With a background in childcare, boundless enthusiasm and, most importantly, a big heart, Garth Saville knew he would have a lot to give as a parent. So, four years ago, side by side with his partner, Gavin, the couple welcomed a foster child into their lives and have never looked back.
“We met him and we knew straight away,” says Garth. “We had another couple of meet and greets to make sure we were comfortable because it had to be right. It had to be right for everyone,” he emphasises.
Being instantly taken by the boisterous, warm and cheeky 5-year-old* the Fostering Young Lives team matched them with, Garth and Gavin began their rewarding journey as his long-term foster parents.
The process was surprisingly straightforward
Taking a young person who needs safety and stability into your care is a big decision, one that the pair didn’t take lightly. When they became certain they could provide for a child, Garth was still doubtful whether, as a same-sex couple in their early 50s, they’d even be eligible. Dialling our Fostering Young Lives team, Garth braced himself to jump through some elaborate hoops, but was instead met with encouragement.
“The Benevolent Society were very easy to work with,” he enthuses. “We were invited to an information night, went to that, and then the rest of it was like… yes. We’re in!”
Every step of the way, staff were available to answer their questions, alleviate their concerns and guide them through everything that would help a child flourish under their roof. Tara, their current Child & Family Practitioner, says this support is trauma-informed and moulded to the unique needs of the individual or family unit.
“The support looks different from every carer household and every child. It can be practical, on the phone support, where we talk through different issues, or it can involve coming out for home visits. It can be helping them find a different doctor, occupational therapist, or other specialist and coming up with a plan that’s best for the child,” she explains.
Garth has since made it his mission to correct other people’s misconceptions around the barriers of becoming a foster carer. He’s passionate about getting more people who are curious about it involved.
“I've had so many other people going, ‘Oh, but you need to own your own home to be a foster parent. You need to have lots and lots of money in the bank.’ It's not the case. You can do it as long as you can provide a loving home,” he says.
“An amazing gift”
Now 9-years-old, the foster child has a support network that extends beyond Garth and Gavin. He’s treasured by the people in their wider circle, too.
“Becoming foster carers hasn’t only enriched our lives but also the lives of our extended family and friends. It's just been an amazing gift,” Garth reflects warmly.
Spend five minutes in the company of these two big personalities and you’ll get why Garth teasingly says that his foster kid is his “mini-me”. And with Gavin’s calmer disposition balancing them out, the three of them make up a lively, warm family.
“Our household is fun, loving and very dynamic. I knew I'd be a great parent because I've got so much love to give and we’ve become so close. I just could not imagine my life without him,” Garth says.
Thank you to Garth, Gavin and all of our registered foster carers at The Benevolent Society, your contributions are invaluable!
If you’d like more information about the steps to become a foster carer for The Benevolent Society, click here.
* The child has been kept anonymous for the purpose of this article