How a family lives together varies by country and culture, but the standard family with husband, wife and children is no longer the norm. In this series, people talk about their families, with this week: Desiree (52) van Zanten took a student into her family and is now working with her husband to adopt him.
The Van Zanten family lives in a spacious, rural home in North Brabant. Paul and Desiree have three biological children: Sara (27) and Joëlle (25) live alone, and son Benjamin (23) still lives at home. Sander (11) has also been a member of the family for six years.
He was removed from home immediately after his birth and ended up in a foster family, where unfortunately things did not go as hoped. ‘Miss Dees’ would occasionally take the boy in for a weekend so he and his family could have a break. It is now impossible to imagine the family without Sander.
The family moved from Randstaden to a spacious farm in Ledeacker. Van Zanten: “I worked as a special education teacher, and we regularly offered residential help to a boy with autism. In my class was Sander, a troubled toddler who grew up in a foster family with two younger children.”
After many assistance processes, the family counselor decided that weekend care was needed to relieve the family, says Van Zanten. “We did that for six months, and it went very well. One day we got a phone call that Sander had to leave his foster family immediately; an emergency home was being sought for him for six weeks.”
Scream for hours
Van Zanten, her husband and their children agree that Sander is best placed with them. “Due to the stress in his nursing home, Sander was very thin and pale. It went really well from the first day at our home. He played, ate well and slept well. In retrospect, we think he literally felt the room with us. “
According to Van Zanten, the composition of the family makes a big difference for vulnerable children: “He was the youngest with us. That made him good. Our children were old enough to meet together: we don’t want to be manipulated.”
“If it was too much, we left him for a while. Sander didn’t speak, but screamed. Sometimes for hours. From the first day we made it clear that he could scream in the cowshed with the door closed. , but not in the house . Slowly he started talking and telling us more and more.”
This year he asked Paul and me, ‘Do you want to adopt me? Then I can become Benjamin’s real brother’.
From shelter to nursing home
After six weeks, no foster family had been found for Sander, and he could not return, so he wanted to go to an institution. “We discussed with each other that we wanted to convert the shelter into full-time care.”
“We wanted to keep his worlds – his biological parents, his foster families and his school – as much as possible. We’ve been through all sorts of things with Sander, but we’ve never considered him a problem child. Despite the bad start his life, he is as ordinary as any other child.”
From a screaming toddler to heavy medication in special education, Sander has now become a happy boy in regular education, without a diagnosis and without medication. “He goes to soccer and scouting, has contact with his biological mother and monthly contact with his first foster parents in the form of weekend stays.”
“Together we take care of Sander. This year he asked Paul and me: “Do you want to adopt me? Then I can become Benjamin’s real brother.” “Everyone has agreed to that. We will have the hearing at the end of February. It doesn’t change how we feel about Sander, but next year we will be his legal parents.”
The right place
His biological mother has agreed to the adoption request, and the Danish Youth Agency and the Children’s Protection Agency have written positive reports about his development. Van Zanten agrees that her family is the right place for Sander. “We live in a small village where everyone knows each other. Not only do we support Sander, but the whole village supports him.”
In Ledeacker, everyone knows what it is, but outside the village borders there is often confusion about the family: “Because our three biological children are adults, most people think that Sander is an offspring from another leg. But I am proud to could tell you. how it sits.”
Laura heeft een baby van een vakantieliefde, vertelt ze aan Ouders van Nu. ‘Zwanger, zei ik. Hij reageerde vreemd, kreeg een koude blik’