Mary* was only three months old when she was placed in a foster family.
Her birth father had a mental condition which would often cause him to have a violent temper while her mother was battling depression at the same time. Seeing that her natural parents were not able to care for Mary*, her aunt and uncle thought it would be best to place her under the Fostering Scheme to ensure her safety.
Mary* grew up with five brothers and two sisters at her foster home, whose ages currently range between the early 30s to early 50s. Despite this, she never felt any less loved. Throughout her growing up years, she had more brothers and sisters than she could count because her foster parents, who have been foster parents under the Fostering Scheme for more than 30 years, had opened up their home to more than 40 children. “The young ones were the cutest,” says Mary* as she recalled returning home from school one day to find a new girl sitting in her bedroom.
The children whom her mother fostered would usually stay with them for a few months to a few years. When it was time for them to return to their natural families, she would accompany her foster mother to bid them farewell at MSF. “Mum would cry whenever she said goodbye to them but a few weeks later, we would have a new foster child in our home again”, said Mary*.
Shuttling between two homes while growing up, she recalls it being confusing to see two sets of parents. At such a young age, it was tough for her to accept that she did not have a “normal” set of parents. She also found it hard to explain the concept of fostering to her peers. However, instead of letting these challenges get her down, she came to slowly understand and accept her situation, made friends with peers whom she could relate to and confide in, and grew in her appreciation and gratitude to her foster family for taking her in in her time of need.
Having worked with children and youths in her previous role as a relief teacher, she came to realize that there were a lot of other people who came from unfortunate backgrounds and gradually, she was finally able to come to terms with her situation. Till today, she is very grateful for being given a safe and nurturing home with her foster family. Without which, she believes there would be a high possibility of her going astray in her life.
Mary’s* foster family is akin to her natural family and until this day, she continues to stay with her foster family even though she is no longer under the Fostering Scheme. She added, “I consider my foster parents to be my real parents and this is the family that I have grown up with and love.They cared for me by giving me the support and show great love for me in simple and practical ways. If I had remained with my natural family, I may have been emotionally scarred and things would have definitely worked out very differently for me.”
Her foster parents have helped her grow in her resilience and acceptance of people from different backgrounds. Most importantly, she has become someone who is attuned to her own and other people’s feelings. Being under the foster care system has allowed Mary* to have a stable, safe and loving home environment. Growing up, Mary’s* mother was also very strict but this practice laid the foundation and has helped to build her character and mould her into the person that she is today. Mary* was a school prefect in her secondary school years, passed her G.C.E. ‘A’ Levels with flying colours and eventually, went on to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Today at the age of 30, she has grown to be a successful individual with a respectable career in the finance industry and is a valuable asset to her company.
Mary* is very thankful for the love and care that her foster family has shown her through the years and hopes that more children who are faced with a similar situation will be able to benefit from the Fostering Scheme. “My wish is that more children will be given the chance to grow up in a stable, safe, home environment and have such a loving a family as I did, so that they too may rise above their circumstances and be given a chance to pursue their dreams for the future,” says Mary*.
Today, Mary* continues to keep in touch with her natural family and relatives and looks forward to the day that she can have her own family and children. She also hopes to continue her foster mother’s legacy and become a foster parent herself one day.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF)’s Fostering Scheme helps to match children in need of a stable, nurturing and loving environment with foster parents. Today, there are about 342 children who are cared for by 330 foster parents under MSF’s Fostering Scheme, but we need many more foster parents to meet the needs of other vulnerable children who are still waiting for a home to provide them with love and care.
Call MSF at 6354 8799 or visit www.msf.gov.sg/fostering for more information.
*Not her real name