Edit and her husband, László, are foster parents. They raise two young children in addition to their own. We interviewed the faces behind the Reformed Church in Hungary’s one percent campaign.
You live in Bodajk in a family house. You have two adult, and one teenage, sons. Why did you and your husband decide two years ago to take the four-year-old János to live with you? Since last year the two and a half year old Dóra lives with you too.
The whole story started earlier. In our youngest son’s kindergarten it was a habit to take care of children from an educational institute in Budapest for a long weekend during the summer. We took the opportunity because our older sons had already moved out of the house, and we thought Lacika would be happy to have company. The children came several times, and they enjoyed their time here with us. The first boy made a huge impression on Lacika, our youngest son, to the point that he got into the bus crying because he wanted to go back with him to the institution. Time passed, and once our reformed pastor said there would be an opportunity to participate in a reformed foster care training. My husband completely stood by me, so we signed up for the course. Our motivation was that we have seen the children from the educational institution and we knew that they enjoyed their time here with us. We also saw that Lacika had a great time with them as if he had new siblings his own age that he could play with. He is an ill boy with disability, who requires emotional attachment. His life and ours would be more complete. We can re-live having young children with us again, and it is a miracle that we have three sons, then came János and finally a little girl. I cannot tell you how it feels to have a little girl, she is like an angel.
What has changed in you and in your husband since the children have been living with you, and what has changed in them?
Being in our forties, we are happy to be part of this miracle again. We receive so much love from them that sometimes it is almost too heavy for us. If one climbs into my lap and says “I love you mom,” then comes the other one, then the third one. When János came to us, in the first months he did not want to hold my hand when we went to kindergarten. He was just by himself. I vainly hugged him, loved him, all of that was just so strange to him. Then he eased up, and now it is like he is my own child; he also needs coddling. Then competition starts between them, all of them like being the center of our attention.
Are they jealous of each other?
Well, they all have that in common, but it is natural. They also learn a lot from each other. Lacika’s movements improved a lot, and János, who is completely healthy, has improved his speech. János is learning a lot of things now, which had not developed in him yet, like what is right and wrong. He had no reason, but he hit another child in kindergarten who was playing with wooden die. Maybe he felt that no one was paying attention to him. Therefore, at my request, a psychologist now talks with him every week in the educational advisory. It is important for him to learn that his actions have consequences, because this could be a problem in his future.
What is the most important characteristic a foster parent must have?
To be honest, I do not feel like a foster parent.
Then what do you feel you are?
Parent. This means that if I love, I love the same way, if I punish them, then I punish them the same way. There is no difference. I only feel like a foster parent a little, when once a month I take them to be seen, it just hurts my heart.
Would you like to adopt them?
We would love to, but unfortunately we would not be able to. Because of Lacika’s disease we do not know what life will bring him, and everything is so unpredictable lately. Not just his illness is a problem, but also Dóra was born with an illness, she also needs to develop. We would need a very responsible decision, but we do not feel ourselves strong enough. If someone adopts them, maybe they could give them more than we could with our ill child.
Which was the most beautiful moment in recent years?
There were a lot. When they come to me and say “I love you mom.” It was very touching when they went to a church camp at Lake Balaton and we visited them, because we could not stand to be without them. János came to me and said: “Mom, I picked you some pebbles!” And it was a beautiful, sad moment when they were leaving, János and Lacika started to cry. The birthdays, Christmas, when they were waiting for the presents are moments that you cannot put into words. Or when I look at them I see them as if they were siblings, they have a bond.
You attend a reformed congregation in Bodajk, what role does this community play in your family’s life?
We’ve taken Lacika since he was little, and we take the others to the church too. The little girl gets passed around from hand to hand. They are always handling her. There are children’s worship services, Bible classes for children, they draw together, and they also go on vacations. I always tell Lacika that if he has problems and we cannot be with him at the moment, he should say: “God, help me!” I try to pass this on to the other children, that if there are difficulties in their lives, it feels good that there is someone who you can pray to and give thanks.
What is the reason you decided to participate in the one percent campaign?
When people look at the photos and read this conversation and think about it, maybe they get the feeling that they want to help these children. This is a wonderful thing. We give a lot of thanks to God that He gave us strength to accomplish this. To be honest, we would not have started this if the children did not come here for a vacation before. In this way, we could see how we and our son would react to all this. Everyone really needs this experience: the children, and also us.
In 2014, the Reformed Church in Hungary's personal advertisement of the one percent campaign wants to represent the conversion, and internal and external changes of people. We were looking for real stories, that showed how people's lives, lifestyles and environment changed by the reception of gospel and the ministry of the Reformed Church. The one percent period lasts until the end of May, until then we are trying to present three life changing stories. The first chapter of the series showed Zsolt's story in which we can read that by putting down drugs, he lives a struggling, pure life. The second chapter presents Edit and László's experiences as foster parents.
The names of the foster children have been changed according to current regulations.
Written by Dóra Sindelyes; translated by Tímea Gyarmati