At the age of 11, Bella’s wish to become an older sibling came true
Bella remembers the day that her parents Sandra and Rick called a family meeting. They explained to Bella and her brother Josh, 13, that because there were kids out there who needed love and support, they were thinking about becoming a foster family.
Bella: I was very excited because they were two little boys. I had been hoping to have a little girl placed with us, but I was more than happy to play cars with the boys, and my brother and I set up tracks with Matchbox cars because even though it was quite late when they arrived back at our house, we wanted them to have some fun before they went to bed. I was very excited to have these two little kids in our home that I could play with and love for the time being, while they were in our care.
Mercy Community, to Bella: If someone you knew had parents who were considering fostering, what advice would you give?
Bella: I’d recommend that they have conversations as a family all together, because that’s what we did a few times before we signed up. We had multiple family meetings to discuss our feelings and our emotions and ways that we could help make others more comfortable or other things that we had questions about. And we’d take a break and come back a few weeks later together and discuss it again. Then you have time to think about and talk about any concerns you have, like questions you’d want to raise with your family first about scenarios that might happen. As long as your family is all on board and as long as everyone in your family is emotionally ready for it, then I’d definitely recommend it because it’s something that I’m so glad I was a part of, growing up. It was an amazing experience.
Mercy Community: How did you feel when each foster care placement would end?
As a way of dealing with saying goodbye, Mum and I would get busy with the bedroom. We’d come home and strip the bed, then pick out a new set of gender-neutral sheets. We would set the room up to be like a spare room until we got a call. When we did get the next call, we’d go back and set the room up with sheets that I thought the child might like, and get some clothes out that might fit the child. That’s how mum kept me up to date with all the changes and passed on the information that she was allowed to tell me about each child, before they arrived. There were things she couldn’t tell me, but there were things she could, such as their gender, their age and what they liked. It made me feel more empowered.
Sandra, Bella’s mum: Even though when children leave us it’s sad for us, that doesn’t mean it’s sad for them. When you see them with family that have approval and who have taken the steps to be approved, it’s a happy ending for them. You have to look past your own grief and see what’s in it for them.
You remember their personalities more than anything else. We can tell you every single name of every single child who’s been through this house.
There was one little girl we had here who said ‘flutterby’ instead of ‘butterfly’ and Bella did that as well. So, you lock all those memories away as part of you and that’s something you’ve collected, and you have ownership of that. You don’t have ownership of the child, but you have ownership of that memory you have with them.
Mercy Community: Do you think you’d want to be a foster carer one day?
Bella: It’s definitely something I want to do down the track. I’ve completed my Certificate and my Diploma in early childhood education, and I’m currently studying my Bachelor of early childhood education and Bachelor of primary education.
Sandra: You’re so young, you need to live first.
For now, Bella is happy to pursue her career in childhood education, knowing that someday she might follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a foster carer too.