Fos­ter­ing hope

CHIL­DREN’S GROWTH REWARD ENOUGH

Wanneroo Weekender - - News - Lucy Jarvis

BEN and Ria Mer­ito have al­ready seen re­mark­able growth in the three girls who came into their care about 18 months ago.

The Ocean Reef cou­ple shared their ex­pe­ri­ences as fos­ter car­ers ahead of an in­for­ma­tion ses­sion in Joon­dalup next week, where they will talk to peo­ple in­ter­ested in be­com­ing car­ers.

They be­came car­ers early last year and looked af­ter some boys short term be­fore the three sis­ters ar­rived for a week­end of emer­gency care. That turned into longterm care and the girls, now aged six, five and three, are still liv­ing with them full-time.

“The high­lights are see­ing their de­vel­op­ment,” Mr Mer­ito said.

They have been able to give the girls many first ex­pe­ri­ences, such as go­ing to the beach and school.

Mr Mer­ito said it was re­ward­ing watch­ing them grow, and the girls could now talk, helped by speech ther­a­pists. One of the girls re­cently won a cross coun­try race, and this month, the fam­ily will do the City to Surf 12km run to­gether.

“When they first came to us, one of the things that they loved to do was run and that’s what we all do as a fam­ily,” Mr Mer­ito said.

He is a teacher and Mrs Mer­ito is a nurse, so both had seen chil­dren ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­culty through their work and felt they could do some­thing to help.

“We just de­cided that fos­ter­ing was a path that we would like to do,” he said. “We didn’t know a lot about fos­ter­ing be­fore go­ing to an in­for­ma­tion ses­sion our­selves.

“We just saw a need; we had a gut feel­ing that drove us to go and find out a bit more.”

From the day the girls ar­rived, they have called their car­ers “aunty and un­cle” and formed an im­me­di­ate at­tach­ment to them.

“The chal­lenge is know­ing what they have been through, see­ing what they have been through,” Mrs Mer­ito said.

“That’s also the mo­ti­va­tion to keep go­ing, even when it’s tough.

“It’s not re­ally about us; it’s the chil­dren that are vul­ner­a­ble.

“We fo­cus on the need and what we can do ev­ery day for them.

“It doesn’t mat­ter if they are our kids or not our kids.”

The cou­ple said while they were busy run­ning three busi­nesses and man­ag­ing four prop­er­ties, they hadn’t found it dif­fi­cult to make time for the chil­dren.

They said the sup­port pro­vided by the Depart­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties (for­merly Depart­ment of Child Pro­tec­tion and Fam­ily Sup­port) in­cluded on­go­ing train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, fol­low-ups and de­vel­op­ment ther­apy ser­vices for the girls.

The depart­ment will host the in­for­ma­tion ses­sion on Wed­nes­day, Au­gust 23, 6-8pm at 8 Davidson Ter­race in Joon­dalup. Visit www. cpfs.wa.gov.au or call 1800 182 178.

Pic­ture: Martin Ken­nealey d472751

Fos­ter car­ers Ben and Ria Mer­ito.

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