From child to parent:

Marina Bauman spent some of her childhood in foster homes, and several other years in two different adoptive ones. Now as an adult, she has reversed the role–she and husband, Glen, are one of 43 foster parents in Rainy River District.
It’s been a long road getting to where she is today, one that starts with her birth parents. Her father was a taxi driver, her mother was mentally handicapped. That’s all she knows.
At age three, Bauman became a ward of the Crown. What happened prior to that, she has no idea. One agency said neighbours reported a child screaming a lot as an infant. Another told her both parents brought her to the agency claiming they couldn’t look after her.
“So I got different versions as to what really happened. I know who my biological mother is by name only,” she said from the couple’s Stratton home.
“I know nothing of where she is, or even if she’s alive any more,” she added. “She was mildly retarded is what they have said.”
Bauman stayed with her first adoptive parents for six years, with four other children also in that home. Only one of the children was their own.
Born with a kidney disease, Bauman had what she called “radical problems” in her childhood–leaving her unable to walk or even crawl at the age of three.
There also was a lot of stress in the home, and the adoptive mother was abusive toward her. Her adoptive father, though, she remembers as a “wonderful man.”
“Still to this day, there’s something about him that when I’ve gone to visit draws me to him,” she said. “My first adoptive father was a Christian man, his wife was not. And there were radical problems within the home because of that.”
She felt the demands associated with her kidney disease, and the attention her adoptive father gave her because of that, caused her adoptive mother to become jealous and led to the abuse.
She doesn’t know how it happened but a social worker checked in and realized something was drastically wrong in the family.
“I was almost immediately removed from the home,” she noted.
For a year after that, Bauman was placed in two different foster homes, which she said were two very good experiences for her.
“Family and Children Services, of course, their motto is generally to try and keep the family together where and whenever it is possible. And so I was returned to the [adoptive] home after that year,” she explained.
Things went well for a few months but pretty soon the abuse returned.
Once again, Bauman was placed in foster homes for almost a year. Workers asked her what kind of home she wanted to be placed in but stressed they were trying to be both fair and realistic at the same time–it was difficult for an 11-year-old to be adopted.
“I can remember being in a room, and being asked to sign these papers, and freezing. I was so scared to go through this whole process again,” she admitted.
But what she really wanted was to be put in a family where she was the baby, noting in her first adoptive home the youngest–the parents only biological child–was treated differently.
“I thought it was just an awesome thing to be the youngest. I mean, he seemed to get away with everything,” she laughed. “I wanted a permanent family.”
Sure enough, she found what she was looking for. Her new adoptive parents, who already had two older sons, wanted to have a girl but felt they were too old to go through the diaper stage again.
Despite her adoption, Bauman admitted she’s tried to find out more about her biological parents.
“My ultimate goal in life would be to see my real mother but not like you and I having a conversation. I would like to go in a room where there were other people and have someone point her out to me,” she said, explaining she was curious about the physical similarities she misses out on being adopted.
“I just very curious to know ‘do I look like somebody?’ I think a lot of adoptive children must have that feeling,” she said. “I don’t know. I sure do.”
Bauman still battles kidney disease, which has left her unable to have children of her own at this time.
“I have an urge to have that little girl that has mommy’s eyes. I want to have that identity thing. It’s a big, big deal to me,” she stressed.
< B>< *c>Bringing back memories
Unable to picture their home without the “pitter patter of little feet,” the Baumans started the foster parenting process with Family and Children Services here last Nov. 4. And she felt her past experiences have helped her relate to the children coming into her home.
“Certain situations just bring back memories,” she admitted, adding it was good for her because she never had a negative experience in a foster home.
And she remembered how the first foster child who came into their home was on his best behaviour.
“He was what they call in a honeymoon stage,” she said. “And it brought back memories because I can remember being in the same position. I can relate to how he was feeling.
“He must have had a feeling of insecurity because he had been ripped from his home and brought to perfect strangers, just as I had been.
It’s a terrible feeling to go to bed that first night in a stranger’s home,” she admitted. “But with the right kind of home, and the right kind of people, it can be a good experience.
“Because I know what it’s like to be there and feel very much alone.”
With any child that comes into their home, the Baumans have tried to make him or her feel as much at home in the first three or four days as possible.
She felt her experience in foster homes gives her a different perspective and helps her to relate to the children, allowing her to take a step back and remember what emotions she went through and why.
When a foster child says, “I miss my mom,” she pointed out her heart can’t help but feel for him or her.
“You do your best to fill that spot but never do you really, I don’t think, ever fill it.”
But because she herself was bounced around different homes as a child, Bauman noted she had a hard time allowing herself to get attached to foster children.
“I feel I have to battle that,” she admitted. “It’s very hard to let my heart into it. I know for him, too, he’s probably wondering if he’s going to be moved somewhere else.
“I think every foster child goes through that.”
With the foster children who come into their home, the couple tries to provide the best care for the short term until they reach the ultimate goal, which is to put the family unit back together.
But with one child in their home since they first became foster parents a year ago, Bauman admitted it was very hard not to let her heart into it.
“He’s a perfect little guy. To lose him, to us now, would be to lose our own child,” she said.
“Truthfully, it’s filling a big hole in my heart, where I’ve wanted to have children in my home. It fills a big, big hole.
“It’s been a very rewarding experience for us.”