Ordinary family gives extraordinary love to foster child

2017/11/15 20:52:12 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Chang Hung-chi (張鴻祺, right) and his wife Kuo Chin-chin (郭巾錦, center)

Chang Hung-chi (張鴻祺, right) and his wife Kuo Chin-chin (郭巾錦, center)

By CNA staff reporter Kuo Chi-hsuan, staff writer Elizabeth Hsu

Chang Hung-chi (張鴻祺) and his wife Kuo Chin-chin (郭巾錦) are ordinary farmers in Pingtung County, southern Taiwan, who have been doing something extraordinary for the past two decades.

Since 1997, the couple has been providing a home for foster children on their fruit and vegetable farm in Jiuru Township.

Over the years, they have taken in 32 children, with the hope of providing a safe and warm home and creating a chance for a bright future, Kuo, 56, said in a recent interview with CNA.

"We've scattered many seeds over the land," she said. "There must be at least one that has grown into a tree."

One of those seeds has indeed flourished and has not forgotten her roots.

Lin Ching-mei (林靜玫) was nine years old when the non-profit Taiwan Fund for Children and Families (TFCF) arranged for her to live with the Changs.

According to TFCF volunteer Huang Shu-ling (黃淑玲), Lin was from a single-parent family that was unable to cope financially, therefore, Lin and her two siblings were put into foster care.

Lin went to the Changs' home, where she stayed for six months until her mother was able to have her back.

After Lin returned to her mother, she again went through a period of difficulty as she had no proper care, Huang said, citing Lin's account of her young life.

In fact, Lin's life after she left the Chang family was filled with tough challenges and frustrations, but she found the strength to keep trying and eventually began working as a store clerk in Taichung City, according to Huang.

What kept her going was her memory of her foster parents, the warmth of their home, and the love they showed her, Huang said.

Spurred by those memories, Lin, now 29, set off three times over the past year in search of the Changs.

"But I couldn't find their home no matter how hard I tried," she said. "Every time, I'd return to Taichung in tears."

Eventually, she visited the TFCF's Pingtung center, after she recalled that the organization had arranged her foster care.

Through the TFCF, she was able to reconnect on Nov. 9 with her foster parents.

"Thank you for taking care of me," she said, kneeling in front of the couple. "Without you, I may not have survived."

In tears, Lin wandered through the farmhouse where she once lived.

She recalled how good Chang was at making pastry and how Kuo always had a bowl of iced aiyu jelly flavored with lemon juice waiting when she returned from school.

Pointing at window on the second floor, Chang reminded Lin that she used to sit there every day, playing her beloved flute.

This year marked 20 years since Chang, 60, and Kuo began providing foster care services under the TFCF program in Pingtung.

Lin's visit was a special event that made the milestone even more meaningful, according to Huang.

Lin also attended a public event held by the local government on Nov. 11 to honor foster parents in the county.

"For years, you were on my mind and I often dreamed of returning to your home," Lin said at the event, tears running down her cheeks.

"Now I've finally found you. Life was not smooth when I was growing up but the love you gave me stayed as the most beautiful and unforgettable memory."

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