A family and a future: Ada’s story

Ada in her very own bedroom in her new foster home

Ada Habibovic is such a friendly, confident little girl, it’s hard to believe the enormous challenges she’s had to face in her short life.

Ada’s father abandoned her mother  before she was born. Her mother tried  to care for her by herself but struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and so the  authorities decided that Ada would be better off in an institution. When she was six, Ada  was sent to live in Bjelave, the largest orphanage in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo.

Life in the orphanage was very hard for Ada. Despite her problems, Ada loved her mother very much and missed her terribly. In Bjelave, she was just one child out of one hundred –  all desperate for love and affection. She shared a bedroom with five other children and had nowhere, nothing and no one to call her own.  At school, when Ada’s teacher asked her to draw a picture of her family, Ada drew a picture of the staff at the orphanage.

Hope and Homes for Children is now in the process of closing the Bjelave orphanage by making sure that Ada and all the other children who live there have families of their own to love and cherish them. In many cases this means reuniting children with their birth parents by giving families the support they need to care for their children themselves. In Ada’s case this was not possible and so our team looked for the right foster family to care for Ada.

In April 2016 they succeeded and Ada left Bjelave to live with her new family – a couple with two children who live on the outskirts of Sarajevo.

Moving from an orphanage to live as part of a family is a very challenging experience for  a child and it takes time and care to ensure  the move is a success. So far though, our team say that Ada is coping well.

In addition to her new foster mum and dad, Ada now has a 13-year old foster sister and a foster brother called Faruk. Ada and Faruk are both nine years old and are in the same class at school. They are great friends but also great rivals when it comes to their school work.

Ada’s foster mother says that, at first, Ada was afraid to sleep alone and needed a light on at night. (When she lived in the orphanage, the older children watched horror films in front of the younger children and she still had nightmares). Ada could also be aggressive when she was upset. But her foster parents are determined to do all they can to reassure her and, although she continues to need a great deal of attention, she is beginning to settle in.

Ada’s new home has a garden with an orchard. She says she likes collecting fruit with the rest of the family and she knows all the names of the different trees. She also has a cat and a dog to play with. In the summer the whole family went to the seaside and Ada learned how to swim.

Ada says that she really likes her new family and she would like to stay with them forever although we are also helping her to maintain contact with her extended birth family. Working with the local social work department, Hope and Homes for Children will monitor Ada’s progress and make sure that she continues to grow up safe, knowing that she’s loved.