“It was our calling”

Andy and Deb open up to Insider Style about their gorgeous blended family, and how they became foster parents to their two eldest children…

You guys live in country New South Wales, right? Tell us a little about it...
Andy: We live in a little town called Wallabi Point - it’s on the mid-North Coast of New South Wales. Taree is inland, but we are on the coast - it’s gorgeous. 

Are you both from there originally?
A: Deb was from Crowdy Head which is another headland about 30km down the beach, between Foster and Port Macquarie. It’s THE best area.

Andy and Deb Family - The Block
It was a teary family reunion at the A2 Block challenge.

It’s so beautiful in that part of the world...
D: It really is. We are living a holiday lifestyle every day of the year. The kids surf before and after school and we have family and friends all around us here. It’s pretty special. 
A: I grew up in Taree, born and bred.

Did you go to school together?
D: We did. We went to Chatham High School. We got together after high school.... 

That’s a long time together! 
D: We’ve been together 29 years.

 Three decades!
D: That’s right. It feels like an eternity sometimes... 

 Are you married?
D: Yes, 18 years.
A: We were in our late twenties, going on thirty-ish when we got married. 

How many kids do you guys have?
A: We have four. We have the oldest, Leilanie, she is 21. Gregg, who is 20. Luca, who is going on 14, and our youngest son who is nine, Tyler.

Andy and Deb Family - The Block
"They are really good humans, and they have good hearts. What more could parents want?" Deb tells Insider Style.

Your older kids are foster kids?
A: They are. My background is Child Protection. That can be challenging, and it can be unbelievably satisfying as well. The whole time I was working in Child Protection I had always wanted to foster. I said to Deb, ‘We should give someone a good start, or a good go.’ I left, and we became foster parents.
D: The opportunity came up with Leilanie and Gregg to be a part of our family and it just happened. All of our kids are incredible, strong and smart young people. The house is really full and there’s never a dull or quiet moment. 
A: I knew the kids well - they are brother and sister.
D: Andy knew both of the kids before they moved in with us, and I didn’t. 

How did it all come about?
A: We brought Leilanie into our home first when she was about 13. We were respite carers at that stage. It was a tricky age - we were straight into the teenage years without any warming up to it! But we wanted to give it a go, and we did and it stuck. Now we are all close. We have our ups and downs, but we all have each other’s backs.
D: We all ended up in this crazy life together. That was almost nine years ago now. We love one another and that’s the basis of our relationships. We aren’t perfect and we don’t always get it right, but there’s always love and respect. We tell the kids that if everything you do comes from a place of love and respect, you can’t go wrong. 

Andy and Deb Family - The BlockReal-life Superheros! "We all ended up in this crazy life together. That was almost nine years ago now. We love one another and that’s the basis of our relationships. We aren’t perfect and we don’t always get it right, but there’s always love and respect," Deb tells Insider Style. 

After Leilani joined you, her brother came as well?
A: Absolutely. He wasn’t going to stay away! It wasn’t long before we were all in this together!
D: They have both moved out for a time and lived on their own too, but they’re both living back home at the moment. They’re smart, caring kids and they are stuck with us now! Couldn’t get rid of us if they tried!
A: Gregg loved the family make up, and being with his sister, regardless of how much they fought - which they did - I think the makeup was perfect. Our family felt complete. 

Did you have your own kids at that point?
D: We sure did. Luca was 5, and Tyler was just about one year old. They are both beautiful little souls who accepted the big kids Into their lives with open arms and open hearts. They both make us very proud. They’ve never felt our family is different and have always been very proud of all of their siblings. There hasn’t been jealousy or anything like that - just very normal family stuff. Sometimes they fight, but it never lasts long. It’s a really good fit. 
A: Tyler was just starting to develop severe, chronic eczema when they came to live with us...

So you don’t shy away from a challenge?!
D: No, we don’t. Life would be boring if it was too easy! In all honesty, our family has overcome some really challenging things together. From getting to know each other when our new family unit formed, to battling for years with severe, chronic and debilitating eczema - and lots of other challenges. We are ready to fly now....all of us. 

You’re all in it together, then…
D: I think it was just our paths were meant to cross with Leilanie and Gregg. It felt very right. It happened quite organically, and it felt really comfortable ...the connection was there.
A: It brought us together, closer, as well. Because Leilanie came, she saw what was happening with Tyler, and it was like she was his little guardian angel.
D: Tyler had some hard times and he and Leilanie have a strong connection as the three big kids were all too familiar with his struggle. Luca had eczema too but grew out of it by 7, so she also struggled and was so empathetic and supportive of her little brother. They were all there for Tyler. Even though he was doing it really tough, he was not doing it alone - it was a united force. These things build resilience in kids. Our four kids are tough! All of them. And for many reasons. 

Are they close?
A: Very close. They are all protective of each other too.
D: Leilanie and Tyler are close. Gregg and Luca are really close, too. But there is a real connection between them all. They are all beautiful kids. They are really good humans, and they have good hearts. What more could parents want?

 Andy and Deb Family - The Block

Turns not Andy and Deb are not the only ones in their family that have skills to pay the bills! Deb and Andy’s four kids also have some serious talent. Watch the incredible video i
n celebration of their Indigenous heritage HERE

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