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New laws in NSW mean it's now easier for foster carers to adopt children like Tilly.

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.

adoption laws for foster carers
“As far as I’m concerned it’s a win-win situation. These children have a stable home and I get to be a mum.” (Image: Supplied)

“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.

LISTEN: Parenting superstars Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo cover what parents are talking about this week on This Glorious Mess (post continues after audio...)

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Though devastated, her journey led her onto the idea of becoming a foster mum, something she has never looked back on.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s a win-win situation. These children have a stable home and I get to be a mum,” says the single mum.

“I’ve fostered 15 children in total and I am now applying to adopt my second child. Uniting has been great in helping me to do this and I feel these children have completed me.”

Amanda says Tilly’s personality is as radiant as her fiery red hair and she loves nothing more than to dress up as her favourite characters and dance around the house.

“I could have adopted Tilly years ago but how would I have financially supported her if I lost my allowance?" (Image: Supplied)

“She’s very cheeky and her passion is infectious. She’s always able to encourage others to get on board and it’s common for her to convince her foster brother Cooper to join in."

"I’m always coming into the room to see them dressed as mermaids, princesses or fairies. Her absolute favourite character is Elsa from Frozen.”

When the youngster is not dressing up, she’s always got time for a cuddle with her mum.

In 2010 there were 46 out-of-home adoptions in NSW, and only three in the rest of the country. In 2015 there were 68 in NSW and only two in the rest of the country. The change in law hopes to raise this figures significantly.

Uniting has a history of providing out-of-home care in NSW for more than 100 years. To find out more about our services please their website.

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