When the eight-week old newborn Leonie was caring for in hospital suddenly had to be flown to Melbourne for emergency surgery, the Lutheran Care Foster Carer did not hesitate to jump on the Medivac flight with the baby girl, providing much-needed comfort during a lengthy stay interstate.
What is normally a five-hour operation took 11 hours due to complexities, but Leonie stayed with the baby all day during the post operation healing and recovery. In this instance, Leonie’s comfort was of upmost importance, as it was the only thing that helped calm the tiny infant down.
This little girl, who was born with Down syndrome and a heart condition, is Leonie’s 77th Foster Carer placement. Together with her husband Rod, they provide emergency and short-term care for Lutheran Care.
Leonie was Lutheran Care’s very first approved Foster Carer in 2009 and she has always gone above and beyond in her dedication to fostering.
As a retired midwife, Leonie brings a unique and specialist skillset to fostering in caring for infants with medical complexities. Because of her unique professional background, she is an incredible asset to infant care and can hold high-level conversations with nursing and hospital staff.
Before arriving in Melbourne, Leonie visited the baby twice a day in hospital in Adelaide. She spent this time building a strong relationship to ensure the little one knew someone consistent was loving and caring for her. Because of her commitment to establish familiarity and trust, it brought comfort to a sick child when it was needed most.
Though fostering is a rewarding experience, it is not without its challenges. Leonie says sometimes it is difficult when friends and people in the community question why she cares so much for a child that is not biologically hers.
“It’s been really hard, people just don’t get it,” Leonie says.
“But I couldn’t love them (the children) more.”
Rod’s commitment to fostering is also unwavering. Thanks to support from the Department for Child Protection, Rod was able to fly over and be with Leonie. Through their own generosity, the pair were happy to make arrangements as required and cover the gap in travel expenses to make it work.
Leonie’s Case Worker at Lutheran Care says this particular story warms your heart, but also breaks it at the same time.
“It’s pretty emotional,” the case worker says.
“The little girl deserves to have a life and it’s amazing to know that someone is in her corner during some really tough days. Supporting a carer who is so obviously dedicated to this role…it’s so much more than a job.”
The infant has now been reunified with their family and Leonie generously continues to support them.