Waimate mum who has fostered 25 children wants bigger house for more
It's not hard to see why Waimate man Paul Brady refers to his family as "the real Brady bunch".
A surprise visit on Wednesday from his biological son, Josh, was just another day at 'the office' for the extended, blended family.
Paul and wife Jo have eight children between them, as well as six current foster children.
Over the years, 25 children have come to call Jo "mum", since she first started fostering.
"We're just like any other family that has the same issues. We're just a bit bigger," Paul said.
Jo has five sons of her own, who live away from home, while Paul has two daughters – Xanadu, 13 and Jolene 16 – still living at home, and son Josh, whose visit on Wednesday was the first time Paul had seen him in months.
With the couple also caring for the triplet daughters of a friend in hospital, there are 11 children currently living with them.
"Any child that we take on, this is their home for life. Once they're inside our doors it becomes theirs and they are our kids," Paul said.
The couple dream of "breaking the habit" of children who have grown up in abusive families by setting up a large home where they can teach young parents "how to properly look after their babies", Jo said.
"We would love to take on more kids but the house is just too small," Paul said.
An old nursing home in Waimate was "the dream home" as it had plenty of bedrooms and a big living area and kitchen, allowing them to home more children.
However, it was being demolished, Jo said.
Their whole motto "is about keeping kids together", she said.
Jo fostered Azarius and Louie in 2011 and found out they had two siblings, Devonté and Sarenity, who had been sent to another foster home. She fostered them as well before moving to Waimate in 2012.
She said neither of the pairs realised they had other siblings.
"The kids go through enough trauma, then to be separated is another one. For them to be scattered around breaks my heart."
The couple fostered two more children after moving to Waimate, Riley and Wendy.
Paul works fulltime on farms in the region and Jo runs Waimate Main School's "breakfast club" five days a week, which feeds children breakfast before they go to class.
It's an 800-metre walk to school, which Jo takes the children on every morning for breakfast, then home again in the afternoon.
The family's car has broken down, leaving them without a vehicle "for the whole family", Paul said.
If the family did go into Timaru it would cost about $200 to hire a van, so they hardly ever did family trips, he said.
However, after they featured on TVNZ news at the weekend, a man had offered to donate a van to the family.
Shalamar Devlin, a friend of Jo's, said she was always talking about her wish to have a huge home in Waimate to look after more children.
"She wants to take more kids. Can you believe it?" she said.
"She's so amazing; she's such an incredible lady."
Waimate Main School principal Paul Cartlidge nominated Jo as a One News "Good Sort" and said she was "well-known and liked in the community".
He had set up a Givealittle page for Jo to help raise money to buy a new home for the children. By 5pm on Wednesday it had raised over $1000.