Mama Clara

10 February 2015

My children refer to Rujeko as brother and I call him my son. He has his SOS family, his biological family and us, his "heart" family! We met three years ago when I discovered that he was related to one of my long term foster daughters. Now, happily, we feel that no holiday or family event is complete without him. His interests, his concerns and efforts are important to us. And like any family, we celebrate his successes and hope to guide him and help him reach his potential however we can.
Children who have no birth parents yearn to know and connect to their birth family – in Rujeko’s case, this was his cousin (one of my foster daughters). Rujeko needed to be able to reconnect with his cousin and my husband and I knew that  we had to think of this in whatever adjustments we made to welcome him to our home. It was imperative that we do everything possible to cement the bond between the two.
It is never easy to be a good parent and being a parent to a child who will have to leave you after every holiday can be heartbreaking.  What comforts me is that Rujeko returns to his wonderful Mum in SOS where I know he is cared for with more than the basic necessities of survival, food and shelter. However, others must leave me after their exeat weekends or holiday placements and return to harder places. Places where they feel insecure, anxious, overwhelmed by impressions, and emotions they can’t explain or difficult situations. Social Welfare authorities needed to intervene and remove them temporarily to a place of safety.
These children distrust authority, distrust each other and come to me with a lot of pent up resentment and frustration. Some find it excruciating to come out of the shell where they hide, disconnected from feelings. Often, they vent loudly and creatively at my house!
Rujeko considers me his mom and wishes he could stay with me permanently.  Adoption is a stringent process in Zimbabwe – rightly so because it concerns the security of children. However, we would love to formally adopt Rujeko. All Rujeko wishes for is a sense of permanency. He says about his family, ‘I feel special and wanted and I love my family’.  For Rujeko it’s about the ordinary everyday things everybody takes for granted – taking walks with family, trips to people’s houses, and going to the cinema. He thoroughly enjoys family traditions like church and birthday celebrations, movie night and monthly midnight feasts.
Over and beyond the contribution to their emotional stability and maturity there are very practical reasons why I feel family placement should be encouraged for children in care. It helps prepare them for some harsh realities. Once the children leave the welfare system, they encounter the fact of life that there is a limit to goodwill, financial, physical and emotional resources. There will not always be well-wishers or institutional resources to fall back on. Rujeko and all my kids learn how to go shopping, how to compare the prices of groceries and understand the finite nature of hot water, peanut butter, toilet paper and dishwasher liquid.. The kids learn the cost of ZESA and that the consequences of leaving the fridge open or the stove on simply means no more ZESA for all and no more goodies either! Gobble up the sugar one week then do without it till the end of the month! They learn to recycle their refuse, help other people in the community and fulfill responsibilities – just like you would teach your own children.
At the end of the day, our family is all about love - my husband and I chose to have these kids, and we chose to make them a part of our life. It is not out of necessity; it is not just a feeling. It is the truth. Rujeko is with us because he really is wanted and he really is special.
With love from our hearts,
Mama S and his sisters

Interested in registering as a foster parent? Please contact the Department of Child and Probation Services, Ministry of Labour and Social Services on 04-790871-2.

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