Michael and Scott

It's changed our lives — Michael and Scott’s story

The most important thing you can offer a foster child is a place of safety, a place of routine and a place of love. 

Michael and Scott had always considered having children. But with the encouragement of Michael’s aunty — a former foster carer — they decided, as an LGBTIQ+ couple, helping kids in need was the right pathway for them.

“We started with respite care just to test the waters and see whether foster caring was something we were interested in or capable of doing. After the initial experience, our comfort levels improved, and we went full-time.”

But, naturally, the decision wasn’t without its initial doubts.

“There was definitely some apprehension regarding my parenting skills because I’d never had kids before. So, it was extremely daunting to begin with,” recalls Scott.

“You go through doubts: ‘what will the kid think of me? Will I do everything right? What if I make a mistake?’. It’s that fear of the unknown — you don’t really know until you experience it,” he says.

Foster caring is not always easy, but training and support is provided. It’s also important to lean on your existing networks.

“We’re very lucky to have good friends and family who are extremely supportive,” Michael says.

“There are times where we’ve needed help — especially with Scott being a shift worker — where I’ve had multiple commitments at once. I can’t be everywhere!” he exclaims.

“But our support network is excited to help out, and Child Safety and our care agency have been really good with giving us support.”

“It really does take a village to raise a child — it’s not just that one person,” he says.

“It’s okay to not have all the answers,” Scott agrees.

“The department and associated organisations put us through training before we were officially ticked off as foster carers, and that essentially covered things like managing trauma and specific behavioural concerns, and helping us to understand and deal with those,” Scott says.

“All in all, the process took a few months and there were a number of interviews that were required. The interviews were quite candid, and they do probe reasonably deeply to get a full appreciation as to your suitability as a carer.”

Financial support is also available to carers to ensure they have the economic means to be able to support the children in their care.

“Our experience is that anything the kids need that has been to their benefit, Child Safety has been very forthcoming with providing financial support — if they’ve needed medical attention or therapies, Child Safety has always provided that,” Michael notes.

In the three years Michael and Scott have been foster carers, they’ve seen tremendous growth in the children they’ve welcomed into their home.

“I have definitely seen a change in the kids’ behaviours, from the time they arrived to now,” Scott says.

“They’re comfortable, they’re happy and they have a routine. We’ve seen an improvement with their education, reading and mathematics — and behaviourally, they’re much more settled now.

“Having them talk about how happy they are, seeing them enjoying life and enjoying school, and all of those little moments are really rewarding. It’s nice to see a positive change in someone, and it changes you positively as well,” he says.

And it’s that sometimes forgotten element of personal growth which has Michael hooked.

“If I had to sum up foster caring in one word, it would be: ‘learning’. Every day I learn something new, and I love to learn and discover new things. It’s made me grow so much as a person, and discover things I never knew were possible,” Michael says.

“Foster caring has really changed my perspective on life, families and the community. A lot of us don’t really consider what people are going through, and when you actually have some insight as to the trauma a lot of kids are experiencing, you start to understand how we get problems happening in our society.”

While the couple’s lives have changed substantially, they have recognised the importance of taking time out for themselves or to socialise.

“We have friends over, we do social things, we go on outings — we do all the things we used to with some minor adjustments because now, we have kids to care for,” Michael says.

The couple believe the secret to caring for their two full-time foster children along with the kids they have cared for on a short-term basis, comes down to love, warmth and stability.

“If you can provide a place where the kids can come home to and feel comfortable within themselves, knowing they’ve got a regular meal on the table and people who have unconditional love for them, I believe that is the foundation to a happy kids upbringing,” Scott says.

And when it comes to re-unification, the couple are always fully supportive of what’s in the best interest for the kids in their care.

“The idea of the kids becoming a permanent fixture in the household is a lovely idea, however it’s not the prime reason for doing this,” Michael says. “If the best thing for the children is to go back to their home, then that’s the best thing for them.” 

All in all, Michael and Scott’s lives have truly been enriched by the love and care they’ve given and received throughout their journey, which is something they would never change.

“I’m certainly glad I became a foster carer — the experience has been incredibly rewarding. To develop a relationship with a little person, and to feel you can contribute somewhat to their upbringing and helping them find a happy path in life is so rewarding,” Scott says.

Michael explains that foster caring is an amazing experience and something he doesn’t think you can really replace with anything else.

“When you have a child who has experienced hardship just give you a hug and show you in their way, their appreciation for stability and support, you think, why didn’t I do this before? Why has it taken me so long to decide to go on this journey?” Michael says.

Michael and Scott