Why is my child living with someone other than their parents?

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I see that Mother's Day and Father's Days are coming up. Normally, I would send a gift or card to our child's parents from us or something our sponsored child can color for them; however, it appears that there MAY be an unusual situation with our 9 year old girl from Togo. The information given to us when we started sponsoring her in January stated that she was living with friends. It made no mention of any family. Her introduction letter (a fill in the blank type format) has her mom, dad, and a brother's name filled in into the predesignated spaces. The letter states nothing about who she lives with. Is there a way to find out what is truly going on? I don't know why she would be living with friends if she does have family...Perhaps she is having relational problems with them? What would be appropriate for me to do as these special holidays come up? Should I try to ignore it and hope that she brings it up on her own in the coming years of letters? I don't want to upset her by asking a question if something is wrong? What do you think?
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Kimberly

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Posted 6 years ago

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Susan

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Official Response
Kimberly, I so appreciate that you care and have concern about your child and her situation! Hopefully, I can explain a little to put you at ease a bit. 

In most cases, when a child is living with someone else other than their parents and their parents are still alive, it is because the parents either are living in another area for work opportunities or they work very long hours just to make ends meet and are not able to really care for their child. The parents then would have a family member, family friend, or a youth hostel care for their child in their place. In these situations, they may go visit their parents on school breaks or their parents may come visit them for a time. I know that a situation like this is completely foreign. The parents of our sponsored children face some incredible challenges in poverty and the option of daycare is not really available in their context. They are trying to do the best they can in their very difficult circumstances. Regardless, we do look after the children and do frequent home visits to make sure that the child is doing alright and developing well. 

It is very likely that she has contact with her parents and sending a Father's or Mother's day card would be fine. That said, it is a good idea to be sensitive to all situations. We can definitely send an inquiry to verify the living situation that your child is in if you would like. Let me know if you would be interested in this. 
(Edited)
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Kimberly

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Yes, please verify! Maybe she and her brother are living with different friends? (He wasn't listed in the original information sent to us either.) I would love to know how best to send my love and support to her AND her family!...Kekeli Akou Agbotche TG9080195 Her birthday is coming up (April 22, 2005) She should be receiving her birthday card and gift soon!
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Susan

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Kimberly, I am sending an inquiry to Togo today. As soon as we receive a response (in approximately forty-five days), we will contact you with the results.
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Kimberly

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Thank you so much. I am looking forward to hearing from you! In the meantime, I will pray...
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Susan

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Kimberly, we just received a response from our field office in Togo. I'm sending the response to you in an email. 
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Marissa

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
My little girl's guardian.


I just became a correspondent for a little girl (HA3539989). Her information says that both parents are alive, but that her guardian is her aunt. Before I start writing her, I was wondering if there was any way of knowing if her biological parents are in the picture. I want to be careful how I approach asking her about her family life when I write to her. Any information or advice you can give me would be great! My sponsor number is 3297568.
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Susan

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Hi Marissa! I so appreciate your care and concern for this little girl and especially that you have chosen to pour love and encouragement into her life through your letters! Thank you for doing this! As I mentioned above to Kimberly, most often when someone else is caring for a child and their parents are still alive, it is because the parents have to work in another area or they work long hours and are not able to care for their child other than providing the support.

In Kimberly's child's situation, both parents worked about fourteen to fifteen hours every day during the week on their farm to support their family. They would come back to stay with their children on the weekends but could not properly care for their children aside from support. This is why the child's adult sisters cared for her. 

My advice would be to not think too much into her living situation. Do not assume that she does not live with her parents due to abandonment. That does happen but there are other options of what could be going on here. Maybe ask her about her brother and her aunt and not necessarily her parents unless she mentions them. She may mention her parents if it is a situation in which the parents come to visit on the weekends or on breaks, and you can ask her about her parents then. 
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Rowena C

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
Sponsored Child's Family Information.


Some time ago, I wrote in to Compassion asking some questions regarding the family background of my sponsored child, Endaeli (TZ3060309) whom I have sponsored for awhile. Specifically, I asked why she was in the care of her grandparents although it is listed on her profile that both her parents are alive. However, I felt the response I received was a little insensitive - "In regards to your questions about why she is living with her grandparents, since they registered her in the program, it would be best to ask her in your letter". To be honest, I doubt this is appropriate advice as my sponsored child is only 9 years old and I am unsure how she may feel about living apart from her parents. I am also unsure if she knows of the existence of her parents or why she does not live with them instead. Asking a child such a question in a letter may have a negative impact on her feelings (e.g. making her feel unwanted or abandoned by her own parents). 

The reason why I would like to know as much about her situation is so I am in a better position to encourage her as someone who loves and cares for her. Aside from this, she has never told me much about any family issues or financial issues so I wonder if she and her family are getting on fine.
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Susan

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Rowena,

I sincerely apologize that you received such an insensitive email. :( You are right that it might not be appropriate to ask such information in a letter. I so appreciate your care, concern, and sensitivity to Endaeli's situation. We are truly blessed to have such great advocates, like you, as sponsors!

I am merging your concern onto this previous conversation because you have some similar concerns about your child's living situation. Endaeli's parents are alive but she lives with her grandparents. As you requested, I am sending an inquiry to our field office in Tanzania to further verify what Endaeli's living situation is. As soon as we hear back, I will contact you. 
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Rowena C

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Dear Susan,

Thank you for your message and for volunteering to look into my sponsored child's family background. I truly appreciate your time and effort. Please let me know when you hear back from the office in Tanzania. I can also be reached via e-mail should more privacy be necessary.
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Rowena C

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Hi Susan,

I've just received a letter from my child in which it is written that she is on a one-month holiday and she helps her mother for home activities. Now I am made more confused as I am certain she lives with her grandparents and not her parents. I am unsure if this is a translation error and thought you might want to know as well since you are currently looking into her family situation. Please let me know once you have heard back from the office in Tanzania. 

Another matter that is of concern to me is that I previously sent a few small monetary gifts over the years I have sponsored her and I was told that her grandparents opened a bank account so that the money could be saved up. However I also read recently from other threads in this forum that the money is supposed to be spent after discussion with the family. I'm not against saving, but just wondering if this is in line with Compassion's monetary gift policy. Thanks!
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Susan

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Rowena,

As I explained above to Kimberly, in most cases, when a child is living with someone else other than their parents and their parents are still alive, it is because the parents either are living in another area for work opportunities or they work very long hours just to make ends meet and are not able to really care for their child. The parents then would have a family member, family friend, or a youth hostel care for their child in their place. In these situations, they may go visit their parents on school breaks or their parents may come visit them for a time. This would be inline with the letter that you received. 

We are still waiting for a response in regards to the inquiry I had sent last week about your child's living situation. A response is expected within forty-five days. As soon as we hear back, I will notify you.

The use of monetary gifts is up to your child and their family. According to our guidelines, they do not have to purchase something per say. However, we oversee the use of the gifts to make sure that the family is not using the gifts in a way that would be detrimental to your child's development (i.e. for drugs, alcohol, etc.).  
(Edited)
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Rowena C

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Dear Susan,

Thank you for explaining this possible scenario to me - I did read your previous reply to Kimberly. However, I was concerned as she has never mentioned about her parents or interacting with them since I took up the sponsorship so it just struck me as a little odd. Additionally, her parents are not married and I am not sure what the family relations are like. In my earlier letters, I avoided asking about her parents as I was afraid it would be insensitive given how little I actually know about her living situation. Getting a better idea of this would really help in approaching certain topics and in praying for her and her family. 

Thank you for being so patient and replying to my queries promptly! I really appreciate the work you and Emily do around here! :)
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Susan

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Rowena, you are right that this may be a very unique situation and it's important to be sensitive to her living situation. I hope to be able to clarify things much better once we hear back form our field office in Tanzania. :)
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Rowena C

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Hi Susan, just wanted to follow up regarding my enquiry as it's been around 2 months since this post. It would be nice to know if you've heard back from the field office in Tanzania! :)
In addition, I'm worried about a letter from one of my correspondent children (Owere) which I was told was mailed out a few weeks ago. I have yet to receive it although I have already received other correspondent introductory packages dated 26-28 October. I'd like to know when the letter from Owere was posted, if this information is available. Thank you so much!
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Susan

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Rowena,

Regrettably, we have not received a response yet but I have sent a reminder to our field office in Tanzania. I will be sure to let you know as soon as we do receive a response.

Owere's letter was received and logged into our system on 26 September. It was mailed a few days afterwards. However, it may take some time to reach you in Singapore. I sincerely hope that  you receive this letter very soon. 
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Rowena C

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Susan, 
Thank you for checking with the office again. I truly appreciate your gesture. Regarding Owere's letter, I'm worried that it may have been lost in the mail as I've already received correspondent packages dating from 26-28 October. My local post office has also informed me today that it takes around 2 weeks at most for mail to reach from the U.S. I will continue checking my mailbox diligently. Am crossing my fingers and hoping it isn't lost.
Just out of curiosity, what happens if a letter is lost in the post? 
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Emily

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Hi Rowena! I am praying that your letter is found and it reaches you within the next couple of weeks. However, if your post office doesn't find this letter and you don't receive it by November 30th, please let us know and we will ask our staff in Owere's project if they have a copy of the letter that they can send to us.
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Rowena C

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Hi Emily, thanks for the reply. I still have not received Owere's letter as of today and have made a call to the local post office to check. I will update you at the end of the month if I still do not receive it or do not receive any promising news from the post office. Just out of concern, I would like to check if I have any incoming mail to expect that has reached Compassion's office (or that has been mailed out to me)? It would be nice to have some sort of updating system that allows us sponsors to view if we have any letters that have been received or are in processing. I believe this would be very helpful for sponsors who are international/are living abroad in places other than the U.S. so that letters/updates can be better tracked. It would be helpful for us to know what to expect instead of repeatedly asking every now and then! :-)
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Emily

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Hi Rowena! Thank you for checking with them and I hope they respond with good news for you! A letter from Endaeli was received in our office on November 10th and mailed a few days afterwards. We have not received any from your children since then. 

Thank you so much for your ideas as well. This is something that we also agree would be very beneficial for our sponsor's. Although we don't currently have a system for our sponsor's to check on incoming letters from their children, this is something we are hoping to have in the future! 
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Susan

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Rowena, I am emailing you regarding the inquiry for Endaeli. Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.