CYPRESS COUNTY, AB — Robin Kurpjuweit’s house is a busy one.
It’s just before 4 o’clock when his children jump off the school bus and come bounding through the front door.
The kids greet their parents with hugs and kisses as homework spills onto the dining table.
It doesn’t take long before they’re building a blanket fort in the living room.
“We’re the people who like forts and stuff,” said Malakai, “and hiding.”
It’s an easy way to play and he said it’s better than the alternative.
“All of them like Barbie, so I’m always that guy who wants to play with people and make them happy so I do what they want,” the 11-year-old added.
He’s referring to the six little girls his family has fostered over the last two years.
Robin and his wife knew they’d had their family but a TV series helped inspire them into fostering.
“I kind of liked the idea of being able to help other kids and so I went to my wife and said ‘honey, have you ever thought about fostering?’ She exploded into tears and I knew at that moment that she had,” Robin said.
“Our kids, they grew up caring and loving and wanted to help other people,” he added. “This was a really good way that as a family, they could do that.”
Robin said the initial conversation with their three children went well and the kids were excited.
“There wasn’t a shadow of doubt for them. Until they had to share their room,” he said, laughing.
“I was totally willing to give up my room or to bunk in with Malakai for a foster kid ,‘cause I thought this would be super awesome” said Judah, 13.
The youngest, Emereese, admits she didn’t know what to expect.
“My mom always said just help out, do your best, be you,” the 10-year-old said.
The family attended an orientation with McMan and after the three-day information session, began filling out the paper work to make sure they fit the list of criteria.
“We need people that have a stable home, stable job, stable finances, stable relationships,” said Shannon Nelson, program supervisor with McMan. “You can be single, you can be married, divorced, that we’re not worried about, but it has to be stable.”
Nelson said the organization is always looking for families to foster.
She adds that it isn’t for everyone. One of the biggest challenges can be navigating through the government system.
“You are not the guardian,” she said. “Foster parents are only the day to day care providers. The social worker is the guardian and sometimes that’s shared guardianship with the biological parent. So then that’s when it gets difficult because there’s a lot of people making decisions.”
Nelson adds that the end goal is always to reunite the child with their family, which can make saying goodbye the hardest part of all.
“I get sad, emotional, tear up, cry,” said Malakai. “All those feelings, like getting angry and stuff, upset that they have to go.”
“Sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t always feel good,” Robin said. “We come back to that over and over again and we choose to live in conflict sometimes.”
“You’ve got to remember that they’re actually going back to their actual family who love them so much,” said Judah.
All of the experiences the family has shared over the last two years has only strengthened how they love.
“Our capacity for love is greater,” Robin added. “That’s something that’s absolute. There’s no question about that.”
McMan is hosting an orientation October 26-28 for anyone interested in learning more about fostering or adopting.
Registration for the weekend is required.
For more information, contact Shannon Nelson at 403-527-1588 ext. 226 or visit their website.
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