Sherry Grandmaison says she learned early that being a foster child set her apart.
“I remember one day everything was fine, I was going to school… and then the next day I had no friends and the teachers treated me differently. The kids were told by their parents not to talk to me.”
The Sarnia woman said she entered foster care when she was six, along with her sister. Overall, the time spent growing up in numerous foster families had a positive impact and helped make her the strong woman she is today, she said.
“If it wasn’t for me living in those environments… learning how they live their lives, I wouldn’t have known anything else,” she said.
“This is what it did for me, and surely it does it for others.”
Grandmaison, 57, said those experiences were the inspiration for a story she recently self-published, Fostering Feebie.
The 16-page book, illustrated by Sarnia graphic artist Duncan Irvine, follows six-year-old Feebie on her first day in a new foster home and her attempts to make sense of it all.
The goal, Grandmaison said, is to help foster kids age three to eight find the positives in their new environment.
Canada has more than 30,000 children in the foster system, including about 80 in Sarnia-Lambton, she said.
And while it isn’t perfect, she’s been to countries that don’t provide foster homes for kids who can’t safely live with own parents or caregivers. The alternative, she said, is life on the street.
“I had some bad experiences, but I choose to take the good experiences with me. Even from the bad experiences I chose to see the good in what I could learn from that.”
Grandmaison, who moved to Sarnia at the age of 13, said she went on to raise a “wonderful, caring young man” who recently graduated from college and is living a productive life.
She has donated 30 copies of Fostering Feebie to the Sarnia-Lambton Children's Aid Society and was scheduled to do a book signing last week.
The book is available at The Book Keeper, Coles and online. A full-colour version is $9.95; a colouring book $6.95.