I’ve experienced rage induced tears and frustration this last week with foster parenting. In talking it over with the co-foster-parent of my 2 (she fosters their 2 siblings), she shared with me her journal entry. With her permission, I’m putting it here.
These foster parenting posts aren’t about me and my book, or my emotional outlet (though I do get that); they’re about anyone else out there fostering, feeling alone, frustrated, and angry. Because in the end, rage inducing as foster parenting is, it’s about the kids. I may not renew my licence in 3 years like Jodeen talks about, but if I do, it’ll be for the tots like my FiestyPants and BoyBlue and the wonder of seeing their family heal. It certainly won’t be to help the state better their numbers.
They do need our help. The kids.
The state, however, needs to be bitch-slapped.
Here’s her story:
Two Words. A Foster Parent’s Perspective.
I have been a foster parent for a year. In that year I have laughed, cried, screamed, broken down and rejoiced. I’m a foster parent. I love kids. I do this to help children and I have learned a few lessons along the way.
I have learned that foster parents are held to a higher standard. We are often the brunt of a frustrated bio-parents hatred of the system. We are the face of the system that has taken a child away from a parent who needs help. Through all of this, we are not allowed to make mistakes. We are under the microscope for the decisions that we make for not only our foster children but also our own children.
I have learned that not all foster parents have the same objectives. There is a small percentage of the foster parent population that just do this to help kids. Other foster homes come with an agenda. Some foster parents want to eventually adopt and are looking for that “forever placement”. Some foster parents have had a relative’s child hoisted on them for an indefinite amount of time. Some foster parents do this for the money and the children in their homes do not thrive.
I have learned that foster parents have an important voice in the lives of these children. We have input to the court, the CASA and the social worker on how the children in our homes are progressing and what we see before and after visits. We try to correct the behavior of children who have not had parents who know how to parent and we try to help the parents become better parents. We need to be invested in the children in our home so we can provide this important feedback.
I have learned that there are not a lot of people who will put up with the mud that is slung, the endless trips to multiple services each week, and the visits that never happen or are called short while the foster parent is in the middle of a grocery trip.
I have learned that there is not a lot of foster parents who treat the foster children in their home like their own.
I have learned that the system needs more people who are willing to reach out and help.
I have learned that being a foster parent is more often than not thankless and that is the tragedy.
When my licensor walked in my home for our initial home study, his words to me and my husband were “well, I guess you aren’t doing this for the money”. My social worker and CASA told our current bio-mom that they wished they could be foster kids so that they could be placed in a home like ours. Just last week, my foster son’s counselor asked me if I volunteered at his school before he was placed with us. I told her no, that I did it because it’s what I did when my 16 year old bio son was in elementary school. I told her that he was a part of our family so I do the same things that I did for my own child. She shared with me that she had never seen a foster parent volunteer in a child’s classroom. This is a tragedy. We do not do this for the money. There are countless places that we could volunteer our time. We are blessed by what we have and what we can give. We do this to help children.
In a year, I have worked with two social workers. In my first placement, I had a very difficult placement, one toddler in a half-body cast and the other a holy terror who arrived on my doorstep in nothing but the clothes on their backs. My social worker was a very good communicator, she fought for and was invested in the lives of these two little boys. I heard every week how thankful she was that we were helping these two little boys and how much we mattered in their lives. These words got me through an otherwise difficult 6 months and I rejoice that these little boys are back home and their case has been dismissed. In my current placement, my social worker does not return my calls or e-mails unless I copy her supervisor, she is not invested in the lives of the children, she drags her feet on paperwork, and she has exposed where my 5 year old goes to school to his father who has a no contact order, endangering my family. More important than all of this, she never says thank you. I have over and over thought about giving up my license because of this social worker’s thanklessness. The mistakes and paperwork delays I can forgive, but I hate feeling that I am not appreciated.
Foster parents are told that our check each month will likely not cover a child’s expenses. We are told that the children that are placed with us may cause physical damage to our homes. We are told that there are a million reasons that we will be investigated over the years for empty allegations. We are told that our families will be affected both positively and negatively by the children who are placed in our home. We are told that there a large percentage of foster families do not renew their licenses after the first three years.
What we are not told is that we will not hear the words “thank you” as often as we should.
Thank you. Two words that mean more to a foster parent than anything else.
So, yeah, be a foster parent. You can read about the rest of her life here.