CHILDREN’S GROWTH REWARD ENOUGH
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.
Foster carers Ben and Ria Merito.