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Heritage: supporting and unifying after decades

Margaret and her two sisters were admitted to St Vincent de Paul Girls’ Orphanage in South Melbourne in 1947 when they were seven, eight and nine years old. She never saw her parents again.

When Margaret was 12 years old, she was sent to the Stella Maris Convent of Mercy in Geelong where she would finish her schooling. After graduating, Margaret became a teacher.

Her and her husband created a family of five children, and a loving and beautiful life.

Over the next 30 years, Margaret and her family welcomed over 100 children into their home as foster carers with the Sisters of St Joseph.

Margaret enquired to care when her children were young but was told she had to wait until her youngest child had turned four before she was ‘allowed’ to start foster caring. Once they hit this milestone, Margaret and her family's foster caring journey would flourish.

There would rarely be gaps in her family’s time caring. As soon as one child would leave, another would be placed in their care. There was always another child on the waiting list.

At the times when there were gaps though, Margaret reflects that there was something missing.

“I didn’t ever want a break (from caring). It often felt like, in between, that you were missing something. Though we had breaks every now, a few weeks or a day or so, I was always ready for the next opportunity to foster.” Margaret on the gaps between fostering

This year our Heritage team reconnected Margaret with a woman, Kate, who she cared for as a baby. Kate wanted to thank Margaret for caring for her until she was able to return to her family.

It was the first time Margaret had met one of the children she had cared for as an adult. She recognised Kate straight away and enjoyed sharing many memories from Kate’s time with her family.

They looked through photos and as Margaret reminisced, it was clear that the whole family had delighted in caring for baby Kate and loved having her in their family.

“My family enjoyed it, particularly my children. They were very good with (Kate), old enough to play with her, to cart her round,” Margaret recalls with joy.

Kate and Margaret plan to meet again, this time with Margaret’s daughter.

Stories like Kate and Margaret’s show the impact of a positive and caring environment. The lasting effects that a foster caring environment can have, the memories and bonds formed show that, through pure kindness, foster carers can change lives.

If you are considering becoming a foster carer or would simply like more information, click the button below.