Friday, 22 February 2013

Mommy Kanga's and their Joeys

Mommy Kanga's and their Joeys
21 January 2013

There is a band of selfless women out there.  Women so generous of spirit and full of love, that they offer their homes and their hearts to babies in need.

These women all have children of their own.  Children requiring attention and love and an input in their lives.  Children of young ages, still needing lots of guidance, help with their homework, lifting and carting and heap loads of motherly love and enthusiasm too.

Yet, somehow or other, these women are able to dig deep.  They have hidden resources they’re able to tap into within themselves.  Resources allowing them to care for those out there who are vulnerable and unable to care for themselves.  They do this at a huge financial cost.  They invest emotionally and physically into babies they will never have the joy of seeing grow big.  Babies they learn to love within seconds of meeting them.  Babies who make deep footprints all over their hearts.  Babies who’s faces will linger with them forever more.

I salute them one and all.  For their bravery, their caring, their selflessness, their empathy, their dedication.  Most often these babies have special needs.  Many are preemies, requiring nearly hourly feeds.  Some go through a painful and excruciating process of cold turkey, trying to ditch their mother’s addictions they were subjected to in utero.  And even though they are so very, very little, these babies have been through some trauma too.  And I’m sure these leave emotional scars, subconsciously at least.  To be rejected by your birth mother for whatever means, is a hardship for any person, even little ones too.  Some have been abused and have been exposed to neglect.  No matter which way you look at it, they are taken away from what they know and are thrust into the arms of a stranger to them.

But, just as these Kanga moms love “their” new babies.  The babies love them too.  How could they not?  They now have a warm and cuddly, nurturing woman in their lives.  One who sees to their needs.  Not just the needs of hunger, comfort and warmth.  Their other somehow more basic needs too.  These women, feed these children emotionally.  Making them feel worthy of love.  With lots of kisses, hugs and cuddles too.  A woman who rejoices in her temporary gift of this baby in her life.  A woman who loves unconditionally.

I know two such women like this.  And they are hero’s in my eyes.  They understand the value of changing our world and making it a better place – one baby at a time.  They do this at a huge personal cost and great sacrifice.  Because with every new baby that comes into their lives, they grow a new heart of love for that child.  And once that child is taken from their care and placed into the arms of their forever Mommy and Daddy, that heart must surely ache.  And ache.  And ache some more.

Just imagine the energy invested in rearing a baby every single day for a few weeks, sometimes months on end?  Bathing, feeding, burping, changing, rocking to sleep, kissing, cuddling, carrying around.  And then all of a sudden you have to relinquish that child and your arms are empty once more.  Thank heavens for their own children who surely help to fill this void.

And thus, being a Kanga mom is actually a family commitment.  I look at my three beautiful kids and wonder how they would feel if the attention they were getting, suddenly had to be spread amongst four of them and not three (some Kanga moms even get twins to care for).  How would they cope?  I would need their help.  They’d need to help me to hold and to burp and give the odd bottle too.  They would also invest emotionally into this new little baby.  Heart ache for them would also surely follow.  But perhaps as a child, these things are easier for them to accept.  Also they go into it, being well prepared for the inevitable day when the new baby left.

I know with conviction that I could grow a whole bunch of new hearts for babies to love.  I don’t need them to come from my body for them to live in my heart.  But my Grantie knows this too.  I have spoken to him about it, and he rightly feels that the emotional strain of separation from these babies would be too great for me.  That I would mourn their loss and their weight from my arms.  That I would invest myself fully and be shattered afterwards.  He knows me too well.  I would beg and plead for each baby to stay.  And they are only ever meant to be in your life temporarily.  You are just caring for them in the interim until their forever Mommy and Daddy steps into their lives.  Their true parents forever more.

And so, whenever I see one of these Kanga mommies around, I hijack their babies for a wee little bit.  I cuddle and I hug.  I kiss and admire them.  These perfect little gifts.

But I have come to realise, that I need not feel hopeless and like I’m not making a difference, just because I can’t have a baby in my home.  Because I can help.  I can make a difference.  I can ease the plight of these babies and their Kanga mommies too.  They receive a measly R13 per day from the government for these children in their care.  One of my Kanga friends has been doing it for over a year and is still waiting to see even a single cent.  She’s had four babies so far.  Taken them into her home and her heart.  Two single babies and a set of twins.  All of these babies have been sickly and needed medical care.  She had to foot this bill.  At her own expense she had to get a pram, a cot, a car seat.  Baby bedding and clothing.  Formula and baby food, once they go onto solids.  Nappies, baby shampoo, wet wipes too.  As well as the myriad of other things you need to care for a baby.  Those of us out there who are moms, know exactly how much stuff one just seems to need.

Yesterday I bumped into this Kanga mom.  And her heart is sore.  The twins went to their forever parents the day before.  Emotionally she is drained and needs to regroup and recoup.  Physically she is tired from caring for two.

A big challenge she says is funding.  They have moms out there who really want to take on babies and be Kanga's too, but the financial burden is too big.  Others who are Kanga's also take strain because of the costs.  She gets the odd donation, but says that funding is a problem.  She has dedicated a space in her home, for donations and supplies.  But her shelves remain pretty bare.  Apart from all of the babies they are looking for temporary homes for, there are a whole bunch of bigger kids needing care too.  Kids floating in the system, being bounced around and that are deemed to be not viable for adoption because of their health or their circumstances.  These kids also deserve so much better than the hand life has dealt them.  And so, they try and do what they can to make them feel special and loved.  Presents for Christmas and their birthdays, Easter eggs for Easter.  She says that they need people to help.  In fact they’re desperate for it.  One box of marshmallow Easter eggs, put in your trolley when you do your grocery shopping, does not hurt your pocket so.  But that single box, can give 48 children a smile on Easter Sunday.

And therefore I have told her, that I will gladly donate one box of Easter eggs for those little kids.  But the needs do not stop there.  And one thing I know to be true - people need direction.  To be told exactly what they need to do to help.  Many out there are willing I’m sure.  But practical, specific and forthright instructions are essential.

I, Helene Cloete, hereby pledge to donate one tin of Baby Formula every month.  I will give it to my friend in her hand and feel good for doing it.  Knowing I’ve made a difference.

I may not get to hold one of these babies in my arms and have them in my home, but they’ve walked across my heart none the less. 

We all can help to make the world a better place, one tin of Baby Formula at a time.  And if Baby Formula is not your thing, then there’s nappies, or wet wipes.  Bottles, dummies, soap, Purity, clothing too.

I would like to challenge anyone out there to join me on my quest.  I will gladly supply the name and number of my friend.  Feel free to contact her and ask her what she needs.  And if a monetary donation is easier, then there’s bank account for you to make a deposit in to.  In a perfect world, companies step up to the plate.  And offer to a monthly commitment for the care of a child.

Just think how much better you’ll sleep tonight, knowing that there is a baby out there who is warm, fed and cared for, partially due to you.

And so today, I bought my first tin.  I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.  I have helped to fill one baby’s belly and that makes me just feel so good. 

You don’t need to be the one holding the baby to make a difference in that child’s life.  Even if you’re just the one supplying the formula or the nappies, you’ve done good.

For you brave Kanga mommies out there and your families too – all I can say is Thank You!


  1. Thank you! As a Kanga mom, I can only say "Amen!" to what you say! Yes, we do grow a special heart of love for each baby and sometimes that heart keeps sharing love because some forever parents appreciate us enough to keep contact. But the ache for a baby you have loved unconditionally and never hear from again just seems to grow and grow! Yet, we do it all over again and love each baby with a new heart and rejoice with the forever parents when their dreams of a family finally come true!

  2. Thank you for such an amazing and heart-felt article. As a team we can all make a HUGE difference, whether it is physically caring for these miracles, stolen hugs & kisses, donations, whatever form or means, it really is all for the same cause and benefit!

    I remember your thoughtful & thankful contribution to us Kanga's last year when you gave us a HUGE crate filled with baby toiletries and wet wipes (products) - even hunting me down on a busy road, both of us between two school runs :-)

    My husband honestly knew that my heart would never cope with the heart-ache & personal pain of the good-bye and YES each & every bab, being it OURS or another Kanga's creeps into our hearts & lives and we sob for days on end before / during and after they leave us to start their journey with their forever families BUT the rewards is FAR greater than the loss! I am as emitional as they come (+ some more) but I cannot imagine my life (for this season) being without a Kanga baby! Each baby that we are blessed with as a family, the children & I BEG and pray to keep them forever (but fortunately LAW prohibits us to - signed & sealed agreement)!

    I watch my "cool" 14 year old taller than me teenage son, go all mushy & play, feed, kiss & cuddle these babies, sneak them from their cot into his 'private digs' to play music to them, to BOUNCE and love them. Yes this big boy of mine - the one that gets embarassed EVERY DAY by his mother ..................... in fact he BBM'd me just the other day (after seeing me waiting in the car - already down the road from school) to please meet him around the corner - to which my response was - Oh hell no - get in or walk - cruel mother!

    My beautiful 12 year old princess, with her motherly instincts already set in, also gives her heart & soul to these angels, I am amazed how woman are instinctively "designed" to love, care for and nuture!

    Then my busy, out-going, on the go 11 year old son, who also melts when he is near the baby - he may not carry them around longer than 5 minutes but he there as soon as they beep, to comfort, stick the dummy in or yell - MOM ------------ baby needs you.

    I have watched my Kanga friends and their families (especially the dads), how they all just adapt to having a newborn in the house and I amazed and over-whelemed with love & pride. Craig complains from time to time (when he is not traveling) - - - - THIS IS THE LAST BABY - - - - and then we get that phone call to fetch a precious bundle, and I ask his permission and he says - SURE BABES :-)

    So yes - in reality their are enormous needs - just to mention - on the financial side - it is huge - as all parents know! From clothing, formula, nappies, baby toiletries, blankets, prams, car seats, bottles, sterlizers, medical bills, and the LIST goes on. I had the kids give me their pocket money back the other day & I said WHY - you not in trouble (are you?) and they said no mom - it is for our baby, yeck if they can do it - so can ALL of us together.

    I have watched in awe how my friend has cared for twins and another friend cared for 2 babies at the same time (being born 10 days apart), how their husband & children all jump in to help, even though at times, they are FORCED into the deal! When a baby goes, we often say - okay - it is time to take a month off, and then a couple of days pass and we get that call & we rush to collect the next bundle, not knowing what we are in for, 60 / 90 / 120 days of no sleep, pooh nappies, colic, etc, I think we need HELP in more ways than finacial (hee, hee)!

    I am not such an great writer but I hope I have added something special to your blog. Thank you for the awareness and taking the time to share what is on your heart! I am sitting her with tears streaming down my cheeks with both happiness and sadness, gratitude and appreciation to all those wonderful people out there who make a difference in one way or another.

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