As a kid, I was forever asking my parents for a baby brother. Being the youngest in a family with two older sisters, I couldn’t seem to get the idea of having a little human to play with out of my head.
But the answer from my mum would always be the same: “No more babies, Dad and I are done.” Fair enough, I would think. My mum became a mother when she had my older sister at the age of 20 and had me, the baby of the family, at 29.
Still, while I wouldn’t trade my older sisters for anything, I always wondered what it would have been like if I had a sibling closer to my age. Someone who I could play with, someone who I could boss around, someone who I could rumble with and make mud pies in the backyard out of dirt with (as was a particularly favoured activity of mine).
That’s why when I spoke to 17-year-old Esther Williams, I could relate so deeply to the fact that she, along with her two biological brothers, Elias, 13 and Aaron, 11, also always wanted a little brother or sister.
Esther (left) always wanted a younger sibling. Images: supplied, iStock.
This idea of a younger sibling became the springboard for a conversation that the Williams' children had with their mum, Christina, and dad, Kayode almost two years ago. Esther recalls being around 14 or 15 years old when the suggestion of becoming a foster family first took place.
“We talked about it before and we were really keen on it,” she said. “We thought that the idea of fostering would be good because we could invite other little kids into our home and it would be really rewarding as a family.”
The more the young aspiring actress thought about fostering, the more she became convinced that it was the perfect idea. “I thought it would be nice as a family to help these kids. We were all really excited to be bringing these children home,” she explained.
With the whole family in agreement, the Williams fostered two children. They welcomed a boy aged seven and a girl aged four into their Sydney home to become a family of seven. As can be expected, Esther admits it did take some getting used to at the start.
“It was challenging because at first you’re just living with your family and then there’s two other children,” Esther shared. “They came from a different home so there were a few things we all had to adjust to; we wanted to make sure that they would feel welcome. That’s something you learn as a family but it was really rewarding and I just see them as part of our family now.”
"I just see them as part of our family now.” Image: iStock.
After two years together, Esther has an amazing relationship with her foster brother and sister, “I love reading to them and I put them to bed sometimes. I like to do my foster sister’s hair and take them to the park. Fostering is really good,” she said.
While the 17-year-old loves the company of her foster brother and sister, she says her favourite part of being a foster sister is how rewarding the experience is. “To see how far they’ve come since day one and just to see them grow is really nice. It just makes you feel really happy to know that you’ve made a difference,” she explained.
Esther feels her experience of being in a foster family has above all, taught her patience. “I’ve also learned that everyone is different and it gives you a greater understanding of other people and how to love them all and make everyone happy. I think I’ve taught them to listen and to be more confident in themselves and to know that they are loved,” Esther added.
Esther has had such a wonderful experience being part of a foster family that she’s even decided that when she’s old enough, she herself would like to foster. “It’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about doing. It’s a whole different thing, it’s really rewarding. When I'm an adult I want my family to go through the same thing because I’ve had such a good experience myself,” she shared.
The high school student couldn’t speak highly enough of the foster care system in NSW, describing the foster care case workers she has encountered from Stretch-A-Family as ‘welcoming’ and ‘nice’.
“We as a family really appreciate them. Since day one we’ve felt really welcome and the whole system is like a family to us. I don’t think we’ve ever really felt alone in this journey. They are people that we can really rely on for advice,” she shared.
Esther says she would encourage anyone who has the means to become a foster carer to do so. She believes it makes you feel as though everyone belongs and brings you closer together as a family.
When I asked Esther if she was happy with the decision her parents made to foster children, she simply had this to say: “Definitely, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
NSW needs to attract 660 new carers in the next year across all types of care: emergency, respite and short term carers able to support restoration of children to their birth families, carers wishing to progress to guardianship or open adoption, Aboriginal and multi-cultural carers.
For more information please visit: www.fosteringnsw.com.au or call 1800 236 783.