Sydney couple’s journey to adopt three siblings in foster care

In NSW, only 140 adoptions took place last year from children in the care of the state and siblings are hardest to place. But for one Sydney couple, taking on three kids was the best thing they ever did.

Roberston's Family

Father’s Day for Paul Robertson was “suburban but sensational” but the extraordinary thing about it was Paul and wife Veronica became a family of five overnight.

Four years ago the lives of these carefree urban professionals changed thanks to adoption.

“We struggled to have children the original way — we had a couple of cycles of IVF and had no success and we realised if we persevered and were successful we’d probably only have one child,” the 47-year-old said.

“But we wanted a bigger family, so when IVF wasn’t successful we started to look at something else and stumbled on the Barnardos website.”

One of the biggest challenges is to find foster carers who are willing to adopt are sibling groups, but this is something the Robertsons wanted.

“We were drawn into the story of the sibling groups that really struggle to find a forever home,” he said.

“It is a big decision, it is a big commitment and we were under no illusions but it has brought so much joy to our lives, it’s has been an amazing journey.”

And the benefits were easy to see last Sunday. The three kids made cards that said: “I love you with all my heart”, painted a banner and took him out for breakfast.

At lunchtime Paul’s father came over and the children played in their Clemton Park backyard and Anabelle, the youngest, played Twist And Shout by The Beatles on the guitar.

“We were quite selfish really, “ Mrs Robertson, 40 said.

“We wanted a family and so it was: ‘Let’s find some kids who need parents, we need kids and we’ll make a family together’.

“We wanted a big family and we thought there are lots of sibling groups out there and so many of them get split up, which is devastating to think about.”

When Fraizer, 7, Preston, 5 and Anabelle, 4 came into their lives, the kids had already spent two years of their young lives in a temporary foster home for their own safety.

“We realised it was a massive undertaking and a massive commitment, but it was a very exciting period of our lives,” she said.

For Mr Robertson, the first touching moment came just a few days after the children came into their care. Fraizer had a croup-like cough and Mr Robertson took him to hospital.

“I spent four hours one-on-one with him in the ED and he put his arm around me and we were very close, it was a pivotal moment and he realised: ‘I can trust this guy’. I think he just really wanted a dad,” he said.

The Robertsons have now permanently adopted the children and are advocates for sibling adoption.

“We are thinking of starting a foundation on sibling adoption. It’s important these kids stay together,” Mr Robertson said.

According to the latest dashboard from Family and Community Services there were 167,436 children in NSW reported at risk of significant harm.

There are 7567 children in foster care and, alarmingly, 106 children are living in motels and serviced apartments due to a lack of carers.

Only 140 adoptions took place last year from children in the care of the state.

“It’s the physically and sexually abused children that make the front page but the majority of children who come into care have been chronically neglected over a long period of time,” Barnardos CEO Deidre Cheers said.

“Foster care is more than a bed, it is parenting and security, children who do not have security will not achieve a good life outcome.

“We want children to thrive. We have sibling groups, it is harder to place them but not impossible. (The Robertsons) they are heroes, real heroes.”

Mr Robertson has changed his career to accommodate the kids.

“I was an accountant for KPMG and I now work from home in a home business, so it was a catalyst for me,” he said.

“Can I give what I want to give to these children and continue my corporate career and fortunately my wife had started up a marketing business at home and she needed to be supported, so I now work from home and can do drop-offs and pick-ups and all that and be there for the children.

“Fatherhood is so much fun, I love it, I’ve never looked back.

“I love my kids so much and my eldest child Fraizer says numerous times a day: ‘I love you dad’ and they are all loving kids.”

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