Singaporean couple share their moving experience of fostering a 4-year-old

PHOTO: Nurasikin and Fairus

After spending the last five years travelling to different places in Southeast Asia including Cambodia and Nepal on their bikes, this married couple decided to go on a whole different adventure.

Nurasikin Ashari, 42, and Mohamad Fairus Jaafar, 44, decided to change up their lifestyle by adding a new addition to their family and fostering a four-year-old.

Foster parenting in Singapore: Couple in their 40s share their experience 

Before foster parenting, Singapore couple Nurasikin and Fairus were both avid motorcyclists. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the couple would go on trips three times a year that would last from a week to a month.

While road trips used to be part of their everyday life, their world now revolves around the toddler they have decided to look after.

The day the four-year-old entered their home in January 2020, Fairus tells Mothership that "everything changed" for them.

They found themselves having to alter their schedules to take care of her. The couple even took turns fetching her from her daycare after work each day.

Despite the couple being frazzled by this new change in their lives, they want to ensure that they shower her with love and attention.

They shared with the media outlet that they are "genuinely invested" in looking after the toddler to see her grow up.

What prompted them to become foster parents 

The couple admitted that it was not easy deciding to take up foster parenting in Singapore. In fact, it took them five years to ponder whether they should take the plunge.

Since Nurasikin came from a family of foster parents herself, foster parenting was not a new concept to her. In fact, her siblings and cousins in Singapore are also fostering children.

Seeing just how much her cousin "made a difference in the kid's life" inspired Nurasikin and Fairus to learn more about foster parenting.

The couple then started to attend outreach events and met other foster parents during their overseas trips.

This also helped the married couple to learn to put the child before them and understand that the child's needs were greater than theirs.

Eventually, in 2019, they decided to take a break from travelling and upgraded their home from a three-room flat to a jumbo flat. This pushed the couple to finally go about fostering a child.

The process of foster parenting in Singapore 

Nurasikin and Fairus proceeded to submit their application to the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and went through the assessment process.

This also involved a training course at the Social Service Institute that helps foster parents better equip themselves to care for foster children.

Soon after, the couple was matched with their four-year-old foster child.

During this matching process, foster parents will be contacted when their preferences match the child's profile. They will also be provided with necessary information such as the child's background and needs.

Welcoming their foster child to her brand new home 

The moment the toddler entered their lives, the pair's main objective was to make her feel safe at home. They showed the child her new room and pointed out the furnishings she could use.

To make her feel more comfortable in this entirely new environment, the couple made sure she understood that had her own space to "play, rest and relax in the house", in the hopes that the toddler would develop a sense of "security and belonging".

They shared that the transition process was "very smooth" and that the toddler was actually friendly and outgoing herself. This was perfect for Nurasikin and Fairus as it matched both their adventurous personalities.

The foster dad also adds, "Any kid, [will] have their own set of behaviours, whether good or bad. So we also have to keep an open mind.

"We have to learn about the child themselves, because they come from different backgrounds [with] different family values. So there are problems along the way of course, because the child needs to adjust to our environment now."

Supporting the toddler through her developmental milestones 

The married pair also wanted to ensure that their foster child hit the developmental milestones required of her age. This includes milestones such as motor skills, speech and reading.

While the child was fluent in singing the alphabet song, the couple found that she was unable to identify the letters. This concerned them as children around her age would typically be able to learn to say the alphabet.

They informed their social worker, and also took the toddler to a specialist. They were then advised to read to her in their spare time.

[[nid:551838]]

Four months later, the foster child became the top reader of her class. Nurasikin even expressed her amazement by sharing that the toddler would tell her, "Mama, can you please don't worry, I know how to read."

With the toddler's eagerness to read on her own, the foster mum confessed that she cried grateful tears in bed that night after reaching such an achievement.

"We didn't expect anything with this child, we just wanted her to grow, or evolve at her own pace.

"But when given the opportunity with a good environment and a lot of attention… she [managed to develop] as a better person," she told Mothership.

The 'rewarding feeling' of foster parenting in Singapore 

The toddler will only be with them temporarily, but she still calls her foster parents "Mama" and "Papa".

However, the couple also make sure not to replace her biological parents as the goal is to help the child reintegrate back into her biological family.

Due to the current Covid-19 situation and having to work from home, the family got to spend even more time together. They have even gone back to going on trips to new places such as the Singapore Zoo, Sentosa and Pulau Ubin.

"I think if you see the changes in the child, in terms of behaviour, or education… You find that [the child] changed for the better. There's that rewarding feeling," shares Fairus.

His wife also says, "For us, this journey… is a temporary care. But what we hope for her is that wherever she goes in the future, she will continue to remember what we have taught her and instilled in her. To be kind, to be respectful, to have good manners."

"We have so much love to give. If you got the space, you got the heart, bring in a child lah," she makes sure to add.

This article was first published in theAsianparent.

This website is best viewed using the latest versions of web browsers.