The two biological children of Sietske (58) and Fred (62) Broekhuis have left home for years, and their third grandchild is on the way. Yet they still have eight teenagers living at home. “I hate the word foster children and don’t think it’s necessary to always say it. It’s just eight children with biological parents where they don’t live.”
Sietske was tired of the negative reports about foster families in the media and therefore decided last year to give an insight into her life as a foster parent via social media. Together with Fred and the boys Daan (15), Noah (15), Gabriël (14), Juliën (14), Jarick (14), Dilano (14), Joëll (11) and Mattan (11), she now has twenty thousand followers .
“I don’t want to make life in a big family of boys more beautiful than it is, because we probably have difficult moments,” says Sietske. “But there is something beautiful and funny in every child, and I like to show that.”
The couple ‘accidentally’ ended up in foster care when they took in a neighbor boy more than twenty years ago. “A thirteen-year-old boy who argued with his stepfather. He spent the night and it ended up being seven months. It was a turbulent time. He was a ‘problem child’ who did everything that wasn’t allowed.”
“Nevertheless, our interest in nursing homes was piqued, and when our children Remon (35) and Nadieh (34) were small, we started crisis assistance. We offered a home to children who were waiting for a permanent place to live.”
Here come children who have attended thirteen schools and throw up for being too problematic.
A glimmer of hope in the eyes
Sietske does not believe that you can learn to be a foster parent. Taking care of foster children is in her blood, and she now knows that she is good at it. “Children come in here who have been to 13 schools and are kicked out for being too problematic. Yes, there are often problems, but there is always more than that. I often see a glimmer of hope in their eyes, and it is so nice to see them grow, no matter how slowly it goes sometimes.”
The boys all have their own room in the foster family’s corner house Ommens and treat each other like brothers. “When we went out to eat at a tapas restaurant, I told them to make themselves beautiful. When they were upstairs getting dressed, putting gel in their hair and putting on perfume, I was so proud. Some boys thought they were worthless when they got here. It’s stuff like that that shows me how well they’re developing.”
Don’t expect a happy child. Don’t expect a well behaved child. Don’t expect grateful parents.
Division of roles in the house
Foster father Fred plays an important role in the family, but also has his job as a painter. A conscious choice that everyone supports.
“Fred had cancer and was at home full time during his illness. We both noticed it wasn’t working. His work is his relaxation. I get the boys to school and run the house during the day. We are a team and do it. everything: taking the boys to sports and appointments, cooking and eating.”
In addition to taking care of the boys, Sietske also has to deal with the children’s biological parents. “I do my very best for all parents, no matter how angry they are sometimes. I understand those parents, I myself would be furious if my child was taken out of their home and grew up with complete strangers. That pain is so understandable , but I try to do it together and to involve them where possible. We visit parents at home as much as possible.”
She has neighbors her age who are already out of children and touring on an electric bike. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but we’re glad we still have kids around. They keep us young.” That’s how it will be for now. The eight teenagers who live with Sietske and Fred have been there for years and are allowed to stay until they are 21 years old.
She is happy because she thinks they are a really nice couple. “It took a lot of energy and time to become a close family, but now everyone goes through fire for each other.”
According to Sietske, a good foster parent succeeds by having no expectations. “Don’t expect a happy child. Don’t expect a well-behaved child. Don’t expect grateful parents. As a foster parent, don’t be disappointed if you can’t make arrangements with the child after three months. It all takes a little more time with these damaged children. Unfortunately Placement disappointments often result from false expectations.”
According to Sietske, you also have to be a little “crazy” if you want to become a foster parent. “You give up your privacy and you have to put your privacy on the backburner. The compensation you get as a foster parent is for the expenses you make per child, you can’t make a living off of that. But realize that foster care is very nice. to Besides worrying, foster children also give you a lot of fun every day. We wouldn’t miss the boys for anything.”