GISELLE Thornton dispels preconceptions about who makes a typical foster parent, having taken on the role more than 18 years ago as an unemployed single mother.
Giselle has cared for more than 40 children and she cannot imagine a time when children will not be a part of her life.
The Darlington playgroup leader and her husband are providing long-term care for their second ‘daughter’, an athletic 11-year-old who came to them as a four-month-old baby.
“She arrived with two very young sisters as a ‘weekend placement’,” Giselle said.
“These beautiful little girls had been apprehended from a violent and drug-fuelled environment, and they stayed with us until the end of the week.
“I was working full-time at that point and we couldn’t keep all three.
“Thankfully, the sisters were found homes nearby and she stayed on with us and because her sisters live close by, they get together often and stay over.”
Giselle was in her mid-twenties when she spotted a leaflet about foster care.
Giselle specified she was only able to care for children aged up to two years.
“My own daughter was four years old at the time and I felt I knew that age group, I knew (what) to expect.”
Giselle attended a DCP information night about emergency, respite and short-term care before registering for a training program held over several weekends.
“When I started fostering, I just told my daughter, ‘We’re going to look after some children’; I didn’t make a big deal about it.
“She was only four at the time and she simply accepted it, though undoubtedly there would have been times when we had little ones in need of more emotional support and she would have thought ‘I want my mum back’.
“The care you provide is short-term and I believe all children have the right to thrive. You can’t rescue these children but you can provide positive experiences by simply giving them food, security and love.
“You hope happy childhood memories are the ones they carry with them through life.”
Giselle said being part of a large family had influenced her decision to foster, coupled with a desire to make a difference, no matter how small.
“I would say to anyone thinking about fostering, if you have the right circumstances, it’s a rewarding experience that will enrich your life.
“I didn’t have any expectations of any of the children I cared for; fostering is about what you can give them.”
DCP and Family Support are currently seeking individuals and families east of Perth to consider a foster carer role for children.
DCP Midland director Kylie Noakes said carers are needed from as far north as Bindoon and as far south as Pickering Brook to care for children and young people in need.
“Foster carers are everyday people who enjoy looking after children, and will be willing to care for them on occasional weekends or short and long periods of time,” she said.
Carers can be single women or men, married or same-sex couples, with or without children, or young or old.