Tauranga’s very own Full House

Nathan and Rebecca Christie have fostered 36 kids in about seven years. Photo: Bruce Barnard.

It all started with one young boy wanting someone to play with, but for a single mother, that could be a bit of a problem.

“Well, when I was a solo mum my oldest son, he really wanted a little sister, and I was like ‘hmm this could be a bit difficult’ but he really wanted one,” says now mother of many Rebecca Christie.

“I couldn’t adopt, so someone said ‘why don’t you foster?’, so I looked into it and I ended up fostering.”

Now married, Rebecca says her and husband Nathan’s home has anywhere between six to 12 children in it at any time.

That’s because Rebecca took up fostering, and Nathan was pulled in for the ride. They now live in a Homes of Hope home, and with Homes of Hope currently celebrating their 15th birthday, now is a great time to consider how you can help.

“On our first date I told him ‘Oh I’m getting a wee girl’ and he looked at me funny, so I explained that I would be fostering a wee girl.

“He sort of got roped into fostering. He knew about it straight away and he could have run a mile then.” They’ve been fostering for seven years now, and Rebecca says they have helped 36 kids in that time.

Homes of Hope provides loving foster care for abused or neglected young New Zealanders, and Rebecca says she loves seeing the progress the kids make in their home.

“We might have some kids that come in and their behaviour might not be the most pleasant, and over time as you build those relationships and that trust up their behaviour gets a lot better, and once their behaviour gets better, they tend to be learning more at school and things like that.

“Sometimes the behaviour can be challenging at times, but in saying that that’s not for every kid.”

Their own children Samuel, 12, and Zachary, 6, have both reacted positively – albeit differently – to the coming and going of other children in their home.

“One is a little social butterfly – we’ve always had kids coming in and out while he was growing up,” says Rebecca, speaking about six-year-old Zachary.

“The other one is a bit more reserved, he was the one that started it all, Samuel wanting that little sister.

“I think they cope really, really well with it.”

But it’s not all easy. Because the family spends so much time with the foster children who become part of the family, when they move on to their forever home Rebecca says “we do tend to go through a little bit of a grieving process.

“But we are always really happy for them when they go. We’ve had kids that have gone home and that is really exciting, and we’ve had kids that have gone to their forever homes with the most beautiful families – so you are just so happy for the kids.

“You always end up bonding with them. The longer they are here the harder that can be. So we’ve had some that had gone fairly recently and my oldest son was particularly close to two of them, so he really felt it when they left. My youngest son has always grown up with foster kids coming and going so he copes with it a lot better.

“But every now and then he will talk about someone he hasn’t seen in a good year or two, and he’ll be like ‘I really miss this person!’

“We want them to be going to their forever homes.”

And with Homes of Hope celebrating 15 years of service, now is a great time to consider how you might be able to help.

Homes of Hope has cared for more than 220 children in the Bay and they will help care for more with your help. Visit www.homesofhope.co.nz for more information.