Granny – the woman who fostered 20+ children

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With selfless love, Hazel King has dedicated her life to fostering over twenty children as a single mother. With two of her own, Hazel has shaped the lives of many, though she never intended to become a foster mother in her younger years.

Hazel is no stranger to hard work. She raised her two children, born a year apart as a single mum working a day job while baking or doing cake deliveries at night. While her son was 3 months old, her mother suffered from a stroke and Hazel also took her in to take care of her. She juggled all of her responsibilities with grace. ‘I didn’t study anything, I just did what I had to do,’ says Hazel who also in later years opened her own art and craft school.

A devout Christian, Hazel’s petite stature and gentle spirit hides a fierce strength that empowers her to help others in need and to serve the children she mothered. In speaking to Hazel, one can not help but sense a deep faith that takes bold action when needed. This faith led her to intervene many years ago when a helpless father knocked on her door for assistance.

Hazel recalled that in her neighbourhood there was a woman who had eight young children who one day left them and never returned. The children ended up roaming the streets at night and neighbours called the Child Care Board (CCB) to intervene. One morning as Hazel was at home she heard a knocking at her door and when she opened it, she saw the children’s father asking her to come. The CCB was removing the girls from the house to place them in a children’s home.

That incident would become the defining moment when Hazel would begin the lifelong journey of taking care of children who were not her own. She immediately asked if she could care for one of the girls; just a few weeks prior to, the mother of the children had asked Hazel to be godmother for one of her daughters. Despite her interest, she was informed that there was a process to follow and she would need to be vetted before that could happen.

Eventually, following the CCB’s process, Hazel received her goddaughter and thus the journey of fostering began. However, shortly thereafter, Hazel received the grim news that she had cancer and was given six months to live. Concerns of whether she would be able to continue fostering came to her mind. While sick in bed, she recalled telling God that she would always do what he wanted her to do with the best of her ability if he gave her a second chance at life. Opting for surgery, she made a quick recovery that shocked the doctor defying his prognosis of death. “I never let it be a challenge for me I challenged that, ” she chuckles some twenty-three years later.

With that behind her, Hazel opened her door to another child; her god daughter’s brother whom she also raised as her own. After observing her loving home environment, the CCB kept asking Hazel to foster more children and thus the journey continued. She always made room in her home and her heart for one more.

One day Hazel overheard two children fretting outside; a sister was trying to get her brother who was lying on the ground to go to school but he refused. Even though she didn’t know the children, she intervened, got a twig and gave him ‘3 good ones’ before sending him to school.

Shortly after this incident, Hazel was helping at church when she overheard a little girl say, “Mummy that is the lady who beat my brother.” Hazel froze uncertain as to what would happen next. The woman came over and asked, “Is it you that beat my child?” Hazel confirmed that it was indeed the case and to her surprise the woman told her that if she ever saw her son misbehaving and refusing to go to school, to do it again.

Hazel became very involved in this family’s life and in fact ended up raising all 3 of the woman’s children and the boy who refused to go to school, is now a grown man who credits Hazel with ensuring that he got an education and ‘making him a man.’

Hazel believes that such discipline is necessary and once done in love brings no harm to the children. “In fact, they appreciate you for it,” says Hazel. The children who come to her home from the community or from the nearby primary school on evenings call her ‘granny’ and just enjoy being around her.

This Octogenarian credits her deep faith in God for allowing her to foster children with the same love she gave to her own. But, Hazel explains she didn’t do it alone. In her words, she simply allowed God’s love to be poured out to the children.

She is proud of all the children she helped to raise, noting that some have gone on to be in the medical or legal fields, others have gone abroad, some have built their own homes, and acquired some measure of wealth and for her that is the greatest satisfaction – that these children were given the care needed to make a life for themselves.

Hazel’s word of advice to all who would take it, “if you are considering what to do with your life, don’t look at what people are doing and try to copy them; whatever you do, do it with love and do it because it’s the will of God for you.”

 

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Hazel surrounded by loved ones at her 80th birthday celebrations.

For more information on fostering a child, contact, the Child Care Board at 535-2800.

 

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