One year ago, Regina and Simon accepted the sudden responsibility of caring for five siblings from their cultural community and unexpectedly grew from a family of five to a family of ten. With a sense of humour, Regina explains how it all unfolded: “I didn’t know that one day I would be a mother to eight children. When my husband and I met, we talked about having children; I wanted two and he bumped it to three! Then when we received a phone call asking us to take in five children, I said we have no room, but come and talk to my husband and explain how we’d take care of five children in addition to our own, all close in age. Sure enough, he showed up, expressing how he admired our family for our community involvement and how we handled our children. That is how we got pregnant with quintuplets and became octo-parents!” jokes Regina.
Reflecting back on that conversation, Regina recalled, “At that moment, I realized it wasn’t about physical room, but room in your heart.” Clearly, Regina has a gift with her encouraging energy and advocacy for the children in her and Simon’s care. She can share laughter in the crazy moments that large families experience and has been all-in with the unknowns of kinship care and court dates, while maintaining graceful positivity in their communication with biological family. She has navigated the challenges that a few of the children have and continues to be a steady guiding light in their uncertain future.
Regina notes that they have had their share of ups and downs like any other family, but they have had many positives too. “Our successful story of welcoming these children revolve around both me and my husband’s inner selves to embrace the love they never had.” After two months, all previous bedwetting from three of the boys have stopped. Teachers have noticed how there has been a positive shift in the oldest’s attitudes and behaviours, which in turn has been reflected in his marks. Taking them to places they have never been, like the CFPA tubing event, where they can experience new activities is not taken for granted by their kids and gives Simon and Regina a sense of awe and appreciation as well. The youngest one has asked, “Auntie Regina, can I call you Mommy please? Because you’re doing everything for me, from cooking to cleaning and washing my clothes.”
The motto of the Kolombo household is to treat everyone like how you want to be treated. As their nominator so beautifully shared, “Both Regina and Simon have embraced and been committed to these children; their five kinship and three biological, blending a family where each one feels included, has a voice and can have a safe place to land amid the confusion that apprehension so often brings.” Their heart is evident as Regina summarizes their journey so far, “I cannot fathom how the simple act of kindness of just saying ‘yes’ to taking this group of siblings has contributed to our lives in tremendous ways. The transformation of the children and how each child has touched our life in the best way possible is our greatest success.”