We love everything about fostering

Posted on 19 June 2017 by Jan Phyland

When people picture their retirement, it rarely features ferrying a 10-year-old to weekly netball, swimming and dance activities.

But that is just what life looks like for Malua Bay couple, Elizabeth and Bernard Basevi, both in their 60s. And they couldn’t be happier.

For the past two years, retired nurse, Elizabeth and former school teacher, Bernard, have been foster carers to Emily* - a role they say has changed their lives.

“Emily has transformed our lives for the better,” says Elizabeth. “We were already enjoying our retirement before she arrived, but now we have a real purpose in life. We have a little girl that we want to bring up as best we can.”

Admitting a retirement spent enjoying leisurely days and annual cruise holidays might have been nice, Elizabeth says she wouldn’t swap it for the role she now has of caring for Emily and the joy she gets in seeing the once-shy, uncertain child who couldn’t sleep without a light on or music playing, blossom into the happy, secure girl she is today.

Foster care had always been on Elizabeth and Bernard’s radar – it was simply a matter of timing. With three adult children no longer living at home, two years ago the couple applied to become foster carers with MacKillop Family Services. It was a decision motivated by a desire to give back and to offer a safe and nurturing home to a child in need.

While Emily is in permanent care with the couple, their home has also been a welcoming retreat for children requiring respite care.

Elizabeth says fostering has enriched her life in many unexpected ways.

“When Bernard and I first talked about fostering we knew it needed to be a commitment from both us. That has happened and I believe we are closer than ever as a couple as a result of it.”

Fostering has also provided Elizabeth with another first – raising a girl. With three adult sons, Emily offers a female perspective that Elizabeth hasn’t experienced until now, even if it means being told that shoes sometimes don’t match or outfits need to be changed!

While friends think Emily is lucky to have settled with such a doting couple, Elizabeth believes the opposite is true: “We’re the lucky ones. Emily is such a loving little girl who we just adore. We love everything about fostering. Never think you’re too old, or that it’s too hard to take on a difficult child. They’re not difficult – they’re just normal kids.”

And despite the prospect of looming teenage years, Elizabeth says she isn’t too daunted: “It frightens me a little bit,” she laughs, “but we’ll just take things as they come. I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

*Not her real name