Lastega ja lastele

Auhinnaga „Lastega ja lastele“ täname ja tunnustame inimesi ja organisatsioone, kelle uued algatused või pikemaajaline tegevus on positiivselt mõjutanud laste ja perede käekäiku.
Tunnustusauhinna taotluste voor on avatud 15. aprillini.

Esita taotlus

A loving family is the best medicine a child can get

There are four kids in this family, two of them fostered – a brother and sister. Their mum does an exemplary job of raising them, spending a lot of time with all four of her children. From time to time the two foster kids act up a little at school or at home, but so far it’s been the kind of behaviour that should be easy enough to change – they’re simply kids who like pulling pranks.

Lately, though, things seem to be taking a more serious turn. Mum and dad feel that the foster kids are getting out of hand; difficult situations are becoming the norm. The way they’ve been behaving and the way they cope is being influenced by the memories they have of their biological family – including domestic violence – and attachment disorders. Mum is getting to the point where she feels she can no longer cope. Dad is more optimistic, but wants to ensure his wife remains healthy and happy. There have even been moments when they’ve considered – with heavy hearts – taking the kids back to the children’s home. Of course, they realise full well that if they were their own biological children that wouldn’t be an option.

This is just one of the many foster family stories out there – and there have been cases of kids being returned to the children’s homes they came from because of their inability to form proper, loving relationships.

No matter how many of their own children a couple may have raised, or how well they raised them, or how well they coped in doing so, they can’t foresee every situation that might arise when trying to bring up foster kids. But all kids are good kids, even if sometimes they cause trouble and behave in ways we view as inappropriate. In 99% of cases they don’t act that way out of malice – it’s a sign that they need help.

When a child leaves a kids’ home to live with a foster family, their problems aren’t automatically solved, because the losses they’ve experienced are great. They’ve often seen more in their short lifetime than most of us see if we live to 100. Behavioural disorders can often be explained by changes in lifestyle: being removed from their biological family is the first loss a child experiences and is something they have to learn to cope with and, eventually, come to accept. A sense of insecurity, new boundaries, an unfamiliar environment and getting to know new people and rules can be too much for kids to handle. Good intentions alone aren’t enough with foster parents – both the kids and their new families need support and professional help.

Every child has the right to grow up as part of a family. Only adults are able to help children, raising them as their own or supporting families who are doing so. That’s why we extended our fund’s support in spring 2011, working with the non-profit organisation Oma Pere or ‘Your Own Family’ to launch a counselling programme for foster families.

The programme is designed to support families who have the desire and the wherewithal to raise children left without parental care. People feel much more confident taking on foster care when they know they can get help if they need it. As part of this mentor programme, families can receive professional counselling, either individually or in groups, and turn to a mentor who is experienced in raising kids from children’s homes.

We’re all products of our childhoods. For kids who spend theirs in children’s homes, growing up and making their way in life can be a lot more complicated. If they don’t have adults or a family to support them, they can easily stray from the path they should be following.

Having a home and a family of your own is not something that should be seen as a privilege – it is a basic right, and something every child needs. Many thanks to all those who donate to the fund, with whose help we’re able to support foster families.

Today, three months after first receiving help as part of the counselling programme, it’s still a bit too early to say whether everything will turn out OK for the family we were talking about. But everyone who works with the kids is determined that they’ll get all the help they need. They have an entire family supporting them.

Triin Lumi was speaking to Oma Pere project manager Enel Kotli

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