A West Sussex, England couple have finally thrown in the parenting towel — after taking in 620 foster children in 56 years.
Pauline, 81, and Roger Fitter, 86, fostered kids of all ages, including newborns, teenagers and everyone in between, from as far away as Belarus and Lithuania, along with raising five kids of their own in a four-bedroom home, until this year when they “retired.”
The Fitters’ house is now quiet for the first time in decades. A pond stands at the end of their garden in place of a trampoline, swings and slide.
Pauline told the Mirror she kept photos and birthday records of all their foster kids, remembering every name, and considered every foster child as important as her own.
“Each child leaves their own mark,” Pauline said. “They lived as part of the family. If we’ve done our job well then they go on to a new life and don’t need us. Quite a few send us Christmas cards. We liked and loved all our children but you know you have to let them go.”
A second shower and toilet cut long bathroom queues while the same dishes were served to all at mealtimes. Disciplining was usually done with a simple timeout.
Pauline, who used to work as a nurse, always wanted to help children.
The couple married in 1965 and fostered their first child, a baby boy, later that year.
But they would go on to have another 619 new arrivals.
The most children they have ever looked after at one time was 11, which included their own. They put up tents to squeeze them all in.
“One lad who was about 13 when he left us somehow remembered two years later it was going to be our silver wedding anniversary and he came over with his parents to see us,” Pauline said.
“We couldn’t believe he’d remembered and it blew us away.”