There might always come a time in your life when you start loving strangers, sometimes more than your own family. The easiest example is the marriage between 2 people who have been strangers to each other during most of their individual lives or friends since forever. What about a stranger that comes to live with a family that is not theirs? Rebecca Brown, a white British atheist, was welcomed in a Pakistani Muslim foster family: “I wouldn’t have anyone else to call family.”
After a bad past comes a fresh start
Children, young adults, and other vulnerable individuals who are in the foster care system generally come from a broken family, sent to a new one. Their heart-breaking backgrounds incite the need for more attention and better care. Both bad and good stories are told, illustrating how foster care might impact people. However, the former is most presented. Enough examples to tell us that foster carers can have a negative impact on their foster child’s lifestyle.
Luckily, Rebecca Brown is not among them. As a White British atheist, she has been living with her Pakistani Muslim foster parents Shanaz and Muhammad since the age of 12. Now 18, she has continued to happily live with them, a new family, despite their ethnic, cultural, and religious differences.
Though, the story has a happy conclusion, Rebecca didn’t always have it so easy. At school, she had to deal with remarks from her peers, telling her she was “living with terrorists” who possessed “explosives”. She didn’t take too much to heart and firmly states that she “wouldn’t have anyone else to call family”.
After hearing allegations made on a different Muslim foster family, Rebecca decided to voice her experience with her Muslim family to help stop the stereotyping of living with Muslims. Unfortunate stories of foster caretakers neglecting their children is not only due to their religion or cultural background. It’s mostly a lack of understanding in how to deal with young and vulnerable people who might not share the same cultural values.
Blood is not always thicker than water
These negative stories should not impact the number of Muslim families stepping into their role as foster caretakers. On the flipside even, there should be more Muslim households willing to take in foster children and youngsters since it has been estimated that each year 3,000 Muslim children are placed into foster care. The demand for similarities in ethnic and cultural background with these families is imaginable. It might help these children in their transition of living with different families, but of course, should not mean that a Muslim family shouldn’t accept a non-Muslim. As importantly, these Muslim families should learn how to care for foster children with a different background than theirs.
As Rebecca stated “they’re [her] mum and dad, not terrorists”. Let’s hope that one day the Muslim foster caretakers receive more support in their caring roles and encourage other Muslims families to consider this as an act of kindness.