Valerija opens her home and heart for children without parental care

Every child needs a family

Tina Dimic Raicevic
Valerija, a foster mother
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2018
14 November 2018

BAR, 14 November 2018 – Sixty-year-old Valerija Tomić from Bar is boldly opening the door to her home to children who need parental care. There are three girls growing up in Valerija’s home now.

The first time she heard about foster care was after the death of her sister and brother-in-law, when she started raising her nephew alongside her own son.

After they became independent and Valeria’s husband died, she was very lonely and decided to do something useful.

Valerija has created a home for children who need parental care, making the girls’ lives and her own life much more beautiful.

“I applied for a foster care programme at the Centre for Social Work and then I went through special training to get a certificate. Shortly thereafter two girls – sisters – came to my home. The older sister was 12 at the time, while the younger one was only six years old,” Valerija recalls.

I accepted them as if they were my own children, and I treated them the same way.

Valerija Tomic, a foster mother

Two and a half years ago, a girl with disabilities joined them, and Valerija once again opened her heart and home, even for those children whose upbringing is full of additional challenges.

“The girl came to me and was supposed to stay only temporarily until they found her a family to stay with. However, she fit in well and the Centre for Social Work could not find a family for her, because there are few families willing to accept a child with disabilities, so I told them that she could stay with us,” Valerija explains.

Valerija, a foster mother
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2018
Valeria tells that only those who love children and who are willing to commit to them as their own should be included in the foster care program, in Bar, in November 2018.

She recalls that the people around her were sceptical when she told them that she was going to take in a girl with disabilities.

“When I told my friends and neighbours that I was going to take in a girl with disabilities, everyone told me not to do it, and that I would not be able to take care of her because of my diabetes. However, despite many challenges, I have never regretted taking her in,” Valerija says.

She remembers that she was initially afraid of the new situation, because she did not know if she would be able to properly respond to the needs of a girl with disabilities.

At first, I wanted to enrol her in a school for children with disabilities in Podgorica, but I talked to a teacher who had known her since elementary school and she told me not to do that, so I enrolled her in a school here in Bar to train as a professional cook, and she did well.

Valerija, a foster mother

Valerija says, it was more difficult, because it seemed that the girl was a slow learner, but over time, the effort and love that she felt in her new home had a positive influence on her learning as well.

“Everybody says she has changed for the better so much in the past two years that they could not recognize her any longer,” Valeria indicates. At the Centre for Social Work, they know that the door to Valerija’s home is always open to children who at some point need a warm bed and safe place.

“I have told them that I am always available in situations where they do not know where to place a child. So, it would happen that they wake me up at 1 or 2 am, when, for example, they find an abandoned child. I would immediately get a bed ready in my room and wait for the child. A lot of young children have stayed with me,” Valerija recalls.

In all this, her friends and neighbours are helping her.

Valerija emphasizes that only those people who love children and who are willing to take care of them in the same way as they would take care of their own children should be included in the foster care programme.

She becomes sad when she realizes that the three of them will be leaving in the near future, but she is happy and proud as she watches them grow into responsible young people who will find their place in the world of adults with her support.