Hubert Burda Media

The Season for Giving: Charlotte Cain (1of4)

This holiday season, four individuals share why there’s so much joy in giving to others. Cain kicks off this four-part series.


Gives Children a Better Start

Six years ago, Charlotte Cain and her husband Bill made an important family decision: To foster newborn babies in their home. “It was always something that my husband and I wanted to do, but it has to come at a right time in your life. You have to be able to dedicate everything to it,” says Cain, who is blessed with two grown daughters of her own.

The founder of the highly successful Boutique Fairs (which offers a curated showcase of Singapore-based designers) recalls that it was from an article she read in The Straits Times years ago that she first learned about Sanctuary House, the organisation she initially worked with to foster children in her home. In the years since, she has taken in four infants until suitable adoptive families were found for them — a process that typically takes between four to six months. Following the recent closure of Sanctuary House (whose foster care service was transferred to Boys’ Town, which had started a similar programme called Sanctuary Care), Cain has entered into a private long-term care-giving arrangement with a young family and their two children, aged one and five.

Of all the avenues for giving back to society, why fostering?

My husband and I have always loved children. We feel children are the innocent ones. They are born into this world for many reasons and sometimes, they just have tough beginnings. We are very privileged to be able to help change that around. It’s a very rewarding way to give back.

Isn’t it emotionally challenging when you eventually give them up for adoption?

Yes it is, but it’s not about me — it’s about the kids. It is very difficult and you miss them terribly because they are part of your life. The first 24 hours after, there’s a lot of tears but it has to be that way. You can’t do work like that and not feel. But ultimately, it’s about doing all that you can so that there’s one more child out there who has been given a stronger start in life.

Would you encourage others to foster as well?

I think you have to be so 100 percent sure about it. You have to be prepared; be at the right stage in your life; and be sure you can let go. It’s about finding the balance between giving everything in your heart — unconditional love — and letting go. For us, it changed our lives in the most amazing way.