhere to go and someone to love them — to show them trust and give them ambition and drive for the future.

“Kids need to be kids. So many children coming into care are aware of adult issues,” she says. “But you only get one chance — one chance to have a childhood.”

Four years after taking in her first foster child, Karyn met her partner Ron. Together they own a local landscaping and gardening business, but nothing has proven more rewarding than the partnership they've undertaken on the foster carer journey.

Although he was initially apprehensive, Ron saw the amazing difference Karyn was making in children's lives and was inspired to get involved.

“I didn't know if I had it in me, and that's the honest truth,” Ron says. “But I stepped into the pool and thought: 'game on — let's try it'.

“When I had my initial interview, the first question they asked was 'why do you want to become a foster carer?' And I remember to this day what I said.

“'Because every child deserves a chance — a chance at education, a roof over their heads, clothes on their back, shoes on their feet and food in their belly. It's something I had all my life — so it was a given for me — but stepping into this world, not every child has that.”

More than a decade on, Karyn and Ron could not imagine their lives any differently, and have shared many heart-warming experiences as foster carers.

“Foster caring is the most life-changing process that I've ever gone through, and I'd never go back — it's my passion,” Karyn says.

“I love every aspect of what I do for these kids. When things get to the worst of the worst, and you think everything you're doing is wrong and that you're failing miserably, and the next day you get up and go, 'oh my god' — the child is now holding my hand, saying thank you and is no longer fearful, you know you've done it right and that it's all been worthwhile.

“It's something you can't express in words — you have to do it to feel it. It's a number of small, little steps that turn out to be just enormous for the child. And then you think: I did that.”

And while it can be challenging to let go and help reunite the kids with their biological families, the couple knows that's just part of the job.

“When they go home, it's bittersweet,” Karyn says.

“You know going home is where the kids want to go, and that mum and dad want them back, so that's always your direction.

“It is sad, and it is heartbreaking, but you just have to know that's what's best for the child. You've changed their life and that's what you take away from it. It's lifelong what you've done.”

Karyn and Ron take particular inspiration from their first foster child — a challenging placement because of the child's difficult behavioural issues, but truly one of the most rewarding experiences the couple has shared by overcoming those issues, as a family.

“Seeing our first child — who's still with us — progress from day one to right now — it's worlds apart,” remarks Ron.

Karyn agrees.

“Our foster child keeps proving everyone wrong and could teach some adults really important lessons about changing your attitude and just continually trying to move forward,” she says.

“What an inspiration.”

The couple has not been alone on their journey, with an amazing support team surrounding them since the beginning.

“There's a lot of people around us — therapists, the department, social workers, friends and family,” Ron says.

“The agencies offer really good support and there's always more training you can do,” Karyn adds.

“You also receive financial assistance tailored to the age of the child and complexity of their needs for supplies like food and clothing, and there's other avenues for additional medical needs and therapies if required.”

Ron's advice for anyone considering becoming a foster carer is: If you think you can do it — do it.

“But it has to be from the heart,” he says.

“You'll see great highs and lows, but how it all balances out makes the trip interesting and makes it all worthwhile.”

Karyn is determined to get more carers on board for what she describes as the experience of a lifetime.

“The rewards from foster caring one-hundred-million times outweigh any of the negatives. Foster caring is not something you will ever regret doing — it's life-changing. I've learned so many more ways to look at the world from my little people,” she says.

Karyn and Ron

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Call Queensland Foster and Kinship Care
1300 550 877

Foster caring is not something you will ever regret doing — it's life-changing.