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Foster children add to family's festive joy

Ms Siti Raziah Raffee, her husband Kevin Woo and one of their three foster children having a Zoom call with their extended family recently. Ms Siti's cousins are also fostering children.
Ms Siti Raziah Raffee, her husband Kevin Woo and one of their three foster children having a Zoom call with their extended family recently. Ms Siti's cousins are also fostering children. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SITI RAZIAH RAFFEE

This year's Hari Raya Aidilfitri feels different to Ms Siti Raziah Raffee.

Joining in the celebration with her husband, their three foster children and their extended family were some new additions.

Her twin cousins and their spouses have recently become foster parents themselves and all of them met virtually yesterday.

Siblings Nurasikin Ashari and Mohammad Asiek Ashari credit Ms Siti and her husband Kevin Woo as their inspiration to start fostering.

With no children of their own, Ms Siti and Mr Woo began fostering in 2013. "We know there are parents who need help and, if we can help to care for their children, we want to be there for them," said Ms Siti, 49, an occupational health and safety nurse.

The couple are fostering three boys aged five, seven and eight.

Mr Asiek, 40, and his dental nurse wife Zaina Zainal, 43, started fostering a toddler, now aged two, last July. They do not have any biological children.

Mr Asiek, an electrical engineer, decided after discussion with his wife to go for it. Raising a baby boy has not been without challenges. "This is the first time we have to wake up in the middle of the night and check diapers," said Ms Zaina.

But the journey has been rewarding. They are filled with happiness when he calls them "papa" and "mama".

Mr Asiek's twin, Ms Nurasikin, an administrative executive, and her civil servant husband Mohamad Fairus Jaafar took in a four-year-old girl in January.

While they were unable to meet physically for Hari Raya Puasa, Ms Siti and her extended family had a videoconference call yesterday.

"The important thing is to stay home and stay safe. We will still have Hari Raya dishes and have the atmosphere," she said.

All three couples will be sharing their fostering experiences in an online session on June 20 from 3.30pm to 5.30pm. Interested individuals can call 6354-8799, WhatsApp 9645-8231 or e-mail fostering@msf.gov.sg

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2020, with the headline Foster children add to family's festive joy. Subscribe