Woonona woman able to adopt thanks to government reforms

Forever together: Woonona mum Jodie Chessor with her boys Paddy, 2, and Braxton, 4. ''They're little class clowns, they make me laugh all the time,'' she said.

Forever together: Woonona mum Jodie Chessor with her boys Paddy, 2, and Braxton, 4. ''They're little class clowns, they make me laugh all the time,'' she said.

Woonona woman Jodie Chessor was only too happy to provide two young brothers with a “forever family” late last year.

The single mother had been the long-term foster carer for Braxton – now four – since he was 11 months old. She later also took on the care of his younger brother Paddy, now two.

Last November she was able to fulfill a long-held dream to have a family of her own when she adopted both boys.

‘’It’s so special to know it’s forever – even the boys at two and four say to me ‘we’re a forever family now’,’’ she said. ‘’And to be able to keep two siblings together is just beautiful.’’

Adoptions from foster care are becoming more common – with a record 127 adoptions across the state in the last financial year. Barnardos Australia was responsible for a third of those.

‘’I joined Barnardos several years ago because I wanted to adopt, to become a mum,’’ Ms Chessor said. ‘’I’d spent 20 years in childcare looking after other people’s children, but the chance to have my own was something I’d desperately wanted.

‘’I did the training and then sat on the waiting list for two years before I got the call to say they had a little boy needing care, and that was Braxton – then I was asked to take care of Paddy too.

‘’The great thing about Barnardos is that they don’t discriminate – you can be single, married, in a same-sex relationship.’’

Barnardos Find A Family Illawarra program manager Deborah Willick said the organisation was committed to open adoption as it offered children a ‘’sense of security, permanence and stability’’.

‘’We believe open adoption should be encouraged for children in foster care, whom the court has ruled cannot safely return home,’’ Ms Willick said.

‘’Research indicates that life outcomes are significantly greater when children have a stable and secure home in which to grow and develop.’’

Last month NSW Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward attributed the rise in adoptions from foster care to government reforms in the sector.

We believe open adoption should be encouraged for children in foster care. - Deborah Willick, Barnardos Illawarra

‘’We hope to continue to see a change in attitude towards open adoption,’’ Ms Goward said.

An information evening on fostering and adoption will be held by Barnardos at 21 Addison Street, Shellharbour, from 6-8pm on October 18 – call 4297 0670 for details.

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