Scrolling through Facebook one day, it seemed like everyone I knew was posting baby announcements.
Why can’t it be me? I cried.
After tying the knot with my soulmate, Nathan, in June 2008, we’d started trying for a family right away. But two years on, we’d still had no luck.
Then aged just 24, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis, where tissue that normally lines the womb grows outside it.
It meant my ability to conceive would be hard.
‘If you want to start a family, do it now,’ doctors warned us.
So, I began fertility drugs and had two rounds of IVF. Nothing.
Broken, it felt like my dream of becoming a mum was never going to come true.
Soon, even the sight of a pregnant woman in public was enough to make me break down into tears.
Then, through sheer luck, we met a couple nearby who fostered kids in need.
‘You should think about doing it, too,’ they said, explaining there was a foster-to-adopt program that allowed kids to be adopted by their foster parents after two years.
As Nathan and I learned more about it, we both loved the idea.
Applying through an agency right away, we couldn’t wait to open our hearts and homes to kids, even if they were only in our care for a short time.
In February 2011, nine months after enquiring, we were approved as carers.
Incredibly, just two days later, we were asked to look after three siblings for two weeks before they moved to a permanent home.
Over the next five months, we had around 20 kids come and go from our care.
It was always sad to say goodbye to them, but sometimes the break in between kids was only long enough for us to change the sheets.
Then, in July that year, we took in three brothers, Christian, then two, and one-year-old twins, Roni and Lucas.
We’d never looked after three children so close in age before, but with only two hours notice before they were dropped off, there was no time to panic.
As soon as they arrived, the connection was instant.
Although having three under three was full-on, Nathan and I were up for the challenge.
I also had help from my best friend, while Nathan worked during the day.
Then, just a week before Christmas, the agency phoned to advise us that the boys would need to remain in permanent care until they turned 18.
‘Would you be up for the job?’ they asked.
Ecstatic, Nathan and I didn’t even need to think about our decision – they were already family.
Less than two years later, we were asked to take in two sisters, Courtney, then 13, and Tiffany 14 months.
Having had a difficult upbringing, Courtney was a bit of a rebel at first.
And with only 13 years between us, she was hesitant to take me seriously and would often answer back.
‘We’re here for you no matter what,’ I promised.
A month later, we were joined by the girls’ brother, Jessie, then two.
Juggling five kids under four and a feisty teen, it was tough, but it felt like the role Nathan and I were born for.
And it was such a beautiful feeling when the kids chose to start calling us Mum and Dad.
With time, and some tough love, Courtney started to open up to us, too, and even began excelling at school.
‘I think I want to stay with you,’ she admitted after just three months together.
As we adjusted to life as a family of eight, our home was full of chaos, but our hearts had never been more full.
Then, in 2017, we took the kids on a cruise to New Caledonia.
One day, after dropping the youngest kids off at the play centre, Nathan, Courtney, then 16, and I were enjoying the sunshine on the deck.
Just then, Courtney pushed a box across the table. Opening it, we found a silver ring for each of us and a handwritten note.
Will you adopt me?
‘Of course!’ I cried, wrapping my arms around her.
‘You’ve changed my life,’ she told us, smiling.
We’d already talked about adopting the younger kids, but we never wanted to pressure Courtney into something she didn’t want to do.
So, when she asked us, it felt like our dreams had come true.
Back home, we lodged our adoption application for all six kids.
When it became official in May 2019, we celebrated with a family dinner.
Now, 20 months on, I still feel like the luckiest woman on earth. It’s been such a wonderful feeling watching all of their different personalities shine in their own way.
Courtney, now 21, has grown into such a beautiful young woman and recently moved out of home to live with her friends.
Christian, 12, likes to think he’s the boss and can be a real worry wart about his siblings.
Roni, 11, is the leader, while his twin, Lucas, is happy to follow wherever his other half goes.
Jessie, 10, likes to make everyone happy, and Tiffany, eight, is our crazy, fun-loving princess.
Our journey to parenthood was long and difficult at times, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
When I first arrived at my new house, I was quite scared. I was living in a new area, with new people and even enrolled at a new school.
Initially, I acted out, but once I realised I was safe, I could see how much Lisa and Nathan genuinely cared for all of us kids.
Thanks to their support, I was able to finish school and get a job.
They honestly changed my life for the better and I’m so grateful to call them my family.