SUE Coutts doesn’t understand when people ask how she could love “another person’s child”.
“It’s absolutely no different,” she said of her adopted children, son Russell and late daughter Sarah.
“They come in, they become part of your family, they become part of you.
“I believe everyone is put on this earth for a reason and mine is to work with, to help and to love them.
“We wouldn’t have them if we couldn’t love them."
Speaking during Adoption Awareness Month, Ms Coutts and her husband Neil describe Russell, seven, as a “gift”.
They became his foster carers when he was just three months old, on Valentine’s Day 2012.
Born with down syndrome and an atrioventricular canal defect, they oversaw his heart surgery at six months old.
They soon started the adoption process.
Russell’s birth mother wrote to Ms Coutts, who replied and told her “I believe Russell has a place in his heart for two mummies” and has continued to provide updates of the boy’s milestones.
The Coutts were in South Africa last May visiting Ms Coutts’ mother when they were told he was theirs.
“It was just this absolute joy,” she said.
“For my mum, this was now officially her grandson. It was so surreal.
“Nothing had really changed except we had a piece of paper to say he was ours.
“He’s sweet, kind-natured, trusting and gentle.
“We are so pleased and privileged we can be his parents and give him security. We can advocate for him.”
The Coutts discussed becoming foster carers while in their 20s and before they had their three biological children, now aged 30, 28 and 18.
They’ve provided short-term emergency care for an estimated 60 kids and Ms Coutts said she’ll “be a foster carer until the day I die”.
It was while caring for a six week old baby, Sarah, they started considering adoption.
She was born with down syndrome, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome and an atrioventricular canal defect –but did not have heart surgery.
They adopted her a few months later in 1996, as she lay in life support after fistula repair surgery.
She died following a lung infection, aged 14, in 2010.
“She left a gaping hole in our lives and I still miss her every second of every day,” Ms Coutts said.
“We did a lot of soul searching and I said ‘Why don’t we train as fosters carers, but only look after children with a disability?’
“We had all this knowledge, now what were we going to do with it?
“We were never looking to replace Sarah, but we knew we could advocate for these kids.”
Ms Coutts said they were told in 2011, in their late 40s, they were too old to adopt a child with disabilities, but this was incorrect.
“There are lots of families out there who are interested but scared.
“But if parenting is what you’re good at, go for it.”
There were a record 140 open adoptions in NSW in 2017-18.
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