The donors: Brian and Kathleen Reeves
The gift: Caring for 22 children with special needs
Brian and Kathleen Reeves were looking for a new challenge when they decided to become foster parents with an unusual focus.
The couple got involved with medical fostering which means caring for children with physical and mental-health needs. Few people are up to the challenge but the Reeves have unique backgrounds. He had a career in social work and she was a nurse. “What really spoke to me was that these kids were living in the hospital without family,” Ms. Reeves, 60, recalled from the family’s home in Tofield, Alta., which is about 70 kilometres east of Edmonton.
Over the last 20 years, the couple have cared for 22 children (including three who died as infants). That’s in addition to their own four children. Most of the foster children were later adopted by other families, but the Reeves have adopted eight. They range in age from 5 to 19 and they all have special needs, including heart conditions, bone disease, renal issues, deafness and Down syndrome. All of them will require care well into adulthood and some need further operations.
The family recently came to the attention of the Children’s Wish Foundation which has granted “wishes” to six of the children. So far, they’ve been to Disney World and Vancouver to see the band Kiss, rare excursions that Mr. Reeves said were extraordinary and complicated to organize. “We just have a completely different lifestyle than what everybody else has,” he said.
The Reeves don’t plan to adopt any more children and they have no regrets about getting involved with medical foster care. “For us it’s important to give all of our kids every chance and make sure they are happy,” said Ms. Reeves.