Adam and Jodie's story
Adam: I felt like I was on a rollercoaster, constantly running under the fear of the fact that FACS may take your children. There's nothing that can stir more emotion than your children.
Jodie: I first met the boys when they were living with their mum. Sadly, she was unwell and not able to look after the boys. We moved them to their auntie. The boys were doing really well and it would have been a easy just to leave them living with their auntie. But, ethically, I believed that all kids should be given the opportunity to live with their parents, if possible. So I decided to dig a little deeper to try and find Adam.
Adam: I got that phone call from FACS and it just completely changed everything.
Jodie: I think it's important for the caseworkers to not rely on a single story. I'd heard a bit about Adam from family members. I wanted to know what had been going on for him. He told me that he had a lot of mental health issues that he needed to work on. He talked about the volatile relationship between him and the boys' mother. And he felt, at the time, that he needed to move away to create some peace for the boys. What might have been seen as abandonment was actually Adam's way of protecting the boys. It's important for us to see the parent through the child's eyes, and a part of that is being really empathetic and spending the time to get to know the parent.
Adam: When I first started working with FACS, I was homeless. I didn't have a house of my own. I had a few personal issues that I was working through. FACS told me I wasn't suitable to be able have my children at that stage. That was difficult. But, obviously, I had to make a few changes to be able to get the kids back.
Jodie: I was so impressed with the way that Adam stepped up and embraced the goals that we had set. So that was from going to therapy, going to parenting sessions, and also working with me to find a house for him. The feedback that I had from the parenting course was that he was the first to arrive, he sat at the front, and he asked questions, which I think shows the love that he has for the boys and the determination to work with community services to get his boys back in his life.
Adam: The only thing that really kept me going, continuing the courses, continuing the therapy, doing everything that was asked of me, was I couldn't bear not to live my life without them in it.
Jodie: I felt like it was important to talk to the boys about the plans to live with dad again. Every time I met them, the first thing they would say is, "So what date am I going to be staying with Dad again?" And I would use simple language so that they would understand but also feel reassured that we had a plan in place. So, I would say to the boys, "Dad has a list of jobs that he needs to do and he's doing all of the things that we're asking." And I feel like they were really reassured by that.
Adam: I had a lot of anxiety going into meetings with FACS. It makes it difficult to articulate. It makes it difficult to get your words out properly. I left most of the interviews feeling like a complete idiot, like my words hadn't come out properly. She managed to see clearly through all the anxiety.
Jodie: I felt it was really important to talk to Adam as a person. He's a parent and I didn't want him to feel like I was talking to him like he was just a client. Parenting is so personal. I didn't want Adam to think that I thought I had all the answers on how to be a parent, because I certainly don't. I wanted him to feel empowered to use the skills that he had learned and for him to know that we all need support when it comes to being a parent.
Adam: I think it's so important to not rule the dads out, to listen to our side of the story, and to give us a go.
Jodie: When the court supported our decision to return the boys to Adam, it was really important for me to sit with the family and hear from them how best to transition them back to Adam. They know the boys. They love the boys. They knew what was right and it was important for me to hear that from them. We needed to make sure that we were checking in with the boys. I asked them how they were feeling about living with dad again, but also how they felt leaving their aunties place. That was really important to acknowledge the close relationship they had with their auntie as well. It's really great to see the respect that Adam has for the boys' mother, and he's committing to making sure that the boys see their mum regularly and that they know that their mum loves them. The future for these boys is looking very positive. It's the best thing that we could've asked for.
Adam: Going into court and hearing the care plans and hearing that they'll be restored to me, it's just bliss. There's nothing better than hearing that. We're together as a family again and there's just nothing better.
Little boy 1: We love playing with our dad at the bike park and going camping and playing Uno.
Little boy 2: Our dad is the best.