Fifty-six-year old Inga Sindeeva has been a foster mother for eight years and is raising three foster children. She told OC Media about the joys and the challenges of being a foster parent in Georgia.
‘I’m the birth mom of two adult children and a foster mom for three kids. Over the past eight years, two boys and one girl, abandoned by their parents, have joined our family.’
‘They are in my family under a contract with the state. They will officially live with me until their eighteenth birthday — but this does not mean that after they become adults they will remain on the street. No! Now I have ample opportunity to help my children fulfil themselves and achieve whatever they want.'
‘I want to do my best to at least somehow compensate for what happened to them and how their blood relatives treated them. Each has their own personal, tragic story. Despite the fact that they are still very young, they had to go through a lot in their lives.'
‘Luka* joined us in 2013, he was the first child who came to be fostered by our family. He was very sick from birth — he has vision problems and a heart defect. But at first, I knew nothing about it.'
'When I took the two-month-old baby, he had no documents, only a birth certificate, which did not even have a personal ID number due to the fact that his mother ran away from the maternity hospital without writing a waiver for the child — that is how he was handed over to the orphanage.’
‘One woman later took him in and, apparently, found out that the child had health problems, so she decided to abandon Luka.’
‘At that moment, it was my turn to take the child into foster care and that woman put Luka into my hands without saying a word about the state of his health.'
‘When Luka was 4 months old, I was playing rattles with him as he lay in the crib, but then I noticed that he had a reaction only to the sounds that he heard, but did not move his eyes and looked only at a single spot.’
‘The boy already had a heart defect, and when I found out that he could hardly see, I became very scared, and we immediately started looking for ways to treat him.’
'He once said to me, “Mom, I won't be blind, right? I don't want to be blind. I saw on TV how blind people walk, I don’t want that.’
‘The doctors could not give me a guarantee that he would ever be able to see, but a rather difficult operation, thank God, helped restore 65% of his vision.’
‘The second child, Nino, came to our family when she was 5 years old. She has such a terrible and heartbreaking story that we took her to different psychologists for nearly four years to help her recover.'
‘She was raped by her brother and harassed by grandfather. As I know, her brother, who at that time was 14 years old, brought his friends and raped the girl along with them.'
‘We went through three psychologists. I was constantly trying to find someone better to help Nino forget the nightmare that she had lived through. Today we can say that she is feeling much better.'
'The third baby, Saba, came to our family by accident. On the day when I met Saba’s biological mother, I took Nino to a meeting with her (biological) mother at the social assistance centre. While I was waiting for Nino, I saw a young girl, about 20 years old, with a child in her arms, wound in a blanket, wearing a ribbon.'
‘I asked why she came to the agency and she told me she wanted to leave the baby. She told me that she herself grew up in an orphanage and then was also taken into foster care. But she did not have the opportunities to be able to raise her own child.'
‘The whole time we talked, the baby in her arms was crying. As it turned out, she came straight from the hospital to the social assistance agency to leave him there, and the baby was hungry all day — she had a baby bottle in her hands, it contained only water.'
‘She suddenly asked if I could foster him. I was confused, I had already taken two children and didn’t know if the government would give me the right to take the baby in. But I did it and now Saba is a big part of my life. A few years ago I met his biological mother again by accident in church and she said that she doesn’t want to contact Saba, because “he is not her son anymore”.’
‘They are growing up together now. All of them have their own personal space. The boys live in one rather large room, and Nino has her own separate room, with everything she needs, and despite the fact that they have a significant age difference, Nino constantly plays with them, they love each other very much, and that makes me so very happy.'
‘The state has forgotten about them’
‘When Luka was two and a half years old he had heart surgery.'
‘The biggest problem was the price of the surgery was really high — almost ₾19,000 ($6000). The government financed the surgery and we saved his life. But after that help stopped.’
‘No one helped us with tests or post-operative recovery. Every test for Luka costs about ₾500 ($160), and he often needs tests.'
‘After my boy had an operation, I took out a loan to provide everything the child needed, including tests and medication. I was preparing for the possibility that the bank would deny me a loan, and I would have to mortgage our house. But I would do anything to save Luka.'
‘I face a lot of financial issues after I took children into foster care, but, thank God, my family supports me and the children so we don’t need to ask for help every time, I do not have to beg for every single lari.’
‘Now the state gives me ₾450 ($145) per month for each child [..] but how can this money be enough for children who need so much?'
‘It’s so simple, you (the state) can give them sweets or tickets for performances during New Year's celebrations? Tickets for a museum, a zoo, or anything else.’
‘But no. The state has forgotten about them.'
*Names of children have been changed.