Foster care is changing the lives of vulnerable children in Bulgaria. When Renetta met her foster child Ronie*, who has cerebral palsy, she had spent most of her young life in an institution. At age six, she could not walk and could barely talk.
In just one year, the change in this tiny, sunny girl has amazed everyone around her, her potential unlocked by the love and care of a family environment.
Renetta and Ronie were brought together by Lumos' partner For Our Children Foundation, a non-profit child protection organisation and the leading provider of foster care in Bulgaria since it's establishment in 1997. The foundation continues to support them both, and Ronie makes new progress every day.
Watch this family's story below.
Read Renetta's full interview below.
How long have you been a foster parent to Ronie*?
A year and a half.
Why did you decide to become a foster parent?
For me being a foster parent is a cause. I would like to save childhoods.
That’s why I decided to become a foster parent - to be able to help as many children as possible, so that they could have real childhoods, and live happily. And for them to be cheerful children, like I was.
What’s the best thing about being a foster parent?
That I also get to go back to my childhood - that I steal some childhood for myself, and that I have somebody to share it with.
What does Ronie like to do?
Most of all, we like to feel happy.
One of our favourite things is to take care of our pets, who are also rescued. I’m raising her to help those who are weaker, those who are in need.
We take care of our pets. We go to the mountains. We watch movies. We love doing everything together. And, most of all, to cook.
What is Ronie’s favourite thing to cook and eat?
Muffins, and sushi.
How has she changed since she came to live with you?
She has changed a lot. She has completely changed - her appearance, the way she feels, her self-confidence.
She’s changed how she feels about herself. When she came to live with me, she couldn’t tell if she was a girl or a boy. She wouldn’t want to look the mirror, while now they are best friends.
What do you hope for her future?
First of all, I want her to be happy. I want her to become a good human being.
No matter what she chooses as a profession, whatever road she takes, I will support her anyway.
And why do you think it is important that children are raised in families?
There is nothing in the world that can replace a family. To grow up in a healthy environment. To receive true love. To feel that you are treated in a special way. And to be an individual, and get what you deserve.
I would say that, for children, family is the window to the future.
*Ronie's name has been changed to protect her identity