Same-sex foster care
Can you invite just one child into your family?
It’s 5.30pm on Thursday at the Davis-Bowles home — any family’s busiest time when they have young children.
Felicity picked up Mia from after-school care and Liana from childcare on her way home from work while Melissa cooked up a delicious aromatic curry for the family. The girls both love their curries and sit down eagerly to eat dinner. Felicity and Melissa take turns in feeding their five-month-old little baby girl, Annabel, who in between mouthfuls smiles widely and stares lovingly at her mums and her big sisters.
“We had each thought that one day we would like to become foster carers and when we knew that our relationship was solid we started to consider our options. After a lot of careful consideration we decided that we wanted to offer a home and family to a foster child”. They researched the local foster care agencies and chose Marymead to support them through their foster care assessment and training process. “We just found that Marymead were the most welcoming and accepting of our family”, says Felicity.
Melissa and Felicity have been fortunate in their foster care journey. They wanted to offer children a life-long home and family, but began by committing themselves to offering children a home when they were first removed from their birth family and were in crisis. They welcomed two beautiful young girls, Mia and Liana then aged 3 and 2 respectively, into their family.
They ensured the children maintained regular contact with their parents while the courts decided whether they could return home. “It was a really difficult time “, says Melissa, “as the girls’ behaviour would settle and then escalate at regular intervals as they transitioned between us and their birth parents. It must have been such a confusing time for them”.
The courts decided that the girls’ birth family were not able to provide a safe home for the girls and placed them both in foster care until their 18th birthdays. Felicity and Melissa were delighted to welcome Liana and Mia into their ‘forever family’, while they remained committed to ensuring the girls maintain a relationship with their birth parents by seeing them every few months.
Since then, the couple have successfully undergone IVF and have added another beautiful little girl to the family — now a happy and settled family of five girls — smiling and laughing together. Felicity points out that it isn’t all smiles as “we have good days and bad days just like any family”.
There are over 600 children currently in Out of Home Care in Canberra and many more need a home. Can you help just one? The needs of children in care are diverse and we need a broad range of carers who can meet those needs — singles, couples, families with children already, employed or staying at home. What we do require is stability, a suitable criminal and
child-safety history and a commitment to providing a child or young person with a safe and loving family for anything from a week, 18 years or occasional weekends for planned respite.
When asked what message the couple would like to send to the community, Felicity answered, “Think very carefully before you decide to become a foster carer, children coming in to care have already been let down so you need you to be committed, but if you do think it is right for you don’t let your sexuality hold you back”.