THE hardest part about being a foster carer is saying goodbye to the kids when they leave.
And let's not pretend the rest of the job is easy.
Foster mum to five children under four years of age, Donella, put her hand up to foster six years ago.
"We have special memories of each and every one of our babies and they will stay with us for the rest of our lives," she said.
"It is sad to see them leave us but it is a happy time, knowing that they are with their family again and all is well and they can continue to grow into wonderful young people.
"We have been fortunate enough to still be a part of some of our kiddies' lives once they return home. They are like our own grandkids."
Donella and her husband reared six children of their own before deciding to foster.
"We've got number 30 grandchild coming up and I'm actually a great grandmother at 47," she said.
"I worked in day care for 20 years.
"I have a good friend who has been a carer for over 25 years and, seeing how much she enjoyed doing it and seeing how happy her little foster kiddies were, I knew that I had a lot to give a child who wasn't able to be with their own parent.
"When our youngest finished her senior schooling, we announced to our grown adult kids and grandkiddies that we were going to foster and give a child less fortunate than themselves a loving home.
"Over the last six years we have had 18 kiddies in our home - not all at once.
"Our kiddies are all under four years of age - they keep me active and young.
"People say to us and the kiddies that they are lucky to have us but we always say we have been the lucky ones."
The need for foster carers is great. To find out how to become one, phone Foundations Care on 1300 395 005 or visit foundcarekids.org.au.
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