William and Jean Foster of Burton-on-Trent, England, gave up raising children – both native and adopted – for the last 32 years of their lives. The Fosters married in 1982 and established a kind of family orphanage in their home in 1988, where children and teenagers could spend time until they were officially adopted or adopted. The children came to the Fosters’ home through the British government’s juvenile agencies or social services.
A similar practice is common in the United Kingdom: if a family has enough living space for babies, they can enroll in a special program, as William and Jeanne did. As a result, 186 children passed through the Foster house over the course of three decades. William and Jean received state benefits for their contributions to the upbringing and maintenance of the “guests,” but not full parental rights – the fate of each child was decided by the court.
Regardless of how long the children stayed with their family – weeks, months, or years – the parents considered everyone they helped to be “their own.” We maintain contact with almost all of the children we have helped raise. Following us, the majority of them were officially adopted, and we were amazed at how quickly and happily they fit into their new family.
According to William and Jean, they quickly grew accustomed to each of their students. They enjoyed playing with both babies and older children. It was critical for the couple to instill in the children who had been abandoned by their families that there are people who will accept them for who they are. The Fosters’ most difficult times were when their children left the family. William joked about it in an interview with reporters.
This isn’t just an emotionally difficult time. We become accustomed to cooking large meals and continue to do so after the children have left. And then we don’t know what to do with all of the dishes. Some children stayed in the family for life. Naomi lived with William and Jean for about five years before they decided not to let her go. She now proudly takes her children to see her heroic grandparents.
They are wonderful parents who are loving, caring, and amusing. Every child enjoys having a pet, so there were many animals in the house. There were always children around me who we played with and grew up with. Foster parents are an important part of our lives, and these two have been wonderful from the start. I always come for family holidays, but Christmas is crazy here, the house is shaking.
Christmas, according to the Fosters, is the most hectic time of the year, as they prepare for dozens of families to gather around the festive table. William and Jean even had to devise a schedule in order to accommodate everyone and keep their home from falling apart due to the large number of visitors. Despite the fact that William is already 82 years old and Jean is 74, they have two babies, 10 and 15 months old, in their care. The Fosters are confident that caring for children only prolongs their lives, so they will not stop at 186 students.