“You need to give your whole heart”
For single mum, Linh, becoming a foster carer has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.
“It’s a chance to love a child. I feel good that I’m helping someone’s child they cannot bring up. I can provide [them with] a family.”
Linh became a foster carer in 2011. She already had an interest in caring for children, with a Certificate 3 in childcare, and she thought her young son, now a teenager, would benefit from having the company of other children at home.
Linh’s caring journey began with a couple of children on short-term placements, then, an opportunity for long-term care came up. Linh has raised six-year-old Ben since he was eight months old.
“He’s happy all the time. I’ve [brought] him up and I give him love and he loves me as well, like his own family.”
In matching Linh and Ben, SSI considered their shared Vietnamese cultural heritage so that Linh could help to maintain Ben’s connection to his family’s ethnicity and language. These connections help children to develop their sense of belonging and identity.
Through Linh’s influence, Ben understands Vietnamese (although he prefers to answer in English), and is very familiar with Vietnamese food through home cooking and restaurants. Linh and the boys also socialise with others in the Vietnamese community.
“Children need to know where they come from and what nationality and family background they belong to,” she says.
Linh is also part of SSI’s Vietnamese Carers Support Group.
“Through foster care I have made some friends. We go on picnics together and share our experiences.”
Asked what qualities you need to have as a carer, Linh says it is all about a meaningful commitment of love.
“You need to give your whole heart [to the foster child], like you would to your own child. You need to be there for them in happy and sad times,” she says.
This is something Linh embodies, talking fondly of Ben and her hopes for his future.
“I hope he completes all of his study up to Year 12. He’s very friendly and open, he’s not shy. He can make friends easily. If he doesn’t go to uni, I can see him as a salesperson or in customer service in the bank because he likes talking to people. That would be the perfect job for him!” she says with a delighted laugh.
*Names have been changed and stock image used.