Megan and Gavin Rosser reckon their family is happier whenever they share their home with a foster baby. It is obvious that love is in greater supply than tidiness in their cosy house in Lugarno in Sydney’s south, where stuff spills out of drawers and onto the floors amid the hurly-burly of family life.
“I always say we smile more when we’ve got a baby in the house because you’re always smiling at the baby to make them smile back, so that makes us happier,” says Megan, sitting on the couch with her husband Gavin, who is senior minister at Lugarno Anglican Church.
I remember that night just thinking and praying ‘how do you look after orphans?’ No one really comes to your door and says ‘here’s a child, can you take care of this one?’ If you’re going to look after an orphan you need to be a foster carer, really.
Megan, who is a full-time mother to Grace, 7, Hosanna, 10, Ben, 12, and Sam, 13, decided she wanted to foster a baby when Grace turned two. She realised she didn’t want to have another child but she wasn’t ready to go back to work and she liked having a baby in the house.
It took a few months for Gavin to get on board with the idea.
“My initial reaction was not very positive really,” confesses Gavin.
“I thought it sounded a bit strange, a bit weird, to take care of someone else’s kids.
“Some months later we were in a Bible study looking at the book of James and there’s a verse: ‘Religion that is pure and faultless is this: look after orphans and widows in their distress.’ I remember that night just thinking and praying ‘how do you look after orphans?’ No one really comes to your door and says ‘here’s a child, can you take care of this one?’ If you’re going to look after an orphan you need to be a foster carer, really. I feel like God put that on my heart.”
Over the past 3½ years the Rosser family have fostered six babies through Anglicare, all short-term placements until an order is made for permanent care. They talked to Eternity about their experiences to support Foster Care Week from 11-17 September.
At the moment they have a beautiful six-month-old boy and the love they shower on him is obvious when Megan brings him downstairs after his nap and the girls come home from school.
Because the family only take temporary placements, saying goodbye is challenging for all concerned. It’s hard for the baby because the attachment process is broken. And it’s hard on the family because the babies just start getting playful when they leave and the children have to start at the newborn stage again.
“We’re not feeling like we want to stop, but every time they leave I think, ‘maybe we should just keep this one.’ But we haven’t had that option yet anyway because they’ve all gone to relatives or with a sibling,” says Megan.
Although the Rosser children have always helped out, even the boys, at first they didn’t understand the fostering concept.
“They would ask ‘Where are his parents? Are they sick? Or did they die?’ They thought ‘why else would a mother or a father not have their own children?’ When they were younger we said ‘they are kind of sick, they are not able to look after them,’ and now as they get older the older ones understand that there are other issues.”
“For our children it shows them faith in action because it’s something they can contribute to.”
The main issue with the baby they have now was his constant crying during his first few weeks from the pain of two hernias associated with his premature birth.
“After he had the second hernia repaired – new baby,” says Megan with relief.
“Within a week he was looking at us and smiling,” adds Gavin.
Hosanna bounces in after having afternoon tea and takes the smiling blonde-haired baby on her lap and tickles his tummy.
“I like babies because they’re cute and they’re fun and they make me happy,” she says.
“I was doing peekaboo with (the previous baby) and even now I’m doing peekaboo with him because I haven’t got out of the habit,” she adds, laughing at herself.
Gavin and Megan believe it is important for Christian couples to be foster carers as a way of living out God’s love for the fatherless and so give foster children a good foundation to believe in a loving Father God.
“Our motives for doing it are to share our love, share our faith, share our family.”
Gavin adds that while they receive lots of praise for their open-heartedness, it pales in comparison with what God has done for them through his son.
“Being Christian keeps us humble in the sense that you think God’s accepted us into his family, and so for us to do this for someone else is a small reflection of what he’s done for us, which is so much greater. When you put it in that context it doesn’t seem as though we are doing something so wonderful.”
“The other thing is for our children it shows them faith in action because it’s something they can contribute to,” adds Megan.
“They help look after the kids, they share their parents and they share their house, so they get to say ‘we’ve got a really good life, we’ve got a family that loves us, a safe home, so we can share that with other people.’”
Megan always takes photos and writes a little life story for her foster baby, creating a record of their life that they take with them to their next placement “so there are no blank spots.”
Both Gavin and Megan found the training from Anglicare very helpful and say they always have access to a caseworker whenever they need support. They also receive great support from their church family.
“We’ve got a home and we’re sharing with somebody that doesn’t have one, so we’re putting into practice what God says about caring for people,” says Megan.
Some prayer points to help
Please pray that more children will spend their formative years with parents who love them and teach them that God loves them.