We have the privilege of meeting countless families across the country who are devoting their time and energy to give disadvantaged children a stronger start in life. The love that is poured out on these children is very moving. Visiting families not only brings home some of the realities of the difficult job they do and the sacrifices they have made, but it is also encouraging to see how families have grown and been strengthened through their experiences of family placement care. Here's another story of a family who have been caring for two boys:
We pulled up to a traditional siheyuan (a four-walled courtyard). A little boy ran over to us, jumping and shouting excitedly. He was full of life. The boy was about 4 years old and had been in the family since he was a month old. As we entered the house he became more reserved, staying close to his “mum”, refusing to let go of her or stand too far away. As his confidence grew, he began to dance for us, or show us his best toys and sweets. Throughout our visit, he would regularly go back to stand next to his mum to regain confidence before performing or playing again. He had been born without fully formed fingers on both hands, but had learnt how to do things, hold things and open things independently. He was confident and his foster mother was proud. He had an “older brother”, 6 months his senior, who had severe cerebral palsy and was unable to sit up. He had been with the family from 6 months old and the foster mother adored him. From the moment we stepped into their house, she picked him up and carried him with her wherever she went. When she sat down, she sat next to him, holding his hand, gently wiping away his dribble, tenderly caring for him and keeping his dignity in tact. She was as proud and as attentive to this son as she was to the other.
This woman had 2 children of her own, both now married and grown up. We asked if she had much interaction with children with disabilities before fostering, she answered “none”. So we asked if it was hard fostering a child with severe cerebral palsy. Her answer: “In the beginning it was, as I knew little about what I was supposed to do. I didn’t know what he should be eating or how to hold him. I went to some training at the center, and now that I know what I am doing it is no longer hard.”
She went on: “Having foster children has influenced my own family for the better. My own children love the foster children, and often buy them presents when they come to see them”. She is now 48, when asked if she would continue fostering she answered, “I could keep going for years, and what’s more, I want to.”
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