‘This is what it’s all about’: Pickering family fosters children in Durham Region

There continues to be a need for more foster families in Durham Region.

One Pickering couple recently decided to go that route to help make a difference in children’s lives.

While they say it’s been a learning experience, it has come with a lot of help.

Annasha and Sean Martin love kids and have always wanted a big family. For the past five years, their family has been growing through fostering children.

“There are a lot of kids out there who need us. We can give to them, so why not just go that route?” said Annasha Martin.

“If I could have 20 kids that’s what it would have been, but fostering has opened up the opportunity for us,” said Sean Martin.

The Martins have a biological daughter. Shayla is nine years old and was diagnosed with autism when she was two.

“We decided not to have any more biological kids, and because we wanted to grow our family, fostering to adopt was a no-brainer for us,” said Annasha Martin.

So far they’ve welcomed in seven children with open arms, most of them on relief (short-term care).

“We do not know what these kids’ backgrounds are — it could be a kid who came into care last night and they’re placed in your house the following day,” said Annasha Martin. “But this is what we signed up for and not only that, we have the support from our workers and Durham Children’s Aid Society in general.”

They say it’s been a rewarding adventure.

“Teaching them to ride their bike the first time, swimming, you can tell the need when a child comes back to you,” said Sean Martin. “Our 13-year-old right now, she came back to me the other day and asked me when she gets her licence is she going to be able to drive to her friend’s house.”

The Durham Children’s Aid Society is looking to recruit 25 new foster homes this year. It has 340 kids in care, and just 112 homes.

“We’re looking for a diverse pool of foster parents so we can provide a better matching for our children that come into our care,” said Maxim Kryukov, Durham CAS residential services director.

As for the Martins, they take in children with special needs.

They say fostering children is certainly for them.

“If I could say we’ve done anything important in life, this is it,” said Sean Martin. “This is what it’s all about.”

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