– May 24 2018
Being foster parents is about constant learning
Nataliya and Andriy Basarab live in the SOS Children's Village Brovary, Ukraine. They are foster parents for five children. Together with a team of experts, they can create a nurturing home for the children.
“28 March 2017 is a date we treasure. It’s the day when we officially moved into our new house as foster parents,” says Nataliya Basarab who, together with her husband Andriy, raises five children in the SOS Children's Village in Brovary, a small town close to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.
The Basarabs welcomed the first two children in April 2017. Nataliya says that although they were not newcomers to parenthood, both having one child each from previous marriages, at first they were a bit nervous.
“Creating a loving family home for twelve-year-old Vanya* and ten-year-old Lina was an exciting time,” remembers Nataliya. “We’ve worked with children without parental care since 2013. But, this new start, this new family, these new dynamics were a real challenge.”
She explains that when Vanya and Lina arrived, the new family did everything together, indoors and outdoors.
“Whether it was cooking, gardening, playing, bicycle rides, walks, excursions, even reading books, watching TV and putting away the laundry – we did this all together. This helped the children accept us and feel safe and secure."
The Basarab’s family is one of thirteen in the village. Each family is headed by state-licensed foster parents that can be either a single person or a couple.
The foster parents in SOS Children’s Village Brovary get constant support from a team of experts. Nataliya and Andriy credit this for helping them face and overcome challenges. "The experts make sure each foster parent gets the training and counselling they need. At any moment, you can turn to them for advice. For me as a foster mother these strong and reliable relationships are very important," says Nataliya.
Over the summer of 2017, the family was extended further. Two siblings joined the family: ten-year-old Anna and seven-year-old Bogdan. “Anna and Bogdan fit easily into our family's lifestyle. It's like jumping rope - one child runs in and jumps in harmony with the other,” says Nataliya.
Shortly after, Anna and Bogdan's biological half-brother, ten-year-old Maksim, came to the family. "The three siblings were beside themselves with the joy of finally being together."
In September of that year came a bitter-sweet moment - little Lina was adopted. The village’s expert team helped the entire family cope with the new situation that brought fears and insecurities. Nataliya explains that Lina was adopted by the same family who few years before had adopted her older sister. “Lina is reunited and will grow up with her sister. We miss her, but we are truly happy for both of them.”
Andriy adds: “When you're a foster parent, you face challenges every day. But you should never turn a blind eye. We always seek the help of experts like psychologists or pedagogues. Only with help and constant learning can you become a better person and a better parent. The children are always looking up to us. They often copy our behaviour, so we need to stay a positive example.”
Nataliya and Andriy also bring their professional skills into their parenting. Nataliya is a trained food professional, while Andriy played a role in developing the sport of field hockey in Ukraine.
“Traditional Ukrainian dishes are my passion. I take special care that my children eat healthy and well-balanced meals. I use a lot of vegetables, mainly steamed, and I try to make cooking fun. So far, I didn't have to deal with any leftovers,” says Nataliya.
Andriy’s passion for field hockey easily transferred to the children. The family goes to games together, and the boys show an interest in playing. Andriy can often be seen cycling or roller-skating with the children and is in charge of the barbecue outings. “We usually barbecue at a picnic area close to our home. Barbecues are fun for all our children and are a cosy, family time,” he says.
Around the time of Nataliya’s and Andriy’s anniversary as foster parents, the family welcomed one more member - seven-year-old Oksana. “Our family is growing in size and closeness,” says Nataliya.
The foster couple recently went to a workshop that required overnight stay. “We felt confident our family assistant takes good care of our children, but still we missed them. When we came back they giggled at the door hugging us and then took us in the dining room to a special surprise - a delicious lunch prepared by them.”
Looking back at the year behind them, Andriy and Nataliya summarise: “We feel really happy. We have good neighbours and good support. As a family, we mean a lot to each other, we care about each other and we enjoy being together.”
*For privacy reasons, the names of the children are changed.
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Learn more about how SOS Children's Villages provides alternative care for children