February 24, 2011
LIMA, Peru—Living in the heart of a home not their own, with parents that aren’t biologically theirs who are ready to offer love, moral values, education and, above all, a future of opportunities, is something that José, 12, and Junior, 11, never imagined until they met the Staub-Gonzales family, who now makes up part of the Familias Acogedoras (Foster Families) program that was launched today by the Ministry of Women and Social Development (MIMDES).
The boys aren’t brothers; they have different biological parents, but after living with the Swiss-Peruvian pair Hans Staub and Gabriela Gonzáles for two years, they have become inseparable.
This experience has been valuable for all four. José and Junior enjoy doing what they love most: studying, playing sports and practicing musical instruments. Their new parents provide them the opportunity to grow up in a safe environment as if they were their own sons.
“We want to give them all our affection and help so they can grow up to be good people. At school they practice tennis, and while José likes to play panpipes, the flute and other wind instruments, Junior loves magic and learning to do tricks,” said the proud parents.
Though fostering children is a new experience, Hans and Gabriela know about raising children, with two of their own aged 30 and 24 living in Switzerland, Hans’ home country.
“We lived in Switzerland for eight years and decided to come to Peru to start a new chapter. We found out about the Familias Acogedoras (Foster Families) program through a friend. It seemed important to us to help abandoned children and bring to life the wonderful experience of childhood. Then, we visited INABIF (the National Institute of Family Wellbeing) and met José and Junior, who we loved from the first moment we saw them,” Gabriela said.
Hans said parents need patience, quality time with their children and a lot of love, especially during adolescence, when kids need their parents to listen and give guidance.
“We are giving them all the best we can offer to become well-rounded people. We have good communication and we always tell them that we’re proud to have them at our side, even if we only have a short time together,” he said.
Dorita’s New LifeDorita, too, receives the same love and opportunities as José and Junior. She is a pretty little 5-year-old now living with Juana Ñoque and Zenón García, foster parents who give her the home of her dreams in her beloved Huaral.
Dorita’s birth parents lived in one of the apartments Juana and Zenón owned. At 4 months old she moved with her parents, who later left her with relatives in Juliaca. When her relatives couldn’t care for her, they turned her over to INABIF.
Juana and Zenón have two children, Mireya and Daniel, but they always wanted another daughter. Upon learning of Dorita’s abandonment and her stay in an INABIF shelter, Juana decided to find her and take the steps to obtain her participation in the Familias Acogedoras program.
“Having Dorita with us is a blessing from God,” Juana said. “We give her all she needs to develop by loving her and providing her opportunities. We know that it’s not forever and perhaps she will look for her birth parents when she’s older, but in the time that she is with us, we will treat her the best she has ever been treated.”
The Right to Live in a FamilyThe Familias Acogedoras program allows a child to live with a foster family temporarily, while his or her legal situation is resolved through adoption or returning to the birth family.
To qualify for foster care, children must be between ages 5 and 17 with no serious behavioral problems or severe disabilities. They have biological families who have not completed the steps to officially prove legal abandonment.
Before being fostered, the children in shelters and the families interested in fostering go through an evaluation and preparation by social workers, psychologists and lawyers from INABIF to determine whether they can participate in the program.
This program has been developed in Peru in partnership with Buckner International, whose work in foster care in the United States spans more than 50 years.
“The goal is to reestablish the basic right of children to grow in a family, avoiding the effects of spending a lot of time living in an institution,” said MIMDES official Virginia Borra, who presided over the program’s official launch ceremony at INABIF’s Virgen de Cocharcas shelter.
She appealed to qualified Peruvian families that are able to provide a loving home to children in INABIF’s care.
“The affection of a solid family and the opportunity to develop without difficulties are things all children should have. Unfortunately, many children are abandoned by their parents, and though the state can give them protection and care, they need homes,” Borra said.
The pilot program has helped 23 children in INABIF’s care. Currently there are 600 children between 5 and 17 years old that can benefit from foster care.
To see the original article in Spanish, click here.
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