Colleen and Dan's story: The gift of family
When Colleen and her husband, Dan, were unable to have children themselves, they saw it as an opportunity for them to give back by fostering kids who needed a home.
“We just wanted to be parents, and it wasn’t happening naturally for us. That sort of led us to the path that parenting was something that we desperately wanted for ourselves,” Colleen says.
“We looked into fostering and decided that was going to be our future. We jumped in, and we never looked back.”
They’ve been fostering for ten years now, offering all types of care to over 30 kids, from short-term emergency stays and respite care to long-term placements.
The couple knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but it was worth the effort.
“We’ve had a few children with disabilities live with us. It can be challenging, but the most rewarding thing for me is to see them rise above. We see children achieving more than we could have ever hope for.”
“We’ve been through a lot of heartaches. But for us, it was that determination that we wanted to be carers, and we just needed to figure out what that journey meant for us.”
Colleen believes that it’s important that children and young people feel a sense of belonging and self-worth, in order to thrive.
“It’s empowering for a child to believe that they’re worthy of happiness and love, no matter where they are”, she said as her husband nodded in agreement.
“Just seeing them grow and knowing we were making such a difference really did give us this sense of fulfilment that we’re able to love children and nurture them.”
Dan continues by saying how incredible it is to be carers, and the rewarding feeling of being a dad.
“The first time I was called ‘Dad’ was a beautiful feeling, and you never get sick of it. Just to see a smile on their face because they’ve come from such dark pasts. There’s nothing better than coming home from work, and you see a child running towards you. That’s awesome!”
With four boys in their care, the couple spoke with Wesley Dalmar about caring for another child. This time, a baby girl.
“She was seven days old with medical conditions, and we were facing our own challenges,” Colleen recalls.
“But she’s a shining example. Now, three and half years later, and we’re doing ballet, tap and jazz classes. I couldn’t imagine our lives without our fifth child. And you know, she has every male in the house wrapped around her little finger.”
When asked to offer any advice to people interested in foster care, Dan said, “Just give it a go! That’s what we did, and we made the decision and committed to it. We haven’t regretted it one single day.”
Colleen also added, “We knew we had love to give, and we had a home to share. Once we started, and we could see the difference we were making for these children, it’s just so fulfilling that we realised that this is our calling.”