You don’t have to be a superhero to be a foster parent, you just need compassion and patience.
Nathan and Emma Heckendorf are ordinary parents, bringing up three sons (aged 13, 9 and 3) on the family farm who have found room in their home and hearts for children who do not have the same opportunities.
“We were initially concerned with how our family would cope with foster caring, but it has been amazing,” Emma said.
“Our sons love the fact we are helping children in need and they like making new friends.
“They’ve had to learn that each child has different needs and that sometimes we have to ‘parent’ them differently.
“Living on a farm has the great advantage of freedom and relaxation.
“If a child is frustrated they can get out and go for a run, swim, ride bikes or play with the animals.”
Often, foster children haven’t experienced ‘ordinary’ family life.
What might seem boring and normal to you, could be a whole new experience for a disadvantaged child.
When fostering, you have a choice of care that you can provide.
Nathan and Emma have provided short-term, respite and long-term placement for more than 10 children.
Currently, the family is hosting an 11-year-old girl on a short-term placement, and provide respite care for a six-year-old boy and two sisters aged five and two.
“Providing respite care is great, because you see the child as often as is needed to give their regular carer a break,” Emma said.
“You and the children know they are coming back, and when, so you can plan ahead for activities and look forward to seeing each other.”
Emma and Nathan care for children who have demonstrated challenging behaviours and regularly attend training to assist them in dealing with difficult situations.
“Our agency Challenge Foster Care is always there for us if needed. We know we can contact Challenge at any time, and they provide us with training and other services such as counselling if we need it.”
“Carers are desperately needed so if you have the room, time, patience, and love to give just do it,” Emma said. “You won’t regret it and these children need you.”
Challenge Foster Care currently has 33 foster care households and 41 children in care in Maitland.
They urgently need more carers for:
- Sibling groups of 3 or more children
- Children with higher needs (children with a disability, ADHD and autism)
- Children aged 11 to 17.
If you think you have what it takes to be a foster care superhero email Challenge Foster Care firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1800 084 954.