DAVAO CITY (DSWD XI) – Looking after children who are not your own is one of the most self-sacrificing acts a mother can do. It elicits as well ample blessings from above as it exemplifies unconditional compassion and generosity.
Such is the case of foster parent Aida Cascato, 54, who for 21 years has made it her vocation to care for abandoned and neglected children whose parent/s gave up on them or have been extremely incapacitated to take care of them.
Aida and her late husband started to foster children since 1995 when they were granted a license by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). From then on, the couple had lovingly and unselfishly nurtured a total of 16 foster children on top of their three biological daughters.
Aida recalled the whole family was interested to become a foster family. “My husband and my children were eager and were looking forward to having other children live with us even if it’s just temporary.”
Aida once dreamed to have a baby boy but God gave her three daughters instead. All three have been very supportive as foster sisters to all the children that came along and left for permanent placement.
“Nag duha-duha gyud ko sauna kay gina-isip nako kung makaya ba gyud nako buhion ang usa pa ka bata, pero akoang gidayon kay gusto pud ko tagaan og pamilya ang usa ka bata nga gi-abandona (At first, I was really hesitant because I was also thinking if I could still raise one more child, but I pursued the plan since I wanted to provide a family to an abandoned child),” Aida admitted.
For her first foster child, DSWD granted her a boy named Junniad. He came to Aida’s family when he was two months old and was legally adopted seven years after.
Foster family care is the provision of a planned temporary substitute parental care to a child by a foster parent duly licensed by DSWD. In foster care cases, the child’s biological, adoptive parents or legal guardians, temporarily give up legal custody of the child.
“Tanan nga akoang gi-foster kay nagdugay sa akoa before nga ma-adopt. Lipay pud ko labina napulo sa ilaha kabalo ko nga na-adopt sa inter-country ug ang ilang adoptive parents kay makahatag sa ila og maayong kinabuhi (All children stayed with us long before they got placed out for legal adoption. I am very pleased especially that ten of them were placed out through inter-country adoption wherein their adoptive parents could provide a good future for them),” Aida happily shared.
“I do not have the world to offer them because if I had, I would adopt them myself so that they won’t have to leave us.”
Aida’s secret is having a good relationship with God. Further, she nurtured every child given her with good values and provided what is best for them based on her family’s capacity.
A foster child is allotted a monthly subsidy by the government to support his/her needs. The subsidy may be in a form of financial aid, goods or other support services.
Aida owns a boarding house and an internet cafe. She earns enough to support their family needs.
“I treated every child as my own that is why I always provide the best for them and support them in every way I can.”
Many of the children that came along had illnesses like asthma and allergies while some were underweight.
Being compassionate, Aida never rejected any. She accepted all. She is one of the best licensed foster parents of DSWD. She offered 21 years to share her home with homeless, disadvantaged children.
“Lisod ang pagpadako og bata, gibuhos nako sa ila, gipaskwela nako, hatod ug sundo pero ang kahadlok sa akong kasing-kasing ang pag let go. Dili tungod sa pagsuporta ug pagpadako nimo sa bata pero ang imong relasyon sa ilaha. Mura ko pirmi namatyan pag kuhaon na sila (It’s hard to raise a child, I gave my all, sent them to school, fetched them but the fear in my heart is that of letting go. Not because of the effort from raising them but more on your relationship with them. The moment social workers come to fetch them, I always feel like someone close dies on me).”
When her husband passed away in 2015, Aida took a break from fostering. However, after just a few months she became active again because she knew that there are still children that need her genuine parental care.
Under the law, those who wish to become a foster parent must be of legal age; at least sixteen (16) years older than the child unless the foster parent is a relative; must have a genuine interest, capacity and commitment in parenting and is able to provide a familial atmosphere for the child; must have a healthy and harmonious relationship with each family member living with him/ her; of good moral character; physically and mentally capable and emotionally mature; must have sufficient resources to be able to provide for the family’s needs; willing to further hone or be trained on knowledge, attitudes and skills in caring for a child; and must not already have the maximum number of foster children under his/her at the time of application or award.
To date, there are 84 licensed foster parents in Davao Region while 74 foster children are under foster family care.
“Foster family care is better than institutional care or growing up in a center or an institution without a mother and father figure. That is why we are encouraging more couples or qualified individuals to become foster parents,” DSWD Regional Director Mercedita P. Jabagat stressed.
“I hope all of them will have a good life. And when we meet again, they would be the persons that I always wanted them to be,” Aida added. (DSWD)