The little boy turned his head in astonishment; everyone was calling his name and singing in great joy. These were the uncles and aunties he had met on a regular basis, and all of them looked so happy as they raised their voices in merriment. In addition, there were his Daddy and Mummy, and his two Kor Kors, all beaming in wide smiles, as they sang his birthday song and enjoyed the delectable cake that Mummy had baked.
Our dear foster son B turned 2 last week. This was the first birthday he was celebrating with us and the friends who love him. That day, as we headed home after all the festivities, we asked little B if he was happy, and the little boy answered resolutely in a gentle voice, “Happy.”
|This 2-year-old is surrounded by so much love. He is loved by the uncles and aunties and the Kor Kors and Jie Jies who see him on a regular basis. And he brings much joy to others wherever he goes.|
B first came to live in our home in May 2022. We first met him in a fast-food outlet, after being informed that his birth family needed someone to care for him for a short period of two months. He was then seated completely still in his high chair, and looked uncertain as he surveyed his surroundings. Just days later we took him home, and we knew that his life and our lives would be changed forever.
Within days he took his first steps with us, and he also started developing a love for solid food. All of this happened gradually, and I will always remember one of my first days with him, when I was caring for him in a cafe for seven hours; while Sue and the kids were at an educational event. At that time, he sat in his high chair for the entire period of time, This was my Facebook post then:
A fairly quiet afternoon sipping coffee as Sue and the kids attend the Army Open House.
Not quite so quiet when you have a 14mo trying to talk to everyone around him, even as his daddy tries to mark scripts and settle company accounts.
In the past hour or more the little one has successfully chatted up with a lady who was knitting, and persuaded her to share the wool. He's also gobbled down three slices of bread, and tried to be the third wheel to a young couple who I believe might be encouraged to start a family earlier rather than later.
Life has not been the same since this little one joined the family; especially when you're trying to get work done and he tries to talk to you about everything.
|B's confidence has grown immensely since he first came to our home. He is dearly loved by his Kor Kors, even as he loves them so much.|
It has been 10 months since B first came to us; and the boy we have now is a completely different kettle of fish in comparison to the child who first joined our family. We now hear him before we see him, with our family likening his voice to a foghorn. He eats everything we feed him, from chicken rice to noodle soup and even prata and kimchi. And his laughter is contagious. He cackles at the slightest thing, like when he hears animal sounds from a book. He is also generally well-mannered, and says his “please”s and “thank you”s regularly.
|This was taken at a fish shop near the boys' sports class. B loves animals and is so keen to interact with creatures big and small. At home he talks to the quail and the hamsters, and he is particularly tickled to be near them.|
Fostering is uncertain. When B first came to our home, we were told that it would be a temporary arrangement, with plans for him to return to his birth family in two months. And while we were sad at the short time span we had with him, we were also glad to be of help to the birth family as they would then be able to manage other matters while B got the care that he needed.
However the first two months ended with a more permanent fostering arrangement, and we were then told that the placement would continue for another couple of months, till the end of 2022. The year soon ended, and we were then informed that he would likely leave in the first quarter of 2023.
March 2023 has come to an end, and B is still with us. We are often asked how long this child would remain with us, and we reply by saying that we have absolutely no idea. That’s the way fostering works. You take in a child, and there seems to be some form of indication when he will be reintegrated with his birth family. But as time goes on, the period he spends with you seems to get longer and longer, and you will continue not to have any idea when the child will leave.
|At sports class. He thinks he's the same size as all the Kor Kors and Jie Jies in the class, and tries to become part of the action as much as he can.|
We told ourselves not to get too attached to him when he first came; especially since it was supposed to be a temporary placement.
But how can you close your heart to a child who is living with you? You just can't. And so you grow fonder of him as the days and weeks and months go by. And although you know he will one day go home to his birth family, you continue to shower him with all the love and affection you can give him. You teach him new words; you teach him positive behaviour; you simply hold him and hug him and sing to him when he is in emotional anguish.
You stay the course; even as plans continue to be made to return him to his birth family. And you watch as he undergoes the uncertainty of the inevitable transition and return. You watch as he reacts to the numerous changes around him. You watch as his emotions go into a tailspin. You watch as he sobs his heart out. You hug him, and hold him, and talk to him, and comfort him.
There are so many things beyond your control, and you know there's nothing you can do in the larger scheme of things.
But you know you can be there for him as a father, as someone who gives him the love and security that will not always be there for him. And you hold on to the hope that the seeds you have sown in his life will one day bear fruit - that he will become a secure individual, one who lives his life with meaning and purpose.
|At 2, this boy loves to draw. In fact he's curious about most things, and loves to do everything that the Kor Kors love to do.|
Fostering is about being faithful. We believe that there is a reason why a child enters our home - we have so far had four longer term placements and two shorter term stays. So when a child joins the family, you love him or her with the love of God; caring for the child, and providing them with a sense of security and certainty; in order that they come to an understanding of who they are and what it means to be love. This then enables them to grow and to thrive in every possible area - physical, emotional and mental.
Then when the child leaves, you become very sad. You cry buckets of tears; you mourn the loss of a family member, no matter how long or short that child was with you. And you learn to surrender him or her into the hands of God, for you know that every child was created by God, and He loves every one of them more than what any of us ever can.
Fostering is about love. It’s about providing as much unconditional love as we can to the child. It’s about giving the child a home. It’s about creating an environment of certainty and stability. It’s about allowing the child to grow. And it’s about surrendering him or her back into the hands of God when it’s time to leave.
Fostering is a painful process, and our hearts are broken each and every time. Yet we continue to love. We continue to give off our lives to the child. We continue to surrender our wills to God.
We love because God first loved us; and we have the strength to love others because this love originated from God. We are merely His instruments here on earth, faithfully obeying His call, and loving the people who are on His heart.
|Our family for now. We will continue to love B whether he's with us at home or should the day come when he returns to his birth family. We love all our foster children; always will.|
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