Fostering children in Singapore is not something you hear about every day, in fact, we might even go as far as to say that it’s under the radar. The ultimate goal of foster care is for the children to be returned to their original families. For some, the process of eventual separation is a tearful one, so there are lots to consider before fostering a child.
It’s probably not as talked about in Singapore, but there are children that may have been hurt by abuse or neglect. The love and care provided by foster parents would be crucial to the healing, growth and development of these children. Raising a child is a huge responsibility, so foster parents, we salute you.
According to the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), only a quarter of 1,200 vulnerable children, separated from their birth parents who are unable to take care of them, are in foster care. The rest are residing in children’s homes, where they will receive the required care, but will never get the security and stability of a home environment, and the nurturing love of foster parents.
It is hardly surprising that many parents would selflessly sacrifice sleep, personal time and copious amounts of money to guarantee the well-being of their children. It is even arguable that these children that grow up in loving environments never understand the full extent of how much their parents gave up, but they are not expected to appreciate these efforts because it’s a given. So why does it differ for foster kids?
In interviews with foster kids, a few have cited a phenomenon, where their foster parents expect them to be appreciative and grateful for “taking them in”, an understandably, natural response. In doing so, many foster kids feel like outsiders, causing them to develop an insecure attachment style. Yes, opening up one’s home to a stranger and expecting them to be thankful is a natural inclination, and it may seem like a tiny request, but underneath that gratitude is a harsh reminder of how they do not belong. Stability and consistency can greatly shape a child’s development, but constantly moving them around from home to home makes it difficult for them to have a grounded sense of reality. To be made to express gratitude for having basic necessities like shelter and food could make them feel inferior, negatively impacting their self-esteem.
Children that grow up in healthy family units usually have someone that guides them through the complexities of life. On the other hand, foster children are left with an amalgamation of ideas and practices from various avenues, some of which may not have been the best. While growing up in tough environments can make one stronger, it can negatively shape their world view from a young age. Connecting with these children will require more time, effort and a lot of patience.
Being a foster parent is much more than helping a child in need, it is choosing to play an active role that can help shape their future. It is about caring for them and showing them that they matter. It is about providing them with an environment where they feel safe enough to explore their potential.
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