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January 11, 2015 permalink
Royce Rigney, age 19, is the kind of boy any parent would be proud of. "Today, he is the picture of success, holding down an administration traineeship with SA Police and confident about his future". Rigney's legal parents are the social services system of South Australia. They are touting their success with his real name. The social services system keeps the names of their failures secret (most of their wards).
Foster child Royce Rigney praises embattled child-protection agency Families SA for giving him a chanceto realise his dreams
A CHANCE meeting in a hospital waiting room about five years ago was the last time Royce Rigney saw his mother.
He didn’t recognise the woman who quickly hugged him and then walked away, and had to be told by his foster father who she was.
Royce, now 19, was taken from his mother’s care at birth, after her heavy drinking led to his premature arrival and serious health problems.
He was one of hundreds of children taken from their parents each year by child-protection workers and placed in the care of the state.
Royce was fortunate to be placed with a stable foster family who saw him through a childhood of operations and intermittent contact with his biological family.
Today, he is the picture of success, holding down an administration traineeship with SA Police and confident about his future. But he knows of many other foster kids who haven’t been as lucky.
“I never went to a (state) home or anything, I always had a mother and a father figure in my life,” Royce told the Sunday Mail.
“But I’ve heard a lot of stories. A lot of other kids, they had been abused by their foster parents, which is terrible.
“If they move from one family to another, it confuses them. They don’t know who’s Mum or who’s Dad any more.”
Royce was 13 when his father – who he had never met – died.
He knows very little about his biological family but has heard enough to believe that Families SA made the right decision in taking him into care. Royce’s medical problems included heart trouble, a cleft palate and speech impediment, mild hearing loss in his right ear and vision impairment in his right eye.
“I was very, very sick when I was young,” he said. “The doctors didn’t think I was going to live. Families SA got called and I wasn’t allowed to go back to my mother.
“At the end of the day, they helped me, they chose a family for me – the best that I could be with.” Royce lives with three foster siblings – an older brother in his 20s, a teenage sister and a pre-school-aged brother.
Other children have come and gone from the home over the years.
“There was a foster kid I knew who was abused, got raped, the worst things you can think of,” Royce said.
“I thought ‘how can this happen?’ They (Families SA) gave you a kid so it has a hope of a good future and you’re taking their lives away.”
Growing up as a foster child, Royce’s life was pretty normal. He was shy at kindy but a cheeky performer at home.
Later, he played football and wanted to hang out at his friends’ houses.
But there were some significant differences between Royce and his peers.
“I had to get permission from Families SA to go on school camps and stuff,” he said.
“They did police checks on my friends’ families.”
As a teenager, Royce wrote in his high school year book that he wanted to be a police officer.
“I want to do something that will help, especially the Aboriginal community, younger kids and the next generation,” he said.
Royce acknowledges that some people hold a certain impression of foster kids as “messed-up”.
“(Foster children) may have anger issues, or be going through depression – there’s a whole range of things that could be happening in their minds – and they need to be aligned with the right foster family,” he said.
“I did at one stage, when I was younger, look at my other friends and think they had a really good life with their real mum and dad and (think) ‘why couldn’t I have that?’
“(But) sometimes it’s not about blood but it’s the psychological connection you have and the love.
“The most important thing ... is the child – raising them, getting a good education to get the best out of them – because if they stay with abusive parents it’s just going to repeat in the next generation.”
Source: Courier-Mail (Australia)