"The last thing my wife and I expected to become when we retired were foster parents. However, 6 months into retirement we realized that we were used to being busy people and still had a lot to offer as individuals. Retirement actually offered us the opportunity to do the thing we think we are best at and and really enjoy which is actively being parents. Dianacame into our lives when she was just 12 years old. It was difficult for all of us at first. We were not used to having a young girl in our home who had no life skills and didn't trust anything or anybody. Diana wasn't used to having structure in her day or being expected to sit at the kitchen table for meals. But, it was in our kitchen that Diana finally learned to trust. She learned that she didn't need to hide food in her room because our fridge was always stocked and not locked."
Dave F., Collingwood, ON
"Gus came to us when he was 7 years old and he had no idea that life could have any place in it that was safe for him. If I reached out to hold his hand or stroke his head he cowered in fear. I had to learn how to make Gus feel safe. I had to learn how to squat down to eye level with him and not try to touch him when all I wanted in the world to do was give him a great big hug. I had to learn how to take baby steps so that Gus could learn how to walk with me. Gus has, and still is, teaching me a lot about love, trust and acceptance." Laura U., Wasaga Beach, ON
"Abby arrived at our house with so much anger in her that you could feel her frustration. I had to admit that she was a teenager who had seen more of the underbelly of life than I had ever had to witness and she felt that she was competent to live on the streets by herself. In some regards she was probably right but it was my job to let her know that she didn't have to do that. It was my job to let her understand that she had a right to feel vulnerable and safe at the same time. It's what most families do."
Mary H., Wasaga Beach, ON
"Larry was the most incredibly creative yet challenging teenager who has ever been part of our family. He was a gifted artist, highly intelligent and he used humor and language as his defense system. Anyone not knowing the horrific back story of his life would never have known that deep inside he was still a terrified little boy who was afraid to let people get close to him. I'd watch him shift his personality to fit into new situations and environments. He was the most popular and, at the same time, the most isolated individual I'd ever met. Fortunately, with the help of a therapist, regular routines and meals along with one amazing art teacher in his high school Larry began to open up. It was understandably difficult for him to trust people but in time he began to do the hardest thing for him and that was to like and trust his true self."
Hannah K., Midland, ON
"Lisa was a 'runner'. She was 13 years old and had run away from 4 foster homes in the previous 12 months. When she arrived at our doorstep the look of disgust on her face summed up her thoughts on being taken out of the city. We lived on a few acres of land on a dead end street in between two small towns. To make matters worse my husband and I both work from home and school had ended for the summer a few days before she got here. Her face softened a bit when Walter, our Golden Retriever, decided that she was his new best friend. He followed her everywhere and from the first night slept on her bed with her. Lisa liked to try to shock us with foul words and the horror stories that she'd witnessed and lived through in the roughest neighbourhoods in the city. But to her dismay we were not easily shocked and Walter thought every sound that came out of her mouth was magical. I know that hitchhiking to the city crossed her mind the first year she was with us but she just couldn't leave Walter. Living with Lisa was like being on a roller coaster that is also going uphill. So while we had our ups and downs they got less steep and the trend was positive. Lisa never did go back to the city. She lives in Collingwood now with her husband and my 3 year old grandchild."
Annette B., Clearview, ON