Over the past 30 years, Cindy Stirling has fostered runaways, orphans, teen sex workers, abuse victims and cancer patients. She was indeed an image of a supermom!
She spent most of her years doing community service especially to homeless children. Later on she met a guy, Ross, with the same passion as hers and then got married in 1986. For them, the decision to foster was obvious. Through their work, they’d seen how many kids needed loving parents, and what happened when kids didn’t have them: they might get into drugs, drop out of school, end up on the streets, end up in prison, or end up someplace worse.
In the Stirling household, a few things are non-negotiable. Kids have to attend school, and Stirling always checks if they have homework. All children are expected to be home for dinner—amazingly, they eat at 3:30 p.m., because that’s the only time everyone’s schedules allow. Each kid has a rotating list of chores: sweeping, vacuuming, mowing the lawn, laundry, garbage, setting the table, doing dishes. If one kid breaks a rule or acts out, Stirling sits them down away from the rest and talks it out. One foster daughter who stayed with the Stirlings for several years told me she couldn’t recall a time Stirling lost her cool. “It really takes a lot to piss that woman off.”
The couple worked several jobs to support the kids. Caring for children has become part of their identity, more than any nine-to-five would ever be. They were good at it, and it made them feel good, too. Then they decided to separate.
Find out more how the story unfolds over at Toronto Life.
(Image Credit: Vanessa Heins/Toronto Life)