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November 8, 2008 permalink
The alert John Dunn points out that the following article from the Toronto Star, apparently from a press-release by children's aid, violates the Child and Family Services Act by naming two foster parents. Yet when children's aid wants secrecy, as in today's other story from Edmonton, they threaten the press with ruinous litigation to suppress the name of a foster parent.
The real reason we foster
Couple finds the entire family reaps benefits when they open their home to foster children
November 07, 2008, Trish Crawford, Living Reporter
Janet and Stanley Reid recall the first foster child who arrived on their Scarborough doorstep in 1996 as a wonderful agent of change for their family.
Janet, a trained nurse at home with three children, and Stanley, a manufacturing plant manager, had decided to become foster parents when their own brood were school age.
Their first foster child was a 22-month-old toddler wearing nothing but a T-shirt.
"Our family changed," Stanley says during an interview in his Toronto office this week.
"Our kids would think they were hard done by, looking at the neighbours, if we didn't have a new car or hadn't been to Florida. It gave them an appreciation for grandparents and parents and family. By sharing it with others, we saw how fortunate we were."
The Toronto Children's Aid Society needs more foster parents, especially those willing to accept babies or teenagers. The Toronto Star asked the Reids to talk about the rewards and benefits of being a foster parent. In a nutshell, it made them a better family, they say.
Their three children are now all grown or in university but, says Stanley, "The girls are more like foster surrogate parents. Often when they call, they don't want to talk to us, they want to talk to the kids."
The "kids" currently are three siblings, 10, 8 and 6, and a 22-month-old baby with medical issues who arrived at 5 months of age from the Hospital for Sick Children.
Janet's nursing skills have enabled the family to foster babies with high medical needs and for years they specialized in babies from newborn to age 2.
Mostly, they were short-term placements, she says.
Her own kids had to double up to free up a room for the nursery. "The children had to get used to having a baby in the house," Janet says.
She has never differentiated between the foster children and her own, and when people ask if all the children in tow are hers, she answers, "Yes."
This is rewarding work, says Janet. "It is great to see them come so far from adversity, through care and nurturing, to see them move on. It is a joy to see their resiliency."
One of her skills is working with birth mothers, she says, because sometimes it is just a lack of knowledge, not will or love, that has caused the Children's Aid Society to intervene in the home.
"My heartbeat issue is working with the primary family," Janet says. "Often, they just don't know."
Says Stanley, "Some parents really love their child but they can't care for their needs."
Four years ago, the Reids agreed to foster the three siblings whose mother is still a presence in their lives. These children will stay with the Reids, who now live in a six-bedroom house on a hobby farm near Orangeville, until they are adults.
"We have them in rep soccer, hockey, gymnastics, all the things in life to help them reach their potential. I love being on the sidelines, cheering them on. There is no greater joy than helping a child fill a gap in their life," says Janet. "It's not just us. It's the whole community helping."
The children catch the school bus each day and help care for the horses, cows, chickens, cats, rabbits and a turkey on the property.
They've all gone on family holidays to North Carolina, New York and Huntsville.
In spite of this hectic schedule, Janet took in the sick baby last year, bringing the family's total number of children to seven.
"People ask if it's a lot of work but, if you love what you do, it isn't work," she says.
Daughter Emily, 18, a student at the University of Ottawa, sent this email when asked what she got out of having foster children in her home:
"Fostering and my parents' example helped me realize that it is important to not only find a career I like but also one that will make a positive effect in others' lives.
"This is why I am striving to complete a biomedical mechanical engineering degree program, so one day I can help improve the lives of others, as my parents do every day."
Jessie, 22, studying international development at the University of Guelph, sent this message: "It has given me the desire to be some sort of change for something better in this world. Some would call this a romantic ideal but I've seen what can happen when we commit ourselves to loving unconditionally."
family from L1
Source: Toronto Star