Wrapping her arms around her little girl, Amanda Stephens can’t believe she can finally call her a daughter.
Despite fostering Matilda, also known as Tilly, through Uniting since she was just eight days old, it has been a long road to adoption and one that has only become possible with a change in NSW law.
Amanda’s pioneering case came after changes in July meant carers would not lose allowances offered to them as foster carers, when they became adoptive parents.
“I could have adopted Tilly years ago but how would I have financially supported her if I lost my allowance? I can’t have a job as well as look after foster children, It would be too difficult,” explains Amanda, 50, of Wauchope, NSW.
“Tilly has additional needs as many of the foster children I look after do. Caring for her comes with steep costs for therapy and it’s a lifetime of care – not just for a month or two.”
Instead Amanda, who receives $571 a fortnight in Carers Allowance for five-year-old Tilly, waited until the change in law to process her adoption.
“My case worker told me mine was a pioneering case. I’m not sure if we were the first to officially go through after the change in the law but it was certainly up there. Now I feel I can offer Tilly her ‘forever home’ and keep us all financially afloat too.”
Amanda previously worked for 20 years for the NSW Ambulance Service, five of those as an intensive care paramedic.
But at the age of 40 she suffered a back injury and had to retire. She had longed all her life to become a mum, but tests revealed she would not be able to carry her own child.
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