Eighteen months ago, QNews Magazine featured Chris Pye and Sophiaan Subhan who had then spent almost a year as foster parents. QN Magazine recently caught up with this amazing couple and discovered they found the experience so rewarding, they’re now proud foster dads to two children, the original child and his biological brother.
Fostering is a special commitment that requires people with extraordinary hearts. It presents challenges outside many people’s life experiences but can be equally rewarding.
Foster carers come from all walks of life, but all have one thing in common. They have a place in their hearts for a child who needs love and understanding to get the best possible start in life.
After eight years together, Chris Pye and Sophiaan Subhan married in New Zealand in 2015. For years they thought about having a family but considered their chances slim.
“I really love children,” said Sophiaan, “and I know that in a same-sex relationship, our options when it comes to having children are limited.”
For six years they considered the idea of fostering children. They talked about it, read about it, asked questions about it, and finally attended an information evening which decided their course of action. They registered as foster carers.
Children have different needs so different types of care are required. Some carers bring children into their home for a few nights, some for a few months, a few years, or longer. Others provide emergency care or give short breaks to other foster carers.
Chris and Sophiaan decided on long-term care. As an alternative to adoption, long-term care provides children with a permanent home while preserving their identity, relationships with their birth family and connection to their culture of origin.
With the decision made, they realised their small house on a major road was not ideal for a family, so they sold up, and bought a larger house in a leafy suburb more suitable for a young child and a dog.
During the final stages of home improvements, after an assessment process and successful accreditation, Chris and Sophiaan received notification they would soon become foster fathers.
“We were at the tail end of major renovations and racing against the clock to get it done,” Chris recalled.
“We still had the kitchen to do. It was a crazy process, like the last night before the big reveal on The Block.”
Only hours after the final tradesmen departed, the new foster dads welcomed into their home a boy from a traumatic background, dislocated from his biological family. Sadly, at the age of seven, the child had already passed through multiple homes. He needed stability.
“For the first two weeks or so, he was impeccably behaved,” said Chris, “I remember the two of us saying, ‘We were expecting a child with behavioural difficulties’.”
However, the child was in what the couple terms “survival mode”, performing to the best of his ability in the hope of staying with the new family. His behaviour became more erratic.
With a background in social work and counselling, Chris quickly got to grips with their child’s triggers and fears. (Training and support is available for all foster carers.)
He and Sophiaan assured the child they would never push him away and never give up on him.
The couple takes time together each evening to discuss any challenges that arise. Chris says a strong relationship is essential.
“We’re both really lucky that we’re in a relationship with a partner who has the emotional and psychological capacity to do this.”
He talked about the joy of seeing a whole new side to his husband and the exhilaration their new experiences as a family brought to their relationship.
Sophiaan said that having two dads appears to be a non-issue with their son, who has a close friendship with the child of two mums.
“While we were doing training (with their fostering agency) we met with other same-sex couples,” Sophiaan adds, “so we’re not the only gays in the village.”
“One of his close friends said: ‘You don’t have a mum.’ He said: ‘Well, I have a few mums and a few dads!”
Although their foster child was dislocated from his family, he needed to maintain contact with his siblings. On contact visits with his younger brother, Chris and Sophiaan saw the importance of the relationship to both boys.
They discussed the potential benefits of the brothers being able to live together in a family environment and be present in each other’s lives. When the opportunity arose, they applied to care for the second child.
Speaking to Chris and Sophiaan it’s impossible not to notice the pride they have in the two children and the love they have for them.
“Despite the challenges,” said Chris, “and there have been challenges, fostering has strengthened our relationship, our sense of family, of achievement and of making a difference in these children’s lives.”
Chris and Sophiaan are excited to have expanded their family and look forward to giving their boys a future of adventure, broad cultural education, stability and family consolidation.
“In the next few years, I’m looking forward to seeing them grow to become emotionally stable,” said Sophiaan.
“I had given up on ever having a family,” said Chris, “I thought I was too old. But it doesn’t matter how old you are, your gender, your sexuality, your marital status or your cultural background.
“What matters is that you are committed to providing a safe, stable and supportive environment, that you have the heart to give children a loving home, a loving family and the knowledge that they are cherished and valued.”
Brought to you by the Queensland Government and Queensland Foster and Kinship Care.