Thirteen years fostering children has taught Lyn and Roy Matthews a thing or two about parenthood.
From delighting in the seemingly small and sometimes silly things, to endless patience and love, the couple knows what it takes to raise a happy child.
“It’s about giving them safety, because that makes all the difference,’’ says Lyn.
“And love and life experiences,’’ adds Roy.
Together, they share this knowledge and wisdom with the birth families of the children they nurture as reunification foster carers at Centacare.
The Matthews have fostered 20 children, for various lengths of time, including long-term, short-term and respite placements.
“It’s taught me to appreciate the little things in life; the things that you don’t often realise,’’ says Lyn.
“You tell a child to go to bed and they do, but they don’t put their pyjamas on because they don’t know any different.
“Or you teach them to catch and throw a ball for the first time, or help a teenager to use a knife and fork. It’s all those simple things in life that we help with, things that most of us take for granted.’’
When it comes to balancing the demands of being a reunification carer, Lyn lives by a simply philosophy: “Hope for the best and make peace with the rest.
“We do the best we can do for the child and then we hope everyone else does their bit too.’’
She adds that the role has given her a different view of motherhood: `It’s taught me that a mother is not necessarily a biological mother; that different people can mother children.
“As the saying goes, it takes a community to raise a child, and it really is very much like that.’’