(This story was written about a year after their son came into their lives – he is now 7 years old and still thriving in the arms of his loving family.)
Our story is like a long and winding road. A few bumps on the way but generally smooth. The journey is now complete, or just beginning. I started the journey feeding and playing with babies a couple of times a week at a children's home. Joined on Saturdays by one of my two daughters. We became very attached to some of the babies. One in particular who was adopted, who we still see much to my joy.
Our family decided we'd love to host a baby for weekends and holidays. There was a lot of paperwork and screening and interviews to go through – this for obvious reasons which is how it should be.
We soon received a phone call from our social worker to go to a certain children's home to view a little boy. I'll never forget that day, a bunch of toddlers were running along the passageway and a cheeky looking little boy turned around and smiled at us. I just knew that was him. We visited for a couple of hours, and for a few weekends. Then the magic day arrived....
We hosted our little boy from November until the next June. It became increasingly difficult to return him to the children's home after weekends and holidays.
He was traumatized when I left him there. I was more worried about what this regular separation was doing to the child. I felt guilty about all the other children there that were not going anywhere and used to cling to my legs each visit. I was worried that the would be jealous of this " spoilt " boy.
The situation soon came to a head and we had to make a decision. Our boy was to be sent to another " home" quite far away – he was not stimulated enough in his present environment and needed to go to a nursery school as he is very bright.
With he care and guidance of our Social Worker we decided to immediately foster our boy. Remember the social workers are always there for you – for advice or problems and guidance. Don't ever feel you are alone.
We are very attached to our boy. We've had his 2nd birthday together and one Christmas and holidays so far. So fostering was a family decision and much discussed among us first and not taken lightly.
I am an older " new mother" with 2 daughters of our own. My husband is an older dad too!
So we jumped into this new boat and set happily for unknown seas.
Our boy is a different race – which matters not at all to us. We've had a lot of looks and comments such as " is this your maid's child?". We don't have a domestic helper! Be prepared for ignorant people and their stupid questions. Its nobody else's business what you do but yours. This is after all the New South Africa isn't it?
Mostly people are kind and very curious – try and answer their questions. Usually they don't know how to go about giving to charities or are quite amazed that they've met a real foster family! I always try to encourage strangers or friends to host or foster a child – to hopefully get more children out of children's homes and into the community. Its for the good of the children and the country after all.
All you need is love and patience and most important family support too. We were lucky to have a wonderful social worker who was caring, efficient and compassionate called Mpumi. She always did what she said she would, a lot of paperwork for her, nothing was too much trouble, very professional and she ensured that all ran smoothly at all times.
Our boy is I think typical of his age ( now 3) ever on the go – non stop, full of energy and very curious. The rewards of seeing the changes in him – from being a worried looking, fairly anxious little guy, to a very charming, friendly, happy and confidant little boy are worth their weight in gold. His development has been like watching a dry desert flower bloom into a beautiful and special prize flower. He adores us and we adore him.
It is very easy to love a child not born to you. Also have compassion towards the biological mother. You won't know exactly how hard it was for her to give up her child. You don't know what her circumstances were at that time. She might have had many other children and couldn't manage another, she might have been ill, she might have known she was dying. Never be judgmental of her or her family. One needs an open mind and a big heart to foster a child – as though it is your own. The rewards are great. Think of the thousands of kids who will be in children's Homes until they are 18 years old.
Just do it!
Yes, it is a big job – but well worth doing.
Our little boy has now had 2 birthdays and 2 Christmases, our extended families love him to bits. He is very well adjusted, at nursery school each morning. Don't forget foster kids from children's homes could be lonely without all their friends from the home they left.
Lastly with fostering for us there was no turning back. We went the whole way. We adopted our little boy a week ago today! Also not a difficult process with the help of our lovely social worker.
We are privileged to have " our son" thanks to JHB Child Welfare Society and the Magistrate for allowing us to do so.
Whatever will be, will be.