updated 5 Oct 2010, 08:12
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Fri, Oct 01, 2010
The New Paper
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Goodbye is the hardest thing
by Amanda Yong

THE little girl wanted to leave the two giant stuffed toys she had been carrying in her step-aunt’s van.

“You have to take them along. You’re not coming back,” the step-aunt, Mary, told her.

So the little girl did as she was told, clutching the pink and purple toys tightly in her tiny arms.

The little girl is Sarah, six.

It was Tuesday, and she was going to the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) building, where she will be taken to her new foster parents.

This was more than seven months after her mother, Kate, left her with another relative, Jane, and became uncontactable.

When Jane was arrested for involvement in loan-sharking activities last month, Sarah’s step-aunt, Mary, took her in and cared for her.

We are not using their real names as Sarah is a minor.

Sarah’s story, which was first reported in The New Paper 1½ months ago, drew responses from more than 30 readers.



Touched by her plight, some donated money and gifts. Others offered to adopt her or care for her temporarily.

A few visited her at Mary’s home and two of them have even become friends with Mary.

On Monday night, one of them turned up at Mary’s flat to say goodbye to Sarah.

While the little girl could barely understand what all the fuss was about, Mary was moved by the response to Sarah’s situation.

“Please help me to thank the readers for all their concern,” she told The New Paper.

For Mary, 34, saying goodbye to Sarah was not easy.

The decision to place her step-niece in foster care was a difficult one.

“It’s going to be harder for me than for her,” said the customer service officer when The New Paper was at her three-room Ang Mo Kio flat earlier this month.

“Young children have short memories. They forget easily.”

When contacted, MCYS confirmed that Sarah is now in foster care.

“The necessary support and assistance will be rendered to the child for her growth and development,” the MCYS spokesman said.

Foster care is usually a short-term arrangement for a child whose parent or guardian is unable to look after him due to ill-health or if a child has been abandoned, neglected or ill-treated by his parent or guardian.

The child keeps his own identity, such as his own name, and continues to be the legal child of his biological parents.

Mary said MCYS contacted her late last month to ask her to take Sarah to the MCYS office the next day.

“They said it was for the handover to the foster family,” Mary said. “I was shocked. I asked, why so sudden?”

The MCYS officer said that Sarah’s mother, Kate, had discussed the matter with them and given her consent for Sarah to be cared for by a foster family.

Mary told them she was not ready to hand Sarah over and asked for another date.

“I said no way. It’s not just that (Sarah) cannot take it,” she said. “I cannot take it.”

But she took Sarah to meet the MCYS officer the next day.

“The officer said she could see that (Sarah) is very close to me and asked me if I wanted to be her foster parent. They can assist me financially if I needed it,” she said.

Mary deliberated over it and consulted her friends. She was torn but realised she could not cope with taking care of Sarah.

>> NEXT: She needs the right environment 



readers' comments
Besides the necessary capacity and capability that the foster family has, I hope they have the most important criteria as well: love.

Though Sarah is only 6 years old and may have short memory spans, what she has gone through, though short in terms of a human life span, shows a lack of true love for a child. At the very most important for any child, her real parents, due to unplanned and unforeseeable circumstances had brought her to this world. Every child needs to be loved, not with words but from actions. Sarah has been deprived with this love and psychologically speaking, there is a certain amount of permanent damage done onto her little world. Even though she will be living with a foster family, the love that she will receive will not be the same as the love that a child gets from real .....
Posted by fire_extinguisher on Tue, 5 Oct 2010 at 01:40 AM
It is better to have a better life while she is still young
So I shouldn't & wouldn't say it's the hardest thing to say goodby
It's the Goodest thing to say goodbye to hard life
Posted by HaHaHaHeHeHe on Sat, 2 Oct 2010 at 10:14 AM
MCYS finally completed all the red tape and put Sarah in proper care by foster family.

To Mary and the foster family,this is what I meant Singapore character and our national DNA.
This is "our brand" - helpful, empathy and caring whenever there is a need. Great job and I salute to you.

To Sarah, hopefully she grows from there with happy childhood, good education till PhD level. In return, helps others if possible.There are many good people around as far as Singaporean is concerned.
Posted by gigfunkel on Sat, 2 Oct 2010 at 09:50 AM

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