BY JANA NIEMI-LAHNALAMPI
For most of us, our life’s work is merely an occupation. For a gifted few, their unique skill-set answers a higher calling. Dan and Violet Dubé are two of the chosen few whose amazing abilities to love, accept and teach have brought comfort, strength and healing to some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
For this installment of Community Heart & Soul, I will use the very eloquent words of Dan and Violet to share their experience of being a foster family.
Onaping Falls News (OFN): How long have you been foster parents?
Dan & Violet (D&V): 15 years.
OFN: What is the process of becoming a foster parent?
D&V: Once you contact the Children’s Aid Society (CAS), they send someone to give you an initial interview. If you qualify, the next part of the process is a home study. This part can be quite in-depth and lengthy. There are interviews and writing assignments, amongst other things. There is also a nine-week educational course. The whole process in our experience can be quite intrusive and thorough — understandably so!
OFN: How many children have you fostered?
D&V: We have fostered 21 children full time and have about 10 temporarily.
OFN: What is the most rewarding part of being a foster parent?
D&V: The most rewarding part of fostering children is the unconditional love and trust they give you and watching them grow to be happy and self-assured.
OFN: What is the most challenging part of being a foster parent?
D&V: One of the most challenging parts of being a foster parent is learning what each of your children needs and providing it for them. While another potential challenge may be dealing with biological families, by far the biggest challenge is letting go.
In order to do a good job with foster children, you love them as if they are your birth children and it is usually bittersweet when they leave. Heart-wrenching, but you have to be part of something bigger like repairing families and fostering better futures for them whatever they might be.
OFN: What do you wish people knew about foster parenting?
D&V: We wish people knew just how easy it was to provide a loving safe environment for a child or children who are not biologically yours. These children may have had circumstances and chaĺlenges that other children haven’t had to face and are vulnerable. They need stability and love.
To us, that is something most people can easily provide. That being said you must be committed even if the fit isn’t there immediately because it is very harmful to children to be moved from foster home to foster home.
OFN: What prompted you to become foster parents?
D&V: Once our children were a certain age and we decided we were not going to have any more, we thought we might be able to provide some help and give back to society by providing some love to children in need.
This process was started but then put on hold once we had taken in our niece and nephew (when Violet’s sister died). Once we felt that they were stable and our family could help we started the process again and became a foster family.
OFN: Why or why not would you recommend foster parenting?
D&V: We absolutely recommend fostering, but we have also told people it is not necessarily for everyone. There are so many rewards and challenges. If anyone feels that they could love up these children/babies and provide them with a safe environment we encourage them for sure! There is a great need for foster families.
OFN: How long have you been married?
D&V: 29 years on May 25th.
OFN: How many children do you have of your own?
D&V: We have two children from birth and two that are actually our niece and nephew.
Whether we are parents or not, everyone knows how difficult parenting can be. The daily grind of diapering, disciplining, guiding, the sleepless nights, laundry, and transporting, the effort of keeping them safe and emotionally supported is often tedious and thankless.
However, after many years of personal sacrifice, one hopes to see the result of the years of hard work in productive and kind individuals.
For Dan and Violet, they must set aside their egos and find reward in knowing that they have played an essential role in the development of an individual during a most formidable time. Because individuals make up a society, in providing love, stability, acceptance and guidance, not only are Dan and Violet making the world of difference in the lives of many individuals but also in society as a whole.
If the world were fair, we would not heap money and trophies on talented hockey players, we would not give gifted performers Academy Awards nor would fame and glory be given to reality stars. Instead, the true heroes of our society, foster parents such as Dan and Violet, would be awarded the Stanley Cup, the Golden Globe and millions of dollars.
As this won’t be happening anytime soon, please join me in thanking Dan and Violet next time you see them out and about or send them a message. As a society, there is no way to adequately compensate them for their wonderful service. We are deeply indebted to them for their incredible talents and selfless acts.