November 12, 2018Back to list
Written by Lee Rou Urn
Edited by Asst Prof Andrew Duffy and Sarah Giam
One of the most vivid memories that Michelle (not her real name) has is from many years ago when she was sick in hospital, and her foster mother cooked chilli crab and sneaked it into the ward for her to eat.
“Chilli crab is my favourite dish. She had to smuggle it past the nurses, because I obviously wasn’t supposed to eat something like that when I was sick,” Michelle
Now 31, Michelle works in the financial services industry
and will be getting married soon. Seeing how well-adjusted she is, it is hard to tell that her childhood was markedly different from most other children.
Michelle, who is Chinese, was fostered by an Indian family when she was just three months old. She grew to love and respect her foster family even though she shares no blood ties with them. Interestingly, Michelle’s foster mother is Chinese, but had also been adopted by an Indian family as a child. She later married Michelle’s foster father, who is Indian.
“I recall having home access (meeting with natural family) during my primary school days, but things still weren’t very stable in my natural family,” Michelle said. “I never really did return to their care, and I continued staying with my foster family for a few years even after I was legally discharged from the fostering scheme [at the age of 18].”
Experiences While Growing Up
Being a Chinese girl who grew up in an Indian family, Michelle had a shock when she started school and was exposed to the Chinese language and culture for the first time.
“When I was in primary school, there was once my teacher wanted us to write an essay on a reunion dinner,” Michelle recalled. “It felt weird because I had no reunion dinner to write about; I didn’t really celebrate Chinese New Year,” she added.
Looking back, trivial matters like these seem to fade when Michelle thinks about how her foster family has shaped her into the successful, confident young woman she is today.
The Importance of Foster Care
As Michelle’s experience shows, foster care is essential in giving children-in-need a proper family environment to grow up in. Besides protecting children, the welfare and safety of foster families are looked into as well. For example, foster families would receive help and support from foster care officers from the Ministry for Social and Family Development or a Fostering Agency, and also receive a monthly allowance so that the basic needs of the foster child can be met.
“We need more well-functioning members of society to come forward to foster –especially in Singapore where our population is already so small to begin with,” Michelle said. “It is our responsibility as members of society to foster children-in need, so that they will not become potential troublemakers later in life.”
This article was adapted from ComingHomeSG.
Illustrations by Sarah Giam.
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