Wednesday 28 March 2018

Fostering to adoption: Mum with a big heart

Some time ago, my cousin invited us to do a Biblical, Parenting For Life course with The City Church. During part of the course, I met Joy and her family. Like her name spells, she's full of smiles and life! Her husband Daniel, is the pastor of The City Church.

I recalled first meeting them at a BBQ session with their church mates, and while I was engaged in a conversation, they approached from behind and I overheard them telling my husband they have 6 children. 4 biological and 2 adopted. I disengaged my conversation to curiously make a head turn. And Wow, they are one great and young looking couple! 

I'm usually passive when it comes to meeting new people, but there's this burning big question in me, "Adopt, why? How do they manage?" I found out only after we parted and texted Joy if she was alright to share her story on my blog. She agreed, Yay!

I posed her 10 questions for this interview, which are really worth a read. She really is an inspiration!

1. How many children do you have? What are their ages?
I have 6 children (15, 14, 13, 8, 6 and 2 years old)

2. You have 4 of your own children and you fostered another 4, of which 2 were never reunited with their biological parents. You adopted them. Was this one your family prepared for?
When we first embarked on this fostering journey, our hearts were really for children who were displaced to experience the warmth and security of a loving home and family. Adoption was not on our mind since we already have 4 children of our own. However, when the opportunity came for us to adopt our first foster child out of the foster care system, it was an easy yes. We count it a privilege to be able to give my foster child a forever home.

3. Why the decision to foster and adopt? 
I was pondering one day about my children. They were well fed and loved. They had more toys they could ever play with. They are confident, happy and secure because they are in a loving family. “Wouldn't it be great if we could share some love and warmth of our family with another child who needs it”, I thought to myself. And that kick-started our fostering journey.

I always had a desire to open an orphanage since I was a teenager. However, after I have my own children, I strongly believe that children grow up best with families. We truly believe that every child, good or bad, deserves to be in a loving home. If God is the Father of the fatherless, then to me, an orphanage will be an oxymoron as there should be no orphan in His kingdom. Ps 68:6 says He set the lonely in families the thus it was never His design for children to be in institutional homes.

4.  What did the older children think of this decision?

Our children were still young when we started fostering. I just said to them, “We are bringing a baby home to stay with us as the baby currently has no home to return to”. There was no protest, no crying. They received with the baby with open arms and I am very thankful for that.

Today, my children are champions and advocates of fostering and adoption. They are the voice in their schools to promote this cause. Many of their friends visited our home to see what is it like to be a foster family. They are always supportive whenever I bring a child home. They know that this is our family mission. To be the loving family for the child who needs us.

5.  What is/are the greatest challenge/s of having a big family of 6 children?
Our greatest challenge now is space. Even though we have a very spacious 5 bedroom HDB flat, accommodating 6 children, 2 parents and 2 domestic helpers makes the house small.

Domestic fights could happen over the usage of the common bathroom especially during the mornings of school days. Who gets to use the bathroom first and what do you do when one exceeds the allocated usage time?

Eating out as a family is reckoned to preparation for battle unless we go to a restaurant. It is difficult to secure seats for our entire family thus we seldom eat out. The truth is our children enjoy eating at home more than eating out as our helpers cook really tasty meals.

6. Has financial consideration ever impeded any of your family decision?
Financial consideration has never been a major consideration as we entered this journey knowing full well that we are to give into the lives of children. It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Luke 6:38 NKJV 
Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."

We cannot out-give God. It is not just financially. When we give our love, time, attention and etc, He multiplies them back to us in immeasurable ways 

7. What is the biggest sacrifice you have this far?
All my sacrifices are negligible compared to the pain and agony of these children who are displaced from their homes. My biggest sacrifice is having to deal with the fact that I cannot take all the children who need a family back into my home. 

8. Understand that MSF gives a monthly allowance for every fostered child. Does this subsidy terminate upon adoption?
The allowance for every fostered child stops upon the completion of adoption order.

9. How is fostering and adopting procedures like in Singapore? What are the costs involved?
The best way to find out about fostering and adoption is to log on to MSF website and contact one of the officers for more information.


10.  What advice do you have for families with a big heart and ability like yours?
For families who are keen to explore fostering, I would suggest for them to talk to current foster parents and hear their stories. Learn as much as possible. Here are some of the lessons I have learnt in our fostering journey. 

A.You are not the Savior of the World!
As much as we love to think that we are the best family for our foster child, we cannot downplay their desire to return to their biological family. The best family for our foster children is their own family even though they may seem to be a lesser good as compared to ours. The end goal of fostering is always to reunify the foster child to his/her biological family.

Know that we don't control the outcome of fostering but He does. Our role is to walk in obedience and love the child.

B. You will get hurt
Get ready to be hurt. Our love for the foster child will be rejected. Our best intentions misunderstood. The ideal of love being reciprocated may not exist in the context of fostering. We must learn to love beyond this hurt and pain. Our love for our foster children must be strong and fierce. Strong enough to take them through the trauma they have experienced. Fierce enough to let them know we still love them even in their worst behavior. 

C. There will always be fear and uncertainties
I have often been asked the question, “How will I know if I’m ready to become a foster parent?” The truth is, no amount of preparation and information you gather can prepare you for this life-changing journey. You are made ready in the journey.

The key is to open our hearts and be willing to face our fears. Do not let fear stop us but let it give us courage and strength to launch out to do what we truly believe – that every child deserves to be in a loving home and love can change even the hardest of hearts.

Source: MSF

Fostering may not be an easy decision. Just like the story of the boy and many starfishes on shore, he may not be able to send all starfishes back to sea, but sending one back makes a difference in that one life. Fostering crossed my mind, it may not be now, but something I'm keeping in view of. Perhaps, when we are out of the chaotic parenting zone. 

After some read on fostering, I love my children doubly much and gazed at them unusually long today. They are blessed, so are we!

Have a great Easter weekend ahead! 

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