“Caring for these children is my life”

On her Instagram account Pleeggezin_van_Jan_Steen, Sietske (58) posts almost daily messages about the eight boys she receives with her husband, Fred. “I want to make a different sound. Not more positive, not more negative, but what it is.”

Setsk (58): “Actually, I’m a little tired of all those negative reports of the poor state of youth care, dysfunctional foster families, and children caught between two chairs. We have different experiences. That’s why I wanted to make a different voice heard. Not more positive, And no more negative, just as it is. I should probably start an Instagram account, I suggested to my now big daughter Nadia. She said: “Nice, but you need permission from your adoptive children’s parents for that. You also have to come up with a catchy name, what What do you think of Jan Sten Foster’s family? Fantastic. I was instantly excited. Not because it’s a mess here at home, definitely not. But we are a big family with eight boys. There’s always something going on here at home. We’d never say a dull moment. This name fits.
I gave it to the boys and their parents. It’s funny that everyone immediately thought it was a good idea. One mother even said recently that she loves him so much that she can now watch what her child is doing on a typical day, on weekends and during holidays. She literally said, “I feel more involved with your family and I feel a little bit more involved with him that way.” Very nice of course, although I didn’t think about it that deeply. Of course, now that I post videos, photos, and messages regularly, no one boys feels like it. Not a problem. Then they stay out of sight for a while. I only post things that everyone agrees with.”

This never again

“Fred and I actually ended up fostering an adoption by accident. We have two children together: Nadia, 34, and Raymond, 35. Nadia is pregnant with her first child, a boy. Raymond and his wife Lisbeth have two girls, Zoe and a girl. When our kids were Still in primary school we were greeted by a thirteen year old teenager from the area.We saw that he was not feeling well at home,and was sleeping at night in a new neighborhood under construction.Fred went to look for him and took him home.
At the time, this was called network placement. At first it was for a week. He ended up staying with us for seven months. That period was very difficult. Immediately we fell head over heels. For the first time we saw the police station and the court from the inside and we had to deal with school suspensions. A lot of what was not our world suddenly became our world. That took a while to get used to. So when the seven months were up, Fred and I looked at each other and said, “It won’t happen again.”
However, soon after, we decided to delve into foster care. Especially because it also gave us a good feeling that we could do something for this boy. We helped him get back on track a little bit. I wanted to see more results, but now I know: every little bit helps. Of all that he has seen and experienced in our home, something will always remain with us. Even if it was just a birthday celebration. To have someone sing to you or hang garlands. If this continues as a positive experience, such a boy may soon do the same for his children.”

outside the boat

“We wanted to help more kids, so we took a Foster Care beginners course and got our first lay. Girl. Crisis shelter. Very short. Then a brother and a sister followed, then three other kids at the same time. Often short term. And all It was in consultation with our children. We thought this was important, and they had a say in this. It was only when Nadia and Raymond left the house that we entered into long-running programs for several children. It turns out – this may sound a little strange – that we are very good with the neglected children in Everywhere who have already gone to various adoption addresses and family homes, but have no place to settle.
Eight boys, Dan and Noah, aged fifteen, Gabriel, Julian, Garrick and Delano, currently live with us; They are all fourteen. Joel and Mattan are eleven. We don’t live in a very spacious house. In fact, it is a stepped corner house with an extension in the side and back. We divided the spaces cleverly. Usually you are not allowed to accommodate such a large number in one family, but in good consultation with the municipality and youth welfare, it is allowed here.
They are often asked why we can provide a home for these boys. The answer is simple: we expect nothing of them. Babies need structure, warmth, and security, and we can give them that. stability too. These are important conditions to be able to do it right. In addition, I accept from the children that they are. I don’t expect them to suddenly love me, let alone call me mom. Most of them have a father and a mother, I am Setsky. ”


“What you notice is that most of them have already been through a lot before they came here. They come with a backpack. I never suppose a kid is grateful when it comes to living here. Quite the opposite. Most kids don’t want to be here at all at first and say that They’d rather just live at home, wouldn’t it make sense?
I give boys – we have girls too, but we only receive boys now – they always come here first to get used to it. We call it the honeymoon. Often things go well during that time because everything is still new. Then, there comes a time when they are agitated, angry, or even aggressive at times. One has bouts of yelling, and the other scolds and hits or breaks things. Sometimes there is no land to sail with. I don’t take that personally. Not even when they scolded me. I let bad words slip away. If you keep doing this long enough, you will notice that they have stopped this behavior.
By the way, every child is different, so there is no standard way of parenting or responding. One needs a hug when angry, and the other needs a warning or reprieve. The one thing I often say anyway is that I understand them, but I hope that despite everything we can achieve it together. Such a relationship always ends with five people. Of course, not everything is surprisingly good. Sometimes it just goes wrong after an hour. This takes time, energy and patience. Lots of patience. Therefore, the adopted child is given at least one year to land here. Three months later, you can’t really tell if something is going to work or not. You don’t know the child yet.”

worst nightmare

“With the eight boys they have from now, it’s a lot of fun. Although of course that was different at first. There’s also good communication with the parents. Something like that has to grow. In the beginning, of course, it was me who took their child. Away. That’s how you feel for them. I understand that very well. In fact, I think that if my children were expelled, I would be an adoptive mother’s worst nightmare. Hot white I would be. However, we gradually build a trusting relationship with the parents. They only visit their children here in Our home. Most of them now say: “It’s horrible that my child is in foster care, but I am happy that he is with Fred and Sittsk.” A true compliment. Once the bond is established, you can also involve the parents more in the upbringing. While in contact with the parents, I try not to judge what is wrong It happened in the past. Children don’t live with us for nothing, of course, but I mainly focus on what is now.”

a big family

“The intention is for the boys to leave the house only when they are ready. This is possible with eighteen, but also with twenty-three. Fred and I are trying to give the boys here as normal a life as possible until then. And the feeling that we are ‘one big family.’ The eight go. We all go to school or have friends or participate in sports or work in their spare time.They are not brothers and I don’t feel that way.They only stand up for each other like brothers when something goes wrong in school.
Because regularity is important to them, every day of the week for everyone here starts at seven in the morning. Then we have breakfast together. After dinner, they help clean, clean the table, sweep the floor and wash the dishes. Then they go out the door. Unique too. Sprayer still works. I myself am always at home for the boys. Plus, because I hear and see everything. Taking care of these children is my life, it gives me energy.
Fortunately, we arranged it in such a way that we can go out together regularly. To the theater, to have dinner with friends or to attend a concert. The municipality has given us hours when we can hire a professional babysitter. Luxurious, but also essential, or else it won’t last. “

Concerned theories

‘Three years ago Fred was diagnosed with cancer. It had an effect. Also on the boys. They asked, ‘What if Fred died, should we leave?’ I didn’t want to keep up with appearances. Everything will be fine. Have faith.’ Fortunately, Fred has really improved. He was out of circulation for only six months due to chemotherapy and then went back to work, went fishing with the boys and fixed the tires as usual. However, I was still at home seeing anxious looks around me for a long time when Fred coughed or He went to bed early. “Are you alright?” the boys will ask.
That period was difficult for me, too. I remember driving from the hospital with Fred once and it was all too much for me. I started screaming and cursing. All the way back. At home I immediately thought: I’m not feeling well. I act like boys. The next day, I went to my GP and had EMDR treatment for shock – which was a unique disease to me. That period was very educational. eye opener; This is how boys feel when they get angry, I thought. helpless. They don’t know what to do. Because of what I’ve experienced myself, I now understand them better.”

Wrong truck

“Fred and I have taken care of a total of 36 children over the years. Some of them still come to visit us. One eats once a week, another visits birthdays or family parties. There is still contact with our first ‘network’ child.” Alright. Just as with many other people. Although a little has lost its way too. I am very worried about it. I also compare. Because even if I wanted to, I couldn’t save the whole world.
My Instagram account is working fine. I feel like I’m putting the “real story behind the nursery” on the map. In the meantime, I get a lot of questions from people considering foster care or from fellow adoptive parents who want to quarrel with me about something. These connections are valuable and I note that I like to think with others. What I want to convey to the outside world, and certainly to my children, is that we have to look around. It is good to do something for others. To be hospitable and open your home. My children have become social creatures and they adore us eight. All I have to do is call them and they are ready. I’m pround of it “.

Follow Sietske? See on Instagram: foster family_van_jan_steen

Text: Jolanda Hovland
Photo: Yasmigen Tan
Make-up: Wilma Schulte

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