For William Kutana, there was never a question he would one day become a parent. Having grown up in a big family environment, with cousins, aunts and uncles surrounding him, in addition to his own siblings, he had a deep affection for the warmth, support and sense of belonging that family provides; a nourishing presence that creates a strong sense of place and home.
When he moved to Australia, William looked into foster care as a way to engage with being a parent and being in a child’s life. William knew that there were a growing number of children who needed care, and he wanted to step up to the plate. A few years ago William began his foster care journey, and has been a part of the lives of many children ever since.
He began with fostering two siblings in long-term care, a boy aged eleven, and a girl aged five.
“I was really nervous meeting them for the first time because I didn’t know what to expect, but as soon as I met these kids, just at a playground, there was an instant connection, and we were so comfortable with each other,” says William.
Being able to provide the children in his care with a stable, supporting and steady environment has been hugely rewarding for William and knowing that the children have flourished and been able to come into their own has made the experience life changing.
“When you can build and grow their trust, children can slowly learn to let their guard down and just be kids. One of the children I have fostered always played the role of caretaker and caregiver for his siblings, but once he saw that there was a foster carer who would be able to take that place and that responsibility, he was able to be a child again, play sports, go to the skatepark and enjoy an active social life. He has a full life now and loves his time in the cadets and in teams because he has a chance to let go,” he adds.
Since his long-term placements arrived in his care, William has become an active supporter of and participant in out-of-home care. He estimates that through long and short-term stays, weekend visits and respite care, he has been able to be a part of the lives of over a dozen kids. William is looking forward to continuing his foster care journey, and sees his family as being unique, flexible and ever growing, as he maintains contact with kids who stayed with him over the years.
According to My Forever Family NSW, a government-funded program operated by Adopt Change to recruit, support, train and advocate for foster and kinship carers, guardians and adoptive parents from out-of-home care across the state, there currently aren’t enough carers to meet the needs of vulnerable children in NSW. There are many different types of care options available, from emergency and respite care for just a couple of days, through to short and medium-term care until a child is able to safely return to their family of origin or move to a suitable permanent placement, as well as long-term care.
For William, what matters is providing a sense of belonging that can make anyone feel like they have a home, no matter where they are.
This year at Mardi Gras, William’s hope is to encourage other LGBTQIA+ people, whether single or partnered, to consider welcoming a child into their lives through out-of-home care, and sharing some of that sense of belonging that has meant so much to the community itself.
Interested in My Forever Family NSW? Visit us at our website: www.myforeverfamily.org.au