In my opinion, the term “foster families” is a misnomer that does not sufficiently describe what it means to be one. “Unconditional love families”; “Families whose dedication is a way of life”; or, my favourite, “Families who teach little broken hearts how to love again.”
When I look at the conditions and necessary functions a foster family has to fulfil, I find myself in awe of how kind and generous people can be. In this testimonial, I’ll be replacing the terms, “foster families, families of substitution and resources” with the term, “parents at heart” in an effort to humanize the exchange between a child and an adult and, more importantly, to understand to what point it is a vocation that goes above and beyond these pejorative terms.
At the very least, parents at heart must provide support and assistance to the children in their care and help them establish a healthy and appropriate routine. They must allow them to grow and guide them in learning how to become healthy and functional human beings. This is by no means an easy task! Many of these children arrive disoriented with zero self-esteem and absolutely no self-confidence. Our parents at heart have a mission, yet they do not allow themselves to be beaten down and they rise up to each and every challenge with enthusiasm, pride and patience.
To ensure a child is eating well and is safe and secure is one thing. To teach them to appreciate flavour, to discover their personalities and open their horizons to the possibility of happiness is a totally different story and these parents manage to accomplish it!
Assisting the child in his or her daily activities, exercising appropriate oversight and placing value on open communication are principles that are added to the family mandate, which already juggles piano lessons, soccer practices or end of year school plays. Families get up in the middle of the night to reassure, rock to sleep and wipe away the tears that flow despite themselves. They are constantly seeking to stimulate the children and warmly applaud all improvements and noticed efforts. This goes far above and beyond the demands and expectations they are initially subjected to.
Buying essential commodities, managing allocations and allowing the child to be “normal.” If some believe that families open their door to make money from having children in their care, they should take a close look at the quality of clothing worn by these children. And the trips, leisure activities and expenditures that they are offered. They should see their faces light up with smiles. I, myself, have seen all of it and more.
I’m disappointed in the bad publicity surrounding foster families. The bad cases are highlighted permanently and success stories don’t receive the same press. Raising and guiding another person’s child is a thankless task and that bothers me. I’d like to make it clear that I have the utmost respect, gratitude and pride for these families. You are saviours. You choose to share your love, your lives and your experience in the service of children who haven’t been quite so lucky. It is commendable and impressive on every level.
Keep it up! On behalf of every person you’ve helped in the past, you are helping now and will help in the future, I sincerely thank-you!
TESTIMONY FROM A GRATEFUL BIRTH MOTHER
I am a mom who needed the help of the youth center at one point. My son had to be placed in a foster family. Today, I believe this is the best thing that could have happened to me and to my son. The youth center supported me and helped me overcome challenges and get out of the situation I was in.
My son and I now have a very good relationship and I’m so grateful to the foster family who was able to take him in and treat him as one of their own and teach him so many things. He continues to visit his foster family on a regular basis because he considers them to be his second family. He had dropped out of school for two years, but has now returned to finish his secondary V. He even wants to continue his studies and attend CEGEP to become an educator. For now, he’s involved in assisting workers at a community organization and he’d like to eventually work for the Youth Centre.
I can say without hesitation that his foster family taught him to believe in his potential and work toward a wonderful career. I’m very proud of myself, but am even more proud of him for being so resilient. It all means so much to me. Perseverance and help from others have helped us overcome the obstacles!
Many thanks to the Youth Centre and his foster family. You have given renewed hope to a now united and happy family!
Forever a mother
A story with the heart
Almost nineteen years ago, my husband and I made a decision we would never regret ; becoming a foster family.
We were well aware that it wouldn’t always be easy, but felt it would be well worth it to embark on this wonderful journey. And the adventure began. Dozens of children crossed our threshold, each of them just as endearing as the next.
Knowing that we were going to make a difference in the life of a child was very rewarding. We began sowing the seeds as soon as they came to us. Some days, the harvest was long in coming and others were more abundant, but, when taking stock, it was a very positive experience. Every child deserves love, safety and a sense of well-being – and yet some never receive them.
Children are our most precious assets and they need to be protected – it’s a sure investment for a better future. We should never forget that the children of today will be the adults of tomorrow.
I hope we have many more years to come to evolve with the children. They’ve helped us become the people we are today, with open minds and a concern for the well-being of others.
To all the children who have come through our lives, I say THANK YOU. Thank you for having been the sunshine that lit up our days.
Gisèle Gignac, proud foster mom