Fostering a little hope
NANETTE and Stan Sandy's decision to bring three neglected brothers into their home four years ago turned their lives upside-down and presented them with mountainous hurdles – but the selfless couple wouldn't have it any other way.
Parents to five of their own children and grandparents to seven, the decision to become foster parents was not an easy one for them to make, with people telling them they were mad and should be enjoying alone time.
As if three young boys weren't enough, the family soon took on a further challenge of a two-day-old baby and welcomed him into their family.
But the loving Warwick couple said the sacrifices they have made are worth the chance to provide the siblings – now aged between 16 months and eight years – with a happy, loving home and a sense of security.
“They're only little kids and they don't ask to be put through what they have had to go through,” she said.
Mrs Sandy said the children settled in quite easily to their new environment, despite being separated from their mother.
“I thought – like any kids – they would cry for their mother but they didn't,” she said.
Mr and Mrs Sandy said they have watched the boys transform from frightened, timid boys to more confident and secure.
“You try to put them back on track and show them how to be a normal family. You just do your best every day – it's all you can do,” Mrs Sandy said.
“I get a lot of joy out of it to just see them be happy and settled and secure. They can just be children without fear.”
Mr Sandy said foster children often come into their new homes with emotional baggage and foster parents helped replace the negative experiences with positive ones.
“All you can do for the kids is help the bad memories fade,” he said.
Mrs Sandy said the boys are very affectionate and take pleasure in the simple things in life, such as riding a horse or a swim at the pool.
The couple's 18-year-old daughter Crystal was just 14 when the three boys came into her home and she now looks to them as her little brothers.
“At first I wanted them to adopt a girl so I would get a sister – but I still didn't get one,” she said.
Despite being the only girl in a family of eight brothers, Crystal says she loves spoiling her little brothers and describes the youngest of the four as “the apple of dad's eye”.
Mr and Mrs Sandy's four boys have filled their home but the couple said there is still a huge need for carers to foster needy children.