Wayne and Kelly Szymanowicz were determined to have children of their own.
But when things didn’t happen naturally, and it was discovered that Ms Szymanowicz had a rare allergy to IVF treatment, they explored other avenues.
The Mount Druitt couple decided to become foster carers, and for the last 13 years they’ve been the permanent parents of three much-loved children.
“We looked at adoption, but there’s a long waiting list and not many kids come up for adoption these days,” Ms Szymanowicz said.
“So we looked at fostering because we knew there was a big need.”
It’s Foster Carer’s Week this week, and the Szymanowiczs are urging others to open their hearts, and their doors, to vulnerable children.
More than 300 children are waiting to find a home in NSW, according to Uniting, which has placed 380 kids into foster care in the state.
It wasn’t the Szymanowicz’s first choice, but family history meant fostering was an easy one.
“Both my grandmothers were fostered and my mother was fostered as well,” Ms Szymanowicz said.
“It became life-threatening to keep going with IVF.
“We thought, ‘Why keep going when there’s so many kids that need a home?’.”
“It was our third choice, but in hindsight it should have been our first.”
New foster carers are not alone in what can be a tough adjustment for parents, foster children as well as biological children already in the family.
Groups including Uniting offer training before and after children arrive, while a case worker will walk alongside new carers.
For the Szymanowiczs the transition hasn’t been without its challenges, but they say the rewards have more than made up for that.
“We’ve got our family,” Ms Szymanowicz said.
“That’s what we wanted more than anything and that’s what we’ve got.”