Back in 2000, Diane’s husband Jan heard on the radio that Peel Children’s Aid needed foster parents. With their four children now grown, he decided to make the call and after going through the training program, he and Diane became foster parents.
It would be four years later, while they were caring for three children in their home, that Diane’s husband became ill. Diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, he eventually lost his ability to walk. “Jan would just rock the baby in his arms while sitting in his wheelchair,” says Diane. “That baby wouldn’t calm down for anybody but him.”
The children they cared for became the grandchildren that her husband would never get the chance to meet as he died in 2005 before any of his biological grandchildren were born. And although it was initially his idea to foster, Diane never looked back. With the support of her children, who are now adults with families of their own, she has continued to care for infants and children involved with Peel Children’s Aid, specifically those with special needs.
“Caring for children with special needs isn’t always easy,” says Diane. “There is a lot to learn and many appointments with doctors, specialists, therapists and the school. However, if you have the time to do it, it is so rewarding. It’s an amazing feeling to know that they feel secure because you are involved in their life. They also make a difference in your life and your heart.”
Recently, Diane said goodbye to a little boy with down syndrome she had cared for since he was three months old. “He was such a loving little boy and was always happy. It was definitely hard to say goodbye but I know he will do great with his new family and three older siblings.”
Another toddler touched Diane’s heart a few years ago and she considered adopting him. While working on his life book, where important milestones are documented and given to adoptive parents, Diane realized she wanted to be the one to share it with him when he got older. “Then I got a call from my worker at CAS and she said they had found a family that were really interested in adopting him,” says Diane. “As soon as I met them I started to cry because I knew that they would be a perfect fit.” Years later she ran into the same little boy at a hair salon and he approached her without hesitation and asked “do I know you?” Turns out that he recognized her from the pictures in his life book.
Diane is still in contact with many of the kids who have spent time in her home. “My door is always open,” says Diane. “Sometimes they just pop by for a quick visit and have something to eat. They are always welcome.”
Currently Diane is caring for *Jordan who suffered a traumatic brain injury as an infant. During our interview with Diane, she helped him do puzzles, got him a bowl of Cheerios (his favourite), sang him a story and still managed to share her amazing story with us. Thank you Diane for all you do for the children involved with Peel CAS.
*name has been changed