Indranee Elizabeth Nadisen
Singapore’s longest-serving foster mother
Indranee Elizabeth Nadisen began to find life boring when, in 1976, all of her six children were in school. So she signed on as a foster mother with the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s Fostering Scheme.
Indranee was a foster mother for 35 years, caring for a total of 45 abandoned, abused or neglected children, treating every one of them as her own and shedding tears each time they left for their adoptive homes or to be reunited with their families. She retired from the scheme in 2008 as persistent shoulder and knee problems meant she could no longer carry children, but in 2011 she rejoined.
In 2009, Indranee received the ministry’s inaugural Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award in recognition of her record-setting contributions - longest serving foster mother who looked after the largest number of vulnerable children.
Indranee, born of Chinese parents and adopted by an Indian family as a baby, fostered the children for an average of two years each. In each case she would get so attached to the child that when the time came to part, it was very painful.
Sometimes she would say to the child she had to go to the toilet so that the child would let go of her and leave with his or her adoptive parents. She said in a media interview in 2008, “From the toilet, I could hear the child screaming for me and my heart hurt.”
Once they left, she preferred not to stay in touch. “If they are back with their parents or if they have a proper home, then I am happy for them,” she added.
While they were with her, she treated them no differently from her children. Indeed, at times she favoured them over her biological children, such as when there were some sweets in the house, she would let the foster children have first choice. She explained to her own children that the foster children had no parents and so needed extra love.
Indranee said it was the love she got from her adoptive parents that spurred her on to be a foster parent, plus “the house becomes a lot livelier and happier with children in it. That is what I really miss about fostering.”
In 2001, Indranee was awarded the Friend of MCDS (Ministry of Community Development and Sports, now known as the Ministry for Social and Family Development) Award and in 2003, the Reader's Digest Inspiring Asians Award.
“The house becomes a lot livelier and happier with children in it. That is what I really miss about fostering.”