The wonderful SAF team
“SAF provided support when we needed it, friends listened, laughed and cried with us and also became Benjy’s friends”
Age of child: 10 years old
Duration of foster care: 2014 to present
Felicity* & her husband have been carers for 5 years. They have 3 biological children, and care for Benjy* who has special needs.
We have been caring for Benjy for 5 and a half years now. Looking back, this was a big journey with many highs and lows and with lots of opportunities to support, care, serve, grow and learn something about ourselves.
Benjy came to us when he was five years old. It was clear at the time that he had special needs as he was quite delayed in many areas of his development. But no one knew exactly what was going on. So, we started this journey by taking things as they were and helping Benjy to settle into our family. We could quickly see that even though he had significant delays in some areas he had amazing skills in other areas. And he had such a sweet, caring personality! I can’t remember how many times he reminded me not to forget my bag or found things for us we were looking for in our house!
Benjy went slowly from being non-verbal to being able to say one-word sentences and a while after that 2- or 3-word sentences. We were over the moon when he said his first 3-word sentences! This took a lot of effort from many people involved: therapists, teachers, case workers and of course us. At times we felt overwhelmed as there seemed to be so many areas that needed to be addressed: behaviour, speech delay, diet, social skills, personal care skills. The list was long! We learnt that these things take time.
Over the years we went through a seemingly endless series of assessments, therapies, specialist visits and meetings. These things all took up time and energy. There were setbacks and there were days when we felt it was too much. But then, sometimes unexpectedly, there were the breakthroughs. Benjy started reading – something we thought he might never be able to do. He learnt swimming, become a Lego champion and was selected to play soccer in the PSSA (inter-school sports competition). He developed an interest in cooking and he enjoys making meals and cakes with us.
As carers we learnt to ask for support, and we experienced support from different people. SAF provided support when we needed it, friends listened, laughed and cried with us and also became Benjy’s friends. We have amazing respite carers who support us and we could not have done it without them. Looking back, we are very grateful for having the opportunity to have Benjy in our lives. He has helped us grow in patience, understanding and flexibility and it was a joy to see him grow too.
We believe that it is a great privilege to be able to make a difference in someone’s life and we feel very blessed to have Benjy in our family.
*Names & picture have been changed to protect privacy