Carmen and Nick Gould talk about realities of being foster carers

LOVE: Foster Care Week recognises carers like Carmen and Nick Gould of Parkes, pictured with their children Asher, Jonah, Elliot and Elias. Photo: CONTRIBUTED
LOVE: Foster Care Week recognises carers like Carmen and Nick Gould of Parkes, pictured with their children Asher, Jonah, Elliot and Elias. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

Carmen Gould was only a teenager when she knew one day she wanted to be a foster carer.

When she met her now-husband Nick they talked about becoming carers when their future children grew up.

"We both just thought that's what we were meant to do," Ms Gould said.

"When our youngest was about six months I felt really strongly that God was saying to us to do foster care now, rather than waiting until our six-month-old was older so we started the process and by the time our youngest was two we were registered."

Last week was Foster Care Week which acknowledges and celebrates the role of foster carers in our community.

When the first child was left in their care, Ms Gould said she and her husband were "terrified".

"I think we were more scared than he was and he was pretty scared. It was very frightening. Even now, every time a child comes I think 'we are not qualified to do this' but we get through it," she said.

In the past two years they've looked after 14 kids. For the majority of this year the couple has had nine kids in their house, including their four biological children.

"One of my friends said they thought about doing it because it must feel good and I said 'actually, it doesn't feel that good when the kids are there'. It feels scary and it feels hard and it feels stressful," Ms Gould said.

"We mostly do short term care while we find somewhere else for the kids to go. But once we see them happy and settled somewhere, it does feel good then.

"Even just the little things. We had a little boy who took a little while to warm up to us and the first time he held my hand when we walked him into daycare I could've burst. It was so lovely."

The best part of it was getting to know the children, the foster carer said.

The family has some great support behind them, Ms Gould said, from a caseworker at the Department of Communities and Justice who is a phone call away when a vent is needed, to family members, friends and members of the Parkes community who drop over food and supplies.

Ms Gould said you weren't required to be a perfect parent to be a carer, just willing to keep trying when you make mistakes.

"I would say that there are always excuses not to do it and you've just got to ignore them and do it anyway. There are children waiting for you. There are 350 homes needed right now just in NSW," she said.

"It is hard but loving the kids is not hard at all."

The NSW Government's Communities and Justice website contains information for individuals, couples and families wanting to know about becoming a foster carer, types of foster care, how to apply, what to expect and more.

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This story Why you don't need to be a 'perfect' parent to be a foster carer like Carmen and Nick first appeared on Parkes Champion-Post.