The Project – Barnardos Mother of the Year 2020 is Margie Bailey from NSW
‘The Hardest Part Is Saying Goodbye’: Mother’s Day Honoree Opens Up About Being A Foster Carer
The recipient of this year's Barnardos Mother of the Year award has welcomed over 100 children into her home in the last 35 years.
Chosen from a national shortlist of eight finalists by the children's charity, NSW mum and foster carer Margie Bailey spoke to The Sunday Project after receiving the honour today.
"It's a beautiful honour, just an incredible shock," Bailey told Susie Youssef, adding that being named Australia's number one mum was "very humbling".
Bailey and her husband Ron began their journey as foster parents when she was just 24 after the couple, who had young sons, found out they couldn't bear any more children of their own.
"We had realised that we wanted to continue to parent, and we felt really lucky and thought we could give a little back," Bailey said.
"We were in our early 20s, and we didn't know anything and we gave it a go and we've just continued for 35 years and we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into," she added.
Bailey explained that taking on the responsibility of fostering children is a "package deal" that involves a relationship with the families of the kids she's helped to parent.
"It is so important, if you want to foster, it is a package deal," she said.
"The families are always there, the birth families, the grandparents, the siblings, if we can all work well together and show each other respect, fostering can be incredibly successful," Bailey added.
After 35 years, the foster mum said the hardest part of the job was "saying goodbye".
"It is always painful and there is a lot of grieving involved, but that's okay, that is also part of the deal of fostering with us," she said.
As tough as it is forming a bond with children in her care who then eventually leave the Baileys' Newcastle home, Margie said she wouldn't trade it for the world.
"Fostering is really difficult. Not fostering is so much harder. It's just - yeah, I just - it is a really hard not to foster, I think about it all the time."
(This article first appeared on The Project and can be found here on 10daily.com.au)