I wrote this many months ago but never published it. It’s a bit of a rant and I apologize for that. To be honest I don’t really know why I’m publishing it. Maybe it’s cathartic (the emotional definition, not the medical definition). These are some things that I’ve wanted to say for a long while. This is my opinion. It is what I believe. But I am open to the possibility of error. This is my take on well over a half decade of trying to have children which ultimately culminated in my adoption of three children whom I love. It was and still is the most difficult thing I have ever been through. I hope that by sharing these thoughts you might walk away changed, if only a little.
Additionally, if I have written something here that offends you, bear in mind that you probably have not gone through what I went through. This post is not shiny and polished. It’s fairly raw. Sometimes polish is needed and sometimes rawness is needed. Would the Gulag Archipelago been as powerful if Solzhenitsyn had run it through the marketing department? This post has currents upon under-currents which you probably will not understand. So bear that in mind before sounding off in the comments section.
Normally I write about tech stuff. This time you will find no code. (I also apologize for the lack of rigid structure in the writing. This was somewhat of a brain dump).
My wife and I are watching the TV show Once Upon A Time on Netflix. I wouldn’t call it great, but it serves as entertainment when my mind has crapped out at the end of a hard day of typing. The premise is that some evil queen in Storybookland curses the whole place and all of the characters end up in Maine not remembering who they are. Snow White and Prince Charming, whose real name is James, apparently, hide their new baby in an enchanted tree where it is protected from the effects of the curse. The down side is that the baby is transported to the same area and appears on the side of a road where someone picks her up and she is placed into foster care where she is bumped around from home to home until she ages out of the system and becomes a bounty hunter. The show has spent some time throwing poo at the foster care system.
Before I was a foster parent this stuff didn’t really bother me. Then I became a foster parent. Now it does, a little. What I would like to talk about in this post is what the foster system is like from the perspective of the foster parent. Because, quite frankly, we get shit on a lot.
We have all heard horror stories about children in the foster care system. They get bumped around from house to house. They get split up from their siblings. Evil foster parents use the children to get state money to support their gambling habits or worse. I have also read stories about foster parents who have locked kids in refrigerators, closets, bathrooms or other places for extended periods of time after which some child is injured or worse. I would not in any way justify the actions that lead to harm for the children, but I will tell you quite truthfully, almost every foster parent, save for the most saintly, has had to push aside rash thoughts for the sake of trying to get a moment’s sanity. A very slim number of people actually do the rash things that we hear about, but every foster parent has had the moment when the temptation for rashness would have liked to take over. Yes, I know that regular parenting has that too but for those who are doing foster care the levels of stress, regulation and frustration are much higher than with regular parenting.
Would you like to know why?
If so, continue reading with an open mind.
Many foster parents already have parenting experience, though many, such as my wife and I did not. I was quite adept at getting children riled up before sending them home with their parents with the special needs ministry my (old) church has, but had no real parenting experience. The kids loved me, the parents… well they put up with me because I gave them time away from their children to have a date night. That was the extent of my parenting experience.
When you first sign up to be a foster parent you go through a bureaucratic anal probe the likes of which is only legal for the state to do. They want to get to know the most intimate details of your life. And rightly so. You may have children who come into your home who have been physically or sexually abused. So when they ask you if you are a sexually satisfied individual (and they will) or if you are in the middle of an adulterous relationship it actually is the business of the state to know. Your spouse is not allowed to see your responses and I have heard of instances where a couple is denied a foster license because one of the marriage partners is having an affair and refuses to stop. The application is denied with the other party not knowing why.
You go through other things like background checks and such, home inspections, fire inspections and a couple of other things. But no significant problems notwithstanding you get approved and you are on your way to making a difference in these children’s lives.
And then you wait.
During the waiting period you need to keep up with your state training, .i.e. your State Mandated Indoctrination.
Does this training help you to be a (foster) parent?
Heh, you could be so lucky. The training is on state standards that you are expected to follow.
For those of you who are parents you may have taken some parenting courses that help you to understand how your child we be developing, dietary needs, when they should be approaching which milestones in their life, etc. As foster parents we go to courses that teach us how to properly restrain a child. I’ve had to do it (twice, I think). Then you have a multi-page form to fill out where you explain what it was about, what alternate strategies you tried, why you thought that the child needed to be restrained.
The medication training is perhaps the biggest time waste out of all of them. 8 hours of training once per year, probably on a Saturday. Some people like to take their kids to the park on the weekend. Maybe the swimming pool. Foster parents often spend a decent number of evenings and weekends attending useless training.
During the training I got to learn about the anti-psychotics and psychotropic medications that I probably will never be giving to children in my home. And I don’t remember any of it. Actually, that’s not true. I have taken the course 3 or 4 times and here is what you will learn; 1) read the pharmacy information sheet, 2) lock up your meds. That’s it. 30 hours of training and that is what I learned, remembered and have implemented.
Then there is the cultural sensitivity training. This is presumably because a lot of foster parents are white (I have met several black foster parents, but where I live they are mostly white) whereas the population of the foster care system is largely Black or Mexican. Yes, I didn’t say “Hispanic”. Very few Spaniards are in the Texas foster care system.
Now, I am white. I live in the suburbs (yuck! really). I own a gas guzzling SUV that s bigger than I need (and smile every time I push the accelerator harder than I have to). I have two big screen TV’s which I brought back to my larger-than-necessary house in my gas-guzzling SUV. But I started out relatively poor compared to where I am now. My parents provided a comfortable childhood and I had no want of anything. But when I left home I lived month-to-month and had to hope that I had enough in the bank to pay rent. I didn’t go to college but worked hard and eventually got married, moved to the U.S. from my home in Canada, started a business, failed at it, but kept working hard eventually landing some good contract work which led to a good job, which led to recording two albums and writing two books, which led to another job, which led to starting a business, failing at it again and landing another job for a great company. I had great parents who set me up to be able to work hard and go from my rather modest first shot at living on my own to being relatively successful.
Until my world came crashing down and I found this out about my life
I had been wrong all of those years! It wasn’t my hard work and long hours after all!
And not only had I received a benefit from racism, I found out that I was racist too!
Now, if you believe that all of this is true that’s fine, I won’t argue with you (you’d be wrong, anyway). My purpose in writing this is to help you see what things are like as a foster parent. In our state-based training I was being accused not only of having benefited from racism but as being racist simply because I am white.
Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork
Raise your hand if you like paperwork! Each child requires at least one sheet of paperwork each week that shows daily progress. These are called progress reports. You are supposed to note pretty much any thing that happens to the child during that day. This is because that paperwork is used to determine their level of care. Their level of care determines what their subsidy is and what services are available to them. If you get this wrong they may end up being mis-categorized and end up losing out on qualifying for services that they need.
And then you need to have medication logs. Boys in the foster care system tend to be on medication, especially once they get past 5 years old. And for each of the medications that they are on you have a medication log. One per medicine per child. And if you screw up that is called a “medication error”. And that’s bad.
Oh, and those one page progress reports I mentioned earlier? That is only if your child is listed as basic. Moderate and above you have three sheets of paper per child, per week. In our case it was about 10 pages of documentation each week.
When normal parents have finished their day with a somewhat strong-willed child they might rest. Read a book. Watch some TV, maybe. Well, with foster parents we are often dealing with children who are stealing, lying, fighting, self-injuring and a host of other things before breakfast. And at the end of the day we do paperwork.
In reality, paperwork is the last thing on our minds. Because of the stresses that the children put you under along with the stress of knowing that what you do is under the eye of the state, at the end of the day you fall onto your bed, turn on the TV and hope that the next day is better.
You just drug the children up to make them more manageable
Yes! In every way, yes! Not as a default measure when they come into your house, but yes!
This is because many (most?) children coming into the foster care system are, in many ways, un-manageable. Consider that these children come from environments where they rule the roost. Many children brought into foster care were allowed to do anything they wanted as long as it didn’t interfere with what their parents were doing be it Meth, Cocaine, partner abuse or simple neglect. From a child’s point of view, these kids have it made. They can eat what they want, drink what they want, sleep when they want, do what they want. As long as they don’t interfere with the caregiver, they can do anything they want.
My wife and I watched a documentary on Meth abuse several months ago. The filmmaker got a surprise when a family of addicts allowed them into their house. They were nice to them and honest about what Meth did to them. They were actually quite contrite about what Meth had done to their family. Their kids weren’t well behaved but largely did what they were told.
But it turns out that the parents were high during the interview. A Meth high lasts about 6 hours and when you crash, you crash hard (apparently). The parents slept off the high until 11:00 in the morning.
But their children weren’t high. At 7:00 in the morning, the director cut to the two year old who had just woken up and whose diaper was sagging to his knees. He walked over to the trash and pulled off some stuff on top and pulled a half eaten bag of popcorn out of the trash. He also went to the fridge and got out a gallon of milk and did his best to feed himself. A two year old.
Let’s presume that their parents have now been caught, the children have been removed and placed into a foster home. Foster homes will probably have some kind of schedule because one or both parents work. So the children will not be fending for themselves anymore. They won’t have to dress themselves. They will have meals at predictable times. They will get tucked in at night. They will be read stories.
Sounds like they should just take to it.
But they won’t. This world is completely foreign to them. The children have learned that in order to get a parent to do what they want they need to yell, scream, fight and hit. Siblings do one of two things. They either fight like maniacs because there is no parent to stop things before they get out of hand or they are incredibly close because they need to in order to simply survive. Both are actually bad conditions.
The first is bad for obvious reasons. With no parent to stop things they have not learned how to control themselves and God help you if you get in the way of a child who has needed to be narcissistic in order to survive.
The second can actually be just as bad, particularly for the eldest. This child’s identity is as the provider for the family. With the foster parent in place that child’s identity is removed and they, quite literally, do not recognize themselves and can react violently due to that loss of identity.
The way a lot of these issues work themselves out is into various psychological disorders such as Oppositional Defiance Disorder (think of the worst 3 year old ever in a 7 year old’s body), ADD/ADHD or Reactive Attachment Disorder are pretty common. For boys in the foster care system the ADHD is virtually a given. Each of those disorders I listed are have some basis in a lack of self control and are reactive in nature.
Drugs help smooth out the highs and the lows; that reactive nature. It helps them become more manageable both for the foster parent and for themselves. These children have had years in a toxic environment, the effect of which is often one or multiple behavioral disorders, they were just ripped from the people they love and put them in some strange house that actually has defined rules. Before that their rules were do whatever you wanted as long as you don’t get beaten. Now they’re expected to have self-control and they won’t have a fist print on their fact if they accidentally do something wrong. So compared with the situation they came from, more is expected and the consequence of not doing what you’re told is much less severe.
Weeks, Months, Years
So you get one or more children in your home and it’s a matter of having the parents go through the treatment plan, passing an exam and sending the kids on their way, right? Not even close. Remember, many cases that CPS works with involve highly addictive substances. Or in some cases the parents “really” are trying to get a job but just can’t quite get one that sticks. But they have good intentions.
All of these things translate to delays. Lots of delays.
And how much does the foster parent get to know why? Zero. For example, say you were planning a 10th anniversary weekend trip to Napa because you were told that the children would be back in their home weeks before then. But they stay. Then they stay a little longer. You ask what is going on and you are told “oh, the parents are still working the plan.” (You hear that a lot)
Your life is basically on hold while you have foster children in your home. If you want to leave the state you need to get a judge’s permission. We never had that request denied but it’s still a pain in the butt. Say there was a family emergency and you needed to drive to the next state to help out. You won’t be going until you have permission to take the children with you. Respite care is, in theory, available. But that often takes even longer to get than judicial permission.
So you wait and wait with no information about what is going on. This is actually one of the hardest parts about the whole process. Then at some point in the future you are told one of two things. Either a) parental rights are going to be terminated and they are going to start looking for family members, or b) these children who you have been loving and parenting for the past year are going back, probably to a situation that is less than ideal. If it is termination then family members have 90 days to come forward and claim the children. Each family needs to get a home study done, which takes several weeks. And if they pass (they often don’t) then you start preparing the children for their move to the family member.
But if nobody comes forward and the 90 days pass then you, as the foster parent, are first in line. If you choose to adopt then you get the case file where you find out that the parents weren’t actually “working the plan”. They didn’t stay clean, they weren’t attending parenting classes (like that would help), they were still hanging around with the people that they got caught with and there really was no chance that the case would be resolved. But, a year is a year and you wait the year because that is what you are expected to do.
But don’t they love their children?
Ah yes. Don’t these parents love their children and children need to be with their birth parents?
I have kept every Adoption or Legal Risk broadcast I have received and it is in the several hundreds. In preparing for this blog post I read through the removal documentation for some of them. I couldn’t read through them all because of the disgust in reading what those parents did to their children. Here is a sampling, redacted.
- Parent was robbing a store while intoxicated and on drugs. Children left in car
- Sexual abuse by boyfriend.
- This comes up a lot. Boyfriend or family members. Often the reports provide details of who, where and with what. Think about what it’s like to read the “what”.
- Mother tested positive for Cocaine during delivery
- Neglect, parents engaged in drug abuse and domestic violence (this one came up a lot)
- Physical abuse (broken bones, burns, cuts)
- Was pushed on the ground and rolled over by their parent with a stroller
- Mom threatened bodily harm against a newborn
- Parent convicted of human trafficking
And when I say “sexual abuse” let your imagination run wild. Think of the worst things you can think of and much of it is in there, sometimes done to babies.
Read that sentence again.
Now, stop and consider that those kinds of things are probably happening to real children within driving distance of your home. Go to Google Maps, put in your address and look in a circle about an hour or two around your house. It is likely that in that circle there are several young children who are being sexually abused, more that are physically abused and many more who are neglected due to parental drug use.
This leaves behind all manner of disorders. Compulsive masturbation. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Reactive Attachment Disorder. Self-Harming. Sexual Acting Out. Oppositional Defiance Disorder. Developmental Delays. Never mind the burns, the scars and the broken bones.
These are not examples I came up with off the top of my head. I read through several of the broadcasts and wrote them out in that last list. This is real life for many children.
And during all of this you are supposed to be talking up their parents so the children won’t have a negative view of their them. You know that woman who was caught having sex with a child molester to pay for the drugs she needs to buy from the drug dealer who is also the father of her first child who isn’t around and now has 4 other children with three other women and who has regularly beaten her for non-payment? Ignore all that.
Let’s talk about money
Foster parents do it for the money. Yeah. To pay for the anti-depressants and therapy you need from dealing with the children (that’s a clumsy attempt at a joke). A basic child gets you several hundred dollars per month. Moderate children get above $1000. Truth be told, yeah, foster parents actually get paid pretty well. Too much, in my humble opinion. But I can tell you that from all of the people I know who have fostered exactly none of them (as in zero) did it for money. None of them needed it. Outside of our foster group my wife and I had around a half dozen personal friends who were fostering. None of us needed the money. In our foster group, none of us needed the money. We all fostered (and adopted) for various reasons of which money was never even a factor.
It is true, though that many foster parents need the compensation. But taking a second job is a lot easier than taking on more children. You have to get to three children or above if you want it to make a significant impact on your budget.
And it still doesn’t cover the cost of hair transplants to replace the ones you’ve lost.
Losing it all
The people who are lowest on the totem pole are the Straight Adoption people. These are often people who are dealing with infertility, just want to provide a child a good home without going through the pain of fostering. My wife and I were straight adoption for two years. We even submitted for a group of 7 children at one point. Thankfully we were not approved for that one. But we submitted for several others. In two years we came close maybe two or three times. But we never wanted to go the foster route. We did not want to fall in love with some kids only to have the state place them back with their parents. Or have the parents fail and then have the kids placed with a relative.
Because, you see, straight adoption families are lowest on the totem pole. The order goes
- Close Family Members
- Out of State Family Members
- Current Foster Parents
- Straight Adoption Families
So we decided to switch our status to foster-to-adopt. We went for a little while but then got a temporary placement with a boy before he was adopted and did respite for some kids.
And then December 24th, Christmas Eve, 2010 came. We got the call that a baby with a leg cast and a fractured skull needed a home. I told my wife “my first inclination is to say no”. I didn’t really want a baby. But I acquiesced. We agreed and a few hours later a car arrived.
When most people become parents they have about 9 months to prepare. Our average time is around 3 hours.
I opened the door for the investigator and he said “here, hold this” (I actually really liked this investigator). I looked down at “this” and saw the biggest, bluest eyes I have ever seen. I went from wanting to have nothing to do with babies to being wrapped around her little pinky finger in about 3 seconds flat. In that moment I became the Dad of a beautiful little baby girl. She was our Christmas Eve miracle.
She had us both. It didn’t matter that we didn’t have 9 months of anticipation. We were so love-struck by this little thing. We loved her like she was our own. We got up at all hours of the night to feed her. We changed her. We wiped the poop off of her cast (due to physical abuse). We would sit there and rock with her and just enjoy her presence.
But we knew that we were still just foster parents. And what do you as foster parents do when you get a child you fall in love with? You get on Facebook. You try to find who the parents are. You try to find out who the relatives are. You try to figure out which family members are bums and which ones could possibly be a threat to the child. You check online court documents.
I was actually pretty good at it. I figured out who the parents, grandparents, baby-dads, former baby-dads, cousins, uncles and aunts were. And when it comes to people with CPS records, that is not easy to figure out. I figured out all of the possible avenues that our little girl could be taken away from us.
In all my searching I found only one person who could possibly take our little one away. But we were told by CPS that there was a person but that nothing really promising was there.
But then on Feb 18 at 10:37 I received a reply to an email to our caseworker asking what happened to the person . Our caseworker said that she was out but that another person wanted to be considered. I, quite literally, was on a knife edge. I was about two seconds away from picking up my desk and throwing it out the front window of my house (no joke). We had worked through almost all of the potential people and they had all fallen through and then this new one came up. I tell you the truth when I say that I almost destroyed my office in a fit of rage.
Later the caseworker came to our house for our monthly visit. The first thing I asked her was “Is it X?”. Her jaw dropped. The one family member who I was most worried about was the one who had come forward.
It took about a month but it wasn’t long before our little Christmas miracle was gone. And we were devastated. I was in the middle of a work project and I couldn’t leave work, but we held it together for three weeks and made a bee-line for Breckenridge, CO where a very nice couple allowed us the use of their condo to recuperate. But instead of recuperating we got, ahem, slightly inebriated, and had to head home early. Apparently if you’re drinking to forget you shouldn’t do it at 10,000 feet.
When you are a foster parent be prepared to be devastated. Devastation will occur at some point. This is doubly true if you are hoping to adopt.
As difficult as that was we actually ended up becoming good friends with the girl’s new parents. We go and visit them any chance we get. In retrospect, our home was the wrong home for her. And if she had stayed with us we would not have taken in any more children and we would not have gotten to adopt the kids we now have. The bitterness is gone and in place is a new friendship with a very good family. However the road there was quite dark.
Do you want to be a foster parent?
I hope not.
I really hope you do not want to be a foster parent.
If you want to be a foster parent then you should not be a foster parent. What happens when your “want” changes? You need to believe that it is your duty to be a foster parent. From the state’s perspective we were the worst kind of foster parent. Our reports were always late, often in-accurate. We (mostly me) left our training to the last minute and sometimes afterwards.
But from the moral perspective we were the best kind. For every child who came into our home, few though they were, we committed that as far as it depended on us, we would be their last foster home. We invested emotionally in their lives and paid deep, deep prices for that investment. We are emotionally scarred and beaten. We made ourselves vulnerable so our children can heal, grow and prosper. We have fallen short of this ideal many, many times (and still do) but we have kept at it. And we are not unique in this regard. Every family we know who has fostered has had this kind of attitude.
If you are not prepared for that level of commitment and having your heart broken by child, parent and state, multiple times over, then you should not be a foster parent.
Likewise, if you are unwilling to commit to that level and having your heart broken by child, parent and state, multiple times over, then you have not earned the right to criticize a foster parent when you hear that someone did something horrible on the news. Foster parents, even the bad ones, have had their life disrupted in ways that you cannot imagine. They are put under scrutiny and pressure like you will never have to deal with. Acknowledge those incidents for the evil that it is but know that there is a back story that most probably consists of pain and frustration that will never get reported.
What needs to be done?
That is always the question isn’t it? “How do we fix it?” Well, in many ways you can’t. Evil exists in the world. Evidence of it fills a folder in my email that has those broadcasts, named “Adoption”. It will always be there.
But while you can’t fix it here are a few suggestions that could reduce it.
(Actually) do something about poverty
In almost all of the documents I have, poverty is a significant factor. Not in all cases, but in many. But the underlying problem in almost all of them is not the poverty itself. The poverty is a symptom, but it is not the cause. Almost all of the cases I have in my email folder are people who come from broken families. In many cases there are not fathers, there are boyfriends. When there are fathers they are usually not married. See, what we’ve done over the past 50 years is do our best to destroy the one social institution for which the absence is virtually guaranteed in all of these cases. You may say that I’m attempting to prove a negative here, and you might be right. But almost every bit of social science shows that a strong family is one of the best stabilizing factors for children. I know who my Dad is and where he was for my childhood. Given the immense effect he had on my life (despite my stubbornness against it) I cannot even imagine the person I would be today if he was not committed to the death to my mother. And I am committed to death to my children’s (adopted) mother. My kids will never have to wonder if I will come back if I leave, or if they might have a half-sibling out there (due to me). Just like I didn’t have to worry about it with my father. My father worked for his family as I work for mine. Why? Because my family is my personal responsibility.
But seldom (if ever) do the CPS treatment plans include this kind of training. To my knowledge (and I could be wrong) the information about what happens to children when father’s leave them is not presented. Maybe it is. But in the training material that, as the foster parent, completed there was no mention of the the stability that a strong traditional family has. That stability may not solve the problem of poverty; there will always be poverty. But what it does is keep poverty from being a sentence handed down. Poverty, itself, is a problem. But a bigger problem is the recurring chain of poverty. “Programs” will have only a minimal effect on that. And given the focus of those programs, if I were a betting man, I would bet that in aggregate they do more harm than good.
Put poison pills in CPS treatment plans
A poison pill is basically a guaranteed consequence. For example, in Texas parents have a year to get their act together and do their treatment plan with the judge having the option to push it to 18 months if they “just need a little more time”. But CPS says that if parental rights need to be terminated that they(CPS) have failed. In that case, they have a 70% failure rate. 30% of removed children go back to the parents and do not re-enter the system after 12 months. That is the extent that CPS monitors the family.
In the case of drugs they usually need to be clean for a minimum 6 months before re-unification. Perhaps for something like Marijuana nothing needs to be done (I’m not personally convinced that it should be outlawed, but don’t care much either way). However for Cocaine, or especially Meth, if they fail after 6 months there is almost no point in continuing. The Meth relapse rate is officially 92%. If they fail in that 6 month time period they will likely not succeed at all. Why put their children through a minimum of 6 months of additional uncertainty? In our situation the last 6 months were filled with the most promises, the most lies and the most damaging behavior from the children because of that. While I am personally in favor of re-unification in a general sense, I also don’t think that drawn out treatments that are virtually guaranteed to fail should be pursued. It’s not fair to the kids, the parents, the foster parents and the CPS workers who have to deal with this.
The other side of this is that most CPS workers are massively overworked. If there are cases in the system where failure is virtually guaranteed then let’s get those failures out of the way to reduce their caseloads. One of our caseworkers had 70 open cases. The CPS case worker has something like a 20-30% turnover rate year over year with most case workers not lasting 5 years. We really need to make their jobs easier because good case workers are really hard to find.
Put kids in the bestest, quickest home, fast
This notion that kids automatically do better in a family placement is ridiculous. Several of the cases we were involved in were failed family placements. But going beyond that consider how far removed someone needs to be to escape the culture of poverty. The state has what is called Minimum Standards. For kinship placements, those standards are very low. Yes, the children may be familiar with the people already (definitely not a guarantee) but that is exactly the problem. How many of the children in these kinship placements end up being in CPS cases in the future? I understand that we want to minimize the placement disruption but we can’t do so to the long term detriment of the children. How many of these children could be truly given a new lease on life by removing them from the culture that would have doomed them.
And do it quickly. If a caseworker has a file in hand of a willing family who is unrelated and there is an out of state family member who needs to get a homestudy done (who probably has never had significant contact with the children anyway), just give the children to the willing family instead of waiting months to satisfy the mumblings of some psychologist.
Seriously, don’t treat Foster parents like babysitters
As hard as caseworkers have it they have one benefit. In the 70 cases they have, they have the luxury of not developing strong emotional bonds to the children. That’s not to say that they don’t feel for them, but they don’t bond with the children in their cases. Foster parents get emotionally invested in their foster children in a big way. For babies we are up several times a night to feed and change a child who is not our own. We deal with children who have behavioral issues that kids from solid backgrounds do not.
Yes, we get paid to do it. But if a babysitter screws up they might lose a client. Maybe two. Foster parents lose their license and quite possibly the ability to adopt in that state and maybe the country. CPS does not need proof to revoke your license. The children we eventually adopted were brought to our home because there were “suspicious” bruises from the first foster home. There was no direct evidence of abuse and there was never any “outcry” but they were removed anyway.
Be careful what you believe about foster care
Remember that reference to Once Upon A Time where the main character was bumped around in the foster care system for 18 years? Bullshit, I say. She was a white baby girl. She would have been adopted before the week was out. That NCIS shrink who complained about the “cash checkers” who were his foster parents? 1-6 months, depending on his age, level of care and expediency of the court.
Kids get bounced around the system because foster parents get burned out (yes, I am sure that there are negative examples in many cases). In many cases they have their existing children that they need to care for. Sometimes they may fear for the safety of their own kids because of the children they are fostering. Often they don’t have the necessary support. Often they are simply unprepared for the level of care that these children need. It is not some diabolical scheme to hurt these kids. Foster parents get burned out, hard. Siblings get broken apart because taking on multiple children is an immense drain. My wife and I took on three at once, whom we eventually adopted. When you get those kids you are not simply babysitting. You are taking them into your family. These kids, at best, will be developmentally delayed. You will have a 5 year old acting like a 3 year old and a 2 year old acting like a baby. That is, in every way, exhausting.
Then you also need to work your schedule around parent visits, therapists and home inspections. Home inspections happen at least once a month by both your agency and CPS. Parent visits are where you drive the kids to either a CPS office or some other place and drop them off, find something to do for two hours and then pick them up. The kids are all excited because they got presents and played the whole time, probably getting totally sugared up and you get to hear about how wonderful the bio-parents are for the next day or two. And parent visits are inevitably followed by a day or two of acting out, whatever that means for the child. Could be defiance, pooping in strange places or sexual acting out.
Then you have the therapy visits. When we were doing the most we had at least 5 therapy visits per week.
Foster parents don’t sit through that bureaucratic anal probe with a smile on their face because they like it. They do it because they really want to help these kids. Foster care is one of the hardest things you can do.
And you go through it hoping that whatever little contribution you provided will be enough to keep the cycle from repeating.
This post has been read 10’s of thousands of times since I posted it. And there are well over a hundred comments, many from people who have gone through similar ordeals. With that in mind, I would really like to curate some of the stories from other foster parents. I have set up another page for that. If you are, or have been, a foster parent and would like to share your experience please feel free to do so there. Or you could comment here. It’s up to you.
156 Thoughts to “What being a foster parent is really like”
Thank you for sharing.
Respect++ for sure.
I would like to adopt or be a foster car I would like to be a foster care mothr just to give love back I have 3 kids of my own and would love to have 1-2 Moore. I’m a good mother take care of my kids their love and support but that’s the good thing about being a mother I just love kids..
I’m a good mother would love to adopt or be a foster care mother love my kids I have 3 they’re little spoiled but that’s the good thing about being a mother you can spoil them love them and show them more love than you ever had in your life I just want to have my family and enjoy and bring joy to others
I would caution you about this. Fostering and adoption is the hardest road to bring joy to others. Almost every child in the foster care system has some kind of attachment disorder (how could they not?!) and with that the associated behavioral issues. I would not try to persuade or dissuade you, but only to caution you that if your belief is that you will be able to spoil them just a little and bring them joy you will be in for a very rough ride. That’s not saying you shouldn’t do it, only that, based off of what you’ve said here, reality will probably be much different.
So true. Living this right now
I cannot thank you enough for your original post. In the five minutes it took me to voraciously, while nodding my head, mumbling yes, yep, yes, DIGEST your experiences, you’ve validated every single tortured emotional feeling I’ve experienced on this shitty/awesome “journey”. So. Thank you. Thank you.
I feel your pain, I’m involved in a kinsman care. This is not easy, I never met this child before, everything you wrote. I agree with whole heartedly, but, understand. Kinsmanship is not easy either and a lot of the funding Foster parents receive, Kinsmanship does not. I do believe, foster care would be much easier than kinsman care. With caring for a family members child, you become the black sheep, the thief, the wedge between the child and parent. After you have been asked for help, every ugly emotion is thrown at you by family. There is no support for a kinsman by the family. You are left in the dark about everything that has happened, lied to, told that the care is only for a few weeks. Your life is upside down, your own family is upset, you have no right’s. CPS doesn’t inform you of anything, yet, they rush you through the process and later you find out, it’s not ten weeks of care, not six months but a year. After, you are told this is the second round of Cps intervention.
We have been lied to, used, and uninformed through the whole process, and we bear the cost of everything. We have not seen any funds thus far, and we have not seen a casa worker at our door yet. At this time, we drive 80 miles for the two hour visit on rural roads to a town that has one sonic that of course, the other family members wait at for the visit to end. Our visit are on Thursday evening ending at six thirty. This means a forty five drive right after school, doesn’t matter the child is tired, sick, has a school event, homework and hasn’t or, will not eat supper at a normal hour or, that the weather is threatening. Visit are subject to change to any day of the week as well. Never mind, I have a herd to feed and horses to stall in Texas weather with high winds that rip off tin from the barn. Or, that I have stock that needs to be fed before dark thirty. The supper has to be cooked and bath time taken care of and any home work that needs to be done that night, on top of a normal early bedtime. with a early up time the next morning on Friday pop quiz and test day for normal school.
Yes, you are right. The child starts with a downhill decline after seeing the parent. then we are back to no phone calls for a week to two weeks, because, in kinsman care three phone calls a week are allowed and never happen. Or, you get phone calls at all hours of the day and night and any day of the week. Plus, mass texts, that jam up your cell and go into the night at all hours and your normal life and sleep is disrupted. In kinsman care, you are a sitting duck for unwelcomed visits. By the parent at your doorstep and therefore, you are bound by the court to call the law. Makes for a nice family reunion with the child in a tail spin. Not too mention, the up and down visits.
I agree again, children that are removed from a parent for any drug abuse or, neglect reasons should be removed within the first six months to move on with their life. I agree, their are better placements outside of family members as well. Right now, I run a everything, on my own, I ranch and farm, I work from sun up to sun down, I can’t do everything for this child, and keep my stock too. On top of chasing the red tape and making court, Dr, dental and therpy for this child. I am one person. My husband works two months out in the oilfield and is home seven days. There’s no help. I’m exhausted.
I’ve had to deal with a child that has no understanding of morals, manners, angry issues, and his laziness and aggressive behavior , He is seven, some days he is forty with street knowledge of all types of drugs and after a visit he is two, right back to bedwetting and eating with his fingers and full of fear as he praises his parent for playing ball for thirty minutes. Yes, I want to pull my hair out, I get little sleep and have forgotten the simple joy of a long hot bath.
Foster care isn’t easy. But, I think. I believe, Kinsman care is the worse thing Cps come up with, when there is no hope of resolve for parent and child. It divides a family completely. And, by no means, is it the child’s fault.
I’ll never do this again, and I strongly suggest, a family member really think about the path ahead as a kinsman caregiver, in the end, The child will have to be removed for safety reasons avoiding this in the beginning would be better. But, who am I to tell Cps what to do. I just got tail spunned and both the child and I are the ones that have suffered. Not the parent that doesn’t pay for support, which, that should change.
I think, the parents that are the reason to begin, should pay monthly support and provide gas money to the care giver’s. Make them pay and show by their actions that they really want a relationship with the child. Instead of catering to them, and giving them visits and freedom to go out and be single in the world,
Change the laws, and make it harder for these deadbeat parents and easier for the children to move on and start a better life with couples that really want and have the love for child.
Hallelujah someone who understands! I am in the same boat without a paddle. I’m praying for you honey cause I feel your pain. CPS knew things that they didn’t reveal. To put the icing on the cake at the time I got my kin his mother had 6 others that were in the system because of her drug use. Guess what his mom is working on baby #10. 9 are in the system and not sure what’s going to happen to #10. If the parents (1 mom and 9 different dads) suffered consequences do you think they would continue this cycle? Change the law! One more thing at the time I got him they had a relative (one that they were very familiar with) that would have taken all 7 of them all she wanted was a bigger house. CPS wouldn’t help her, they felt she was trying to get over on the system. Well, 7 children in a two or 3 bedroom house doesn’t work either. Change the law!
Wow, after reading your comments, I couldn’t stop thinking about everything you went through. I went to sleep and woke up thinking about it. I believe you are right. Why cater to these deadbeat abusive parents? Make them pay for gas, food, etc. and not give them a free ride while the surrogate parent is heaped with a burden they had nothing to do with.
You, as a kinship placement, can be compensated for the care of your foster child in Texas. You would have to go through the same training that a no related foster parent has to, but if you need the financial compensation, it’s there.
Double Amen to this!! Just curious! What state are you in?
Kinsman Thank you for your comments. I don’t hear much from those in your position; most of the people I know have done straight foster. Because of the adoption updates I received I usually viewed it from the perspective of having failed kinship placements, seldom thinking about what a “successful” kinship placement looks like and so your story is important to me. Thank you for what you do and I pray for your strength.
I wanted an honest Rant. I wanted to know what I didn’t want to know.
I wanted a glimpse beyond the honeymoon high. I appreciate your honesty.
I probably won’t foster or attempt to adopt.
The more I’ve learned about How Hard they make it for the good, safe, loving individuals who are tying to save these children the more disgusted I’ve become. It’s sad.
This article was AWESOME. I’m not going to go into my story, but I am a foster mom with ups and downs. I am doing research for my own College Paper and this was just perfect. I want my agency to use this in their trainings. New foster parents coming in need to read this. You hit so many issues spot on! With humor as well! I myself try to “spark life up a little with humor.” Thank you so much!!
Thank you so much for this. I am starting my training to become a foster parent soon. I’m single and only 21, so I’m very nervous about this journey. Thank you for sharing yours.
I meant to reply to this earlier, but wow, you are going to have your hands full! 🙂 It definitely will not be easy in your circumstances. But the foster care system needs foster parents who are willing to be bruised and crushed for the good of their foster children. It will be the hardest thing you have done and it will be worth it, even though it won’t feel like it most, if not all, of the time.
I am eyeball deep in the research paper that I am doing. The title “Foster Parenting: What could go wrong? (What the agencies don’t tell you)”
I myself have had my own horror story come true in the weeks since Christmas. All thanks to a beautiful little 3 year old boy who has come into our home. His story and his actions have become my nightmare.
Kevin, I would love to know if the broadcasts were anything that I could access myself. I have found some local stories of foster care horror, but I need more to make my research paper the length it has to be. This type of information (showing the child being the one charged with legal issues) is hard to find with proof and not just hear-say. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
The broadcasts are private and I would be violating all kinds of agreements if I opened them up. I would also caution against blaming one part of the system. Foster agencies are part of the problem, but by no means all of it. Same goes for the case workers. A lot of the problem is that the whole system is run like a government bureaucracy… because it is.
This was the most accurate and complete write up on foster care I have ever read. We were foster parents in NY and except for a few differences in how the NY system works, everything else was exactly as you describe. We have one biological son without any hope of ever adding any other biological children to our family and that was one of the reasons we decided to foster, plus my wife was in the CPS/foster care agency system for 20+ years and wanted to be more involved. in the 5 years we have been fostering, we have never even come close to any potentially adoptable children in our home even though the agency has had 11 other homes going though an adoption process. We have finally given up, its not worth putting ourselves and our son on an emotional and physical roller coaster ride. It is sad to watch most of these kids come through the system and realize these are the future parents of kids that will end up in foster care or worse. It is a perpetuating cycle which will probably never end. You also never get complete or accurate information on the children they are asking you to take into your home, and sometimes the only way you get the information is from the kids themselves when they say “Oh yeah, my little brother is autistic” even though there is no mention of this when the worker gives you information on the children. Yea, the kid is 7 years old, I don’t think he just “Caught” the autistic virus! The workers often leave out diagnoses or other important information just to get the Kids placed.
So, if anyone is considering fostering cause they think that is a better road to adoption will have a rude awakening. Think of trying to adopt through foster care like playing the lottery added with daily physical and emotional stress that can come into your home like a tornado. The lottery is your better bet, because you know your chances of winning.
We were foster to adopt parents for almost 5 years for two babies. After being told for years that there were no suitable relatives to take them and they would not go back to bio parents. Guess what, after many, many delays, the parents finally went to court. The seven person jury unanimously terminated rights of both parents. We had the children for 17 more months, thinking any day we could adopt our sons. An appellate court threw out the jury decision and it went to the state supreme court, who denied hearing the case. 9 months later we had to send the children back to the incompetent and mentally ill bio mother.
This has been the most humiliating, degrading, heartbreaking thing that has ever happend to me including the death of my only daughter. It has destroyed our lives in more ways than anyone can imagine. We were dragged through the courts, treated like scum by CASA, DHS and the bio family. They continually falsely accused us of all kinds of mistreatment. We wasted thousands of dollars in legal fees to try to save these angels from their ultimate doom of a broken, dysfunctional, neglectful and abusive home. We live every day knowing the kind of physical, emotional and spiritual poverty that they live in and it kills us. We count the days until they are old enough to come back to us and hopefully we can re-train them how to live a fairly normal middle class life, if they aren’t damaged completely.
If you think it can’t happen to you . . . think again.
Goodness that story saddens me (and that takes a lot). I have heard so many stories like this. This is definitely one of the worst, though. The public offices involved so often seem to have their head in the sand about what is truly best in these kinds of scenarios. It’s devastating enough when a child is placed with a good family relation as what happened with us the first time. I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like when they are sent back to a parent who will probably ruin them.
Jesus…I want to hug you after reading this…I am so sorry…
The agony… It has been over a year since you posted this. I hope there has been light sent your way to overpower the darkness. You deserve it.
I can not express how sad this made me. I am so very sorry about all the heartbreak and disappointment you had gone through. I do acknowledge that what you have done for the child you had, in all the time you had this child, gave that child something to measure. You will forever be the good parent.
friend had baby 2 wks ago & was positive for crack so I got a call from DCS worker askin if I would take the baby & if had to would I be willin to adopt then told me I would prob be eligible for kinship program . I said yes to everything I was willing to take the baby do what I had to to protect the baby & care for the baby they came out did home inspection everything looked good told me the baby would come here when she got discharged frm hospital.. while doin paper work ask if I had any health prob like heart probs ect I said no & stupid me being honest I told him I was on prescription meds & he prob wouldn’t even ask me but I told him anyways I ask will that be a prob he said no it shouldn’t he told me would I be ok w DCS ckmin here for home visit each month & I may have to do parenting classes i said that’s fine . I also have 2 kids if my own 21 & 15 I have no criminal record last car i had was 15 yrs ago guy ran stop sign I hit him not my fault. have clean driving record ect .. anyways the next day the mother txt me sayin they took the baby so I called askin when will the baby be here & did get it discharged yet he told me I wasn’t approved wtf . he really didn’t give me a reason but I believe it’s cause I take prescription pain meds from broken neck yes ago cause a lot of nerve damage but I think that’s bullshit I don’t abuse my meds or do any other drug or drink I was willin to take a drug addicted baby & care for her like my own he says that’s not why but can’t or wnt really give me a reason why but said I could potention the court
I read this today (valentines day, Saturday, first day of the school holiday) while hiding out in my bedroom, tearing my hair out leaving my husband to deal with the 3 siblings we have in, plus our own toddler. I never comment on blogs etc but had to say you’ve hit the nail on the head here! I’m in the UK and still everything sounds exactly like you have it in the US!
I have been looking in to been a foster parent. I am a single mother of a wonderful boy. Some of the issues you brought up, I have wonder about.
I am going in to with all smiles and rainbows, but needed a lot of medicine to what the truth is.
I really want to be able to change one child’s life if I could, by the Grace of God’s help. I am just worried about a horror story of some kind happening against my own child. That sexual abuse the others go threwthrough. I don’t want my son to be taught any kind of games as such. Or worse .. have my own child taken away.
That is definitely a concern. I don’t think it happens that often, but it does happen. We had one emergency foster placement because there was an allegation of inappropriate behavior. Nothing happened, but due to the background it was in the best interest to have the child moved. Sexual abuse is a problem and there are always lingering effects that you need to be vigilant about. Though I probably wouldn’t worry too much about your own children getting taken away as a result of fostering. I’m sure it has happened and my own experience is somewhat limited, but I have not heard of that happening.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. My partner and I going to begin training next month. I have heard so much good from friends who are fosters but I think it’s also important to know the challenges we might face. We want to go into this as prepared as we possibly can. Thank you for sharing your honest, heartbreaking and hopeful experience.
Thank you for sharing your experience with fostering. My husband and I are providing Kinship care to my daughter’s two children – this is the second time we’ve had to do this in a little over 2 years. My daughter is a Meth addict and her current husband has multiple felony drug convictions for using and dealing drugs. With all we have been through, both before and this time, we under no illusion that the kids will will get to be permanently placed with us – they will most likely go back at some point. Unfortunately, parents need only jump through hoops to complete their Reunification Program (without any really accepting personal responsibility for what happened – it’s always someone else’s fault that the kids were taken – and the judge sends them back, and closes out the case 6 months later. The minute the drug testing stops, the use begins again – and it takes almost a year for things to slide back down to the point where someone will actually step in and remove the children. Meanwhile, they’re living in hell. The system is TRAGICALLY broken, a fact that those of us who foster know only too well. I’m glad that you ended up adopting three children. Thanks again for sharing.
Thank you son much for your story. We are attending our first orientation and after reading this… I am still going, bc it IS my duty. 🙂 Heartbreak, tears, hard times and all. Your words made a difference. Thank you!!
I am so glad I read this ! I am a single woman – I own my house with 2 extra bedrooms and was considering becoming a foster parent, but now – no way. I would never harm a child, but I would not be able to handle a child as described here. It is sad, because I could give a child a nice home with many advantages, help with their education, show them the beauty in this world, but not at this cost. I hope the author did not overstate the “problems” because it certainly scared me away from the taking a child into my life.
My first is that my intention in writing this was not to discourage anyone from fostering, but rather to give a somewhat unvarnished view of what it is like. Fostering is “worth it”, but oftentimes you have to find ways to convince yourself of it because “worth it” may not always be synonymous with “enjoyable”.
My second is that being a foster parent is hard and if it’s something that sounds too hard after reading this it’s best to not get directly involved. But while you may not want to foster there is a BIG gap in supporting foster families. As an example, respite care for foster families is a HUGE help.
And, no, I didn’t overstate my problems. But everyone’s experience is unique.
I have a question i would like to foster parent my mentally challange he lives with me any suggestions thank you
I was looking for another foster parents experience because of what we’ve experienced as foster parents. It’s not something you can talk about with just anybody because first of all there’s so much B.S. you’re put through and if you don’t want to take on the permanent liability of a child you’re threatened with removal or you’re accused of just doing it for the money. We adopted a beautiful 10 month old who is now 27 that has multiple problems. We tried getting help from the county who we adopted from when he was 10. The responded by giving us 400.00 a month plus a list of therapists phone numbers and we never heard from them again. We/he needed help we didn’t get. He is still struggling and we’re still here. Crazy as it sounds we continued to foster. 3 kids were reunified with parents with 2 of them being returned shortly to foster because parents were arrested for drugs again. 1 was adopted and ended up abusing his adopted father and going to jail for stealing and using somebody’s checks. 2 siblings were almost adopted but were back in the foster system because of violent behavior and the potential adoptive parents found out they were expecting a baby. We adopted again after all that, the sweetest baby girl. She had no use of her left side when we meet her at 4 days old in a training. We were told she was not adoptable and even found another available baby. We weren’t looking, we just fell in love with her. She’s had multiple surgeries and has some learning problems but she’s 16 now and you couldn’t tell by looking at her what her past was. She will continue to struggle in some areas but she is a fighter. Now we’re almost in our sixties and I didn’t mention that we took in a sibling set of 3 when the one we adopted was 3 years old. A few years later we took their 6 month old sister in and almost6 years ago we took in their 4 month old brother. One on them turned21 and took off too be with her boyfriend several states away. The 16 year old had to be placed in a group home because she was out of control and was having to be brought home by the police on several occasions. Did I mention this is an out of county placement? Well since it was, every time I asked for help they wouldn’t. Their response was “we don’t know the services they have there “. Now we have 3 left with multiple problems from ages 6 – 14 and they’re pushing its to adopt and we’re close to 60. What’s wrong with this picture? We love these kids but the are going to need long term care and the cps worker says you’ll find a way and try guilting us to adopt. Tells us we need to show them we love them no matter how broken they are. They just want to close the case. These kids are going to need help way past us. Sometimes I think this is not what I signed up for. We do this for the kids, problems and all and what the author wrote is all true, but the county, the workers the bureaucracy is what has soured me and made me question what we’ve been doing the past 21 years.
That’s definitely a tough question. Since you’re dealing with children and given your age what happens 20 years into the figure is a legitimate concern. Some may see this as crass, and I would counter that they’re denying reality, but in 20 years you may not be here, and you will definitely not have the strength to help them as they start their own families should they be wise enough to go down that path.
The only advice I can give, if I’m qualified to do so, is to examine your reasons. If you think your reasons are just then the caseworker should respect that.
do not rob yourself of joy because of circumstances out f our control we are more than conquerers to them that love GOD HOW CAN WE SHUT OUR HEARTS JUST KEEP IN MIND GODS WORD SAYS TO KNOWETH TO DO GOOD AND DOETH IT NOT TO HIM IT IS SIN. DONT SHUT DE DOOR ON A TEMPORARY PROBLEM
Not all the children are so damaged. It’s saddens me that the perfect little kid may miss out on a great upbringing for one article. You can always return or refuse the “wrong” child. Keep in mind those in the worse conditions need the help more. Being the only child In your home makes it a lot easier as well. Blessings
My husband (35yo) and I (28yo) just completed our first day of CORE training. We had an initial info session a few months ago, now are 8hrs through 24 hrs of training, and then if we are still interested we can sign all the confidentiality papers, start the official application & begin the 2-3 month home study. We have several friends & family members spread across the US who have fostered or have adopted from the foster care program, and because of them we have seen a very wide range of experiences, joys, severe challenges, success stories, and heartbreak. Everything you have said has rung true to someone we know in the foster system.
Our friends’ experiences and what you have written come across as far more honest and real than the bubbles and sunshine song and dance from the initial info session. Today was a little more real but still very upbeat, with no mention so far as to behavior issues. We’ll see what tomorrow is like. I am curious just how much they will delve into the depths of emotional issues, court, rules & never ending red tape in the next 2 days. Our county Foster agency prides itself on reunification, which honestly my husband and I both already have trouble agreeing with- I like your 6 month policy better. I understand that people go through extreme poverty, addictions and hard times and can definitely change for the better, but I dislike betting a child’s future against this supposed “one fine day” change when all evidence points to no change..
My husband and I have no children and all our family members are trying to pressure us into trying to have bio kids first. (We haven’t tried at all yet). The thing is, I currently would rather help and love a child that is alive NOW in any capacity that I can than add another child in the world, and no one seems to understand that. I know we could adopt outright if we wanted to, but I am hoping we can help multiple children get through hard times while we try to decide if long-term parenting is for us.
We are currently only looking to respite foster and then work up to regular fostering. We may consider foster-adoption, we may look into regular adoption, we may decide that we want to try having bio kids, we may say to hell with parenting and go on luxurious cruises.. 😉
Personally my biggest fear is that I will not be able to emotionally handle losing these children over and over again if I think their reunified home does more harm than good. Are we making the right choice? How does anyone even begin to decide???
I would love to know where you are at now. Did you finish all the trainings and certifications? I feel like I am in the same boat as you. Stable, reliable and have a lot to give. I would rather help children that are in need NOW instead of having my own. However, my life is so pleasant, so easy and simple. This article is so real and frightening… I would like to read 10 more people’s real story so I can truly see from all perspectives. I know I *could* handle it… but then I am not sure if I *should*… Is it the right choice…. like you said. What are you doing now?
I can understand the majority of it. It is incredibly difficult especially when all you get from the child is attitude. He is going through teenager attitude and rebellion with a 10 year old mindset. I’m at my limit and don’t know what to do. He doesn’t want to help himself but expects things to be done for him. If anyone knows ways to handle it I would be ever so grateful but I’m guessing if a Licensed Therapist can’t get through fully to him…how can I as a foster parent do it.
My wife and I talked about this a little last night and she had some good ideas. I don’t know if you’ve considered it but horse therapy is supposed to be really good for a lot of kids (we’re planning on doing it this summer). Horses are constantly trying to form relationships (due to the herd mentality) and many people have reported good results with it. The Limbic system in the brain merges social, emotional, and learning functions and apparently when it’s firing on all cylinders it helps the brain form more positive connections. I can’t speak to its effectiveness but it has apparently worked very well for some children who have trouble forming bonds. The neurons are there, they just might need some help reforming to form relationships.
Another option would be art therapy, or what I call “art”. As you well know, foster and adoptive care affects the grown ups as well. Abstract Expressionism, itself, has been therapeutic for myself. What I paint is largely done by splattering paint on a canvas but somehow, some way, I feel better after doing it. It’s not violent, or angry, but it is intensely focusing. God made us creative and I believe that creativity is core to the human experience. You might try giving him some canvas, some paints, some brushes and some space outside. And when he’s done something ask him what it means to him. You might be surprised at some of the responses you get.
Just make sure to use acrylic and not oil-based paints. 🙂
I recently attended a foster care seminar. White, black and hispanics have close to the same number of children in foster care and waiting for adoption. So its a big MISCONCEPTION to think there are fewer white kids in the system than other races.
In Texas, white children represent 30% of the cases. Blacks are lower, but so is their population. Mexican children are higher, but so is their population.
In terms of the number of children waiting to be adopted Black children are almost even with White children despite having a general population 3 times lower. That’s seriously skewed to the negative. Hispanic children waiting for adoption are approaching double how many White children there are. In addition the average age for White children being adopted is 4th lowest. That would seem to indicate that they get out of the system quicker.
Thank you for taking the time to write this! Fostering is no joke even if you get a sweet and healthy 3 year old. We have had our first foster placement for two months and even though the disruption to our family was jolting, we could not have asked for an easier little fellow. Having said that, two issues have made the adjustment of having a foster child particularly difficult for me, the foster mom. The first is guarding my heart from becoming too emotionally invested in this little person. Secondly, the stress of making sure he doesn’t hurt himself while playing so that his mother doesn’t file a report against us. The fear of being “that” family who hurts their foster kid is real, but hopefully the longer we have him, that fear will subside.
I am going to take your suggestion to invest all my heart into our foster kid because I believe that in the long run, even though it may cause me deep pain, it is the best thing for this child. All my best to you and your family!
I can sympathize with both your concerns. The first was on getting too emotionally attached. My wife and I did that with the first baby we got and when she was sent to a family member it pushed us into a deep depression.
The second is on being concerned about if your child will be removed. The children we adopted were removed from another home for “suspicious bruises”. Having parented them not for several years I can say there is nothing suspicious about any of the various injuries they get. But the down side of our case is that the family from whom they were removed would have been placed under investigation and possibly losing their license. That has very long-lasting repercussions.
I have been a Kinship Foster Mom now for 6 months for my Grandson, age 6, whose Mom is a crack addict with serious medical problems (Diabetic 1, absesses on her kidneys, pancreas disorder, and only weighs 99 pounds). She currently has been charged with Neglect and Abuse and is not willing to give up drugs to get her son back on a permanent basis. My Grandson loves living with me as our lifestyle is quiet and he now has the stability and routine that every child should have. He loves me who has always been in his short life. The “problem” lies with the case workers who insist that I should NOT say anything “negative” about his Mom (my own daughter), or talk about to others via the phone on how his Mom has called me all kinds of gutter names and wishing I would die, or how she signed herself out of a Drug Rehab after only 2 weeks. My GS is a very intelligent little boy and knows what he has seen and how his Mom acts and has even said to me “If my Mom really loved me, she wouldn’t do drugs”!!!! He does NOT want to go back and live with her. The case workers have threaten to remove him from my care unless I become a hypocrite and tell my GS “Mommy is sick and we have to help her get better” but at the same time, tell me that my only contact with her is when I bring my GS for his visits with her that are supervised twice a week which I have been doing. This does not count all the times she calls my house and if I answer, get the nasty name calling from her (I hang up when I hear then). My biggest fear is my GS will be removed from my care which will end up tramatizing him. I have considered taking full Custody of him which would wipe our CPS from our lives but since his Mom would never agree to this, upon legal advice I have been advised NOT to pursue this. At this point in time, I have to put up with all of this emotional tug of war for the next 7 months at which time her paternal rights will be taken away from her and I can legally adopt him as my own – at the age of 80! Think twice before ever getting involved with foster care and social workers that believe raising a child comes out of a school book.
Boy can I relate to your situation! I have full guardianship of my 12 yo gs, had him since birth. We just recently got his little brother, 4yo as kinship care. CPS wants us to go through the foster care program but I think his mom won’t want to jump through all the hoops the state will require so she would probably agree to a guardianship for him also. I think when it is your grandchild and if you can handle it financially you are better off going the guardianship route. We have had no regrets in taking guardianship of his older brother who has added so much joy and love to our lives. He is a very stable and loving boy thanks to being in a consistent, safe home for the past 12 years with little input from his biomom. I want the same for his little brother if it isn’t too late. He’s seen a lot in his short 4 years. I am hoping we can turn him around before permanent damage is done and I am afraid if we do the foster care route he will be placed back with her only to see more of the same domestic violence and drug use. He would most likely be yanked out of her home again and have more serious issues when we got him back a year or two later. We too are constantly accused by bio mom of “stealing” her first son and now she is starting in saying we are trying to “steal” her younger one. Bless you for being 79 years old and taking in your 6yo grandson! I don’t know how you have the energy to do it but i guess God gives us the strength we need to get through each day. Still, you are an angel and I’m sure you are making a huge difference in your grandchild’s life!
Very informative… not so much for the end im on currently. .but im praying so hard that my babies were were graced with a foster family as selfless and kind hearted as you displayed in your opinion article!!!
Blessings to you and your family I wish I could be more like you sir.
We have had my biological niece since she was born..she is a year now and there are two other children also living with family members. We had to go through kinship fostering because she was already a ward of the state when she was born. Now they are talking about reunifying her with the parents..We have been treated so poorly by the workers I will completely be done with the system if they do place her back into the situation that she was saved from. We are at our wits end on anything we can do to try and save her from having to go through the pain my oldest nephew has had to endure. The one worker is a monster. She has put her hands in my face, lied to us, has made cruel comments, talked of confidential situations in public,threatened us and all around placed the child in danger in more than one situation. The other worker is MIA. The Foster worker also MIA. As for being paid we did not receive any “check” until the baby was well over seven months old. No clothing vouchers either period. The only thing we have received is WIC and I had to go to the DHHR office several times because the worker failed to help to get the baby’s medical card for her first shots. I ended up having to take her to the health department and pay for it out of pocket because the DHHR wouldn’t get anything in gear for us. Its been a battle from hell and it seems like a waste of efforts at this point considering we have got her to this point only for her to be placed right back in such a bad situation. Thank you for writing this. It sadly made me feel better to know that we aren’t the only ones who have been shit on by the system.
Very interesting read. I have been researching foster care for a year or so. My biggest concern has always been the heartbreak of having a child returned to an unstable home. My other big concern has been wanting to adopt every child that comes into my home.
Anyone that has done foster care who have their own children, how do you balance your biological children’s needs with the needs of the foster children? My Children are 21, 13, and 7. We have talked about doing foster care with them, and they are all on board. They are all great kids, but I don’t want to jeopardize their childhood attempting to help other children.
Two years ago, almost overnight I became a mother of six instead of two.
With a wonderful daughter of 23 right out of college and already rising up the ladder of success, and an awesome 11 year old adopted son who I had raised from birth; the mental calculation and decision took all of one minute to say yes, when the Department of Child and Human Services approached me to take in a relatives children. Two beautiful children, a 1 year old and a 4 year old who needed a permanent home.
Not one ounce of thought came in to consider that five months prior, I went into a new marriage and a custody battle for two new step sons 6 and 9 who were also in an extremely dysfunctional situation.
I had no reason to doubt I could be their savior and mom having also been a successful business owner for 28 years, a fill fledged entrepreneur, a TCI certified turnaround coach, life coach and domestic violence counselor. A State licensed substance abuse counselor, a pastor and biblical teacher, a published author of two self help books, this should be a breeze.
But; Nothing could have prepared me for the Chaos and dysfunction God had dropped me in the midst of.
Having never had first-hand experience with traumatized, neglected and abused children who express anger through violent outbursts and cursing, hiding under chairs and 10 minutes later acting normal. Babies crying out in the night in horror and falling out of bed during their nightmares. What a wake up call from my counselors perspective.
I am now for the most part an on the go mom with the kids needs top priority even over my business and its finance.
I was running my life, it was not running me. Now I’m running from counselor to therapist to schools, to DHS to CPS to Foster Care Services, to the Adoption Agency, and to the courts, with everyones required paperwork, all the while still perusing their financial and medical needs to be established. And still be their for the children’s daily needs.
Knowing these children have been deprived in teaching even the simplest of life-skills that make for a functional family, and knowing that they are a product of the environment they have been subjected to, does not make it easier in not becoming overwhelmed and frustrated no matter how strong you are.
There have been so many things the counselors or medications being prescribed for the children haven’t been able to do in helping the children, or us as a family unit.
In searching for help aids and services, nothing I have found can help with all my diversified issues and challenges, and It didn’t take long to realize how little my own experience and training could do to help in turning my new family into a functional home, much less keeping myself from needing counseling and meds too.
We have all come so far but I can’t deny, there have been many times I would have given up if I hadn’t known and trusted God and believed that he must have a different plan and purpose for me. Also knowing these children need me to succeed has made my determination even stronger.
I found myself praying more and more for God to help me help these children, and provide them with a good home and family.
I would have never been able to foresee or imagine my lack of ability in maintaining a my stable, sound environment I and my children had maintained for years prior to fostering.
From first hand Experiance I can relate to every persons story/nightmare. The paperwork, lies. Lack of support, being accused , scrutiny over your family, your personal business and decisions become that of the state and the Foster care workers.
More truma being put on the children trough the system, of which you now have to be a part of, due to the Foster system requirements.
I had to watch and participate in more trauma to my 4 year old when the parents didn’t show up for the visits, the nightmares when they did. It goes on and on just like all these stories are saying.
Two and a half years and our lives and future are still being mandated by a system that is totally dysfunctional in itself.
The greatest obstical I still face every day is the foster and adoption workers mandating and dictating my life and decisions. Even telling me what I can and can not do with my own children, my home and family is not my own any more. In my Experiance Most of the dysfunction and lack of stability is caused by and due to the system not the foster children.
The needs and behaviors of the Foster children are one thing but the bull of paperwork, compliance, lack of financial, medical, daycare, and so much more from the system will change you and your current family like you can not even imagine.
I went from business woman to being placed in the welfare system of which I qualify for nothing to assist in the children’s needs. As a business woman I never worked so hard, wasted so much time, or did more paper work for less benefit in my life.
I hear stories like these everyday in my own realm of fostering parents.
Think more than twice, especially if you have managed to maintain a stable environment for your current family, or strongly consider fostering just one child.
All I can say is, OMG. What kept you from running out the door straight into traffic? The system uses us like toilet paper. There is no respect for the foster parent.
I am a single business woman working from home as well. My first placement was a extremely sick baby that I had to take to ER. I am currently taking a break between placements and seriously considering whether I want another one. My ultimate goal was to adopt.
Maybe I should just get a second dog and call it a day!
Wow. Thank you for your candid share. My husband and I are about to begin classes next month, and reading this post and all of the shares of others has been sobering.
I read a book called “Raising Abel” by a woman who fostered and eventually adopted a toddler out of a horrific home situation. My take-away from it was that (A) every parent who wants to foster should read it, just in case you end up with a child who’s been through that, and that (B) children who have experienced severe sexual trauma should if possible be placed in homes without other children, so the parent can devote virtually all of their non-working time to that child and their extensive needs. It was a fairly hopeful story, in the end, but doesn’t cover up the harsh reality that some damage is irreversible, even with the best of intentions and the most valiant effort. It can, however, be diminished, and sometimes that has to be good enough.
I’ve read a few articles that sugar coat foster parenting. Article and advertisements that state “All they need is a little love”. Love is the main ingredient but that’s not the only ingredient in that recipe. You as a foster parent and the foster child need a whole lot of stuff for that recipe to be complete. I really enjoyed the article. Thank you for being “REAL” about the whole foster parenting ordeal….
I love you……..I have been a foster parent for 22 years, brilliantly written.
Thank you… Its so hard to find posts that tell it how it is…. Thank you for laying it out here for all to read… for preparing me a little better for what I know is coming our way… IF our paperwork ever gets done.
I agree 100% that we need to cut down the case load of the workers in the system. There is such a need for Foster parents, but we cant move forward because our paperwork is stuck under a mountain on an overworked workers desk….. We know it needs changed, your points are good ones… Now– HOW do we change it?
My thought? Make it harder to remove kids, but easier to terminate parental rights once the kids have been removed. In Texas, at least, CPS has a 65% re-unification failure rate (give or take). There must be some way of identifying common traits of a successful re-unification and if a situation doesn’t have any of those a judge could determine that a case could be fast-tracked.
I agree with you 100%. We were seriously considering foster care; we had even started the classes but the system is so broken.
100% There’s a take and investigate later mentality. The “system” in some cases could just help the current situation, say and extra bed, vacuum or food. It’s scientific proof children fair better with parents and many removals are somehow connected to poverty.
My wife and I are struggling new foster parents. The child we have is the sencond child born to the parents. The first child was born and removed for abuse before three months. When the bay was finally taken to the ER. the baby had broken ribs, bruises, cuts, and so forth. The mother was aware, but did not immediately take the child to the hospital.
My wife and I also feel like the state lies, and manipulates us. It was recomended that we join an online foster parent support group. Is anyone aware of foster parent support groups on facebook or the interenet?
Any help is appreciated.
There are support groups on the Internet, but I would highly recommend that you find one that you can visit in person. For all the good that the Internet can do, what you are experiencing can really only be handled through actual human contact. When one is in a crisis state the natural inclination is to pull away. Why would you want to share your crap with people whom you hope would still like you after you’re done? But in the end, we are built for relationships and remote relationships, while beneficial, are not the same.
With that in mind I would suggest finding a local church as a start. Most churches won’t have a specific foster/adopt ministry, but they may be more aware of what is available in your area. And if not, Google is your friend. Foster and adoptive parents are a weird bunch, but we understand the pain.
My father was adopted, so when I was very little I decided I would adopt. Now I’m making steps to begin my career and have been thinking it’s time to consider having a family and foster care keeps coming up as an option through friends, Facebook or even ads online. I have been torn because of the stories of foster children stealing, hurting themselves, being trouble etc. and kept feeling like foster care is not for me because I’ve never been a parent, so how can I deal with all of that? So I’ve been googling foster parent experiences.
Thank you for this article. As expected, I am not ready to be a foster parent but in a few years I think I will be. I kept finding articles talking about the rewards of foster care (protecting children, possible adoption, etc) or the heartbreak when that perfect kid leaves, but it wasn’t real. All those articles were pushing foster care for everyone, not bringing up much of the hardships. I’m sure I will go through hell, but when I’m ready to open my home I want any child who comes in to be as safe as possible with me and to know what it’s like to be loved. I know I won’t be perfect and it will be the hardest thing I’ll ever do, but I’m going to start preparing now.
Again, thank you for your honesty. Strangely it confirmed my feelings that this is something I should do in the future. I’ll put myself through all this pain so maybe some children can suffer less.
Thank you soooo much for being honest. This is exactly what I was looking for. Fostering has been in the back of my mind for a few years now and even though currently I do not have the means to do this I will within the next couple of years, Lord willing. I know there is heartbreak and hardships that come with fostering and am trying to do all the research now so that when the time comes I will be more informed of the reality of it.
The bottom line for me wanting to do this is because I want to help. I am a 34 year old divorcee with no children of my own and even though I desperately want children of my own (I believe I will someday) I recognize a need and see how many children that are out there who are in desperate need. I have no illusions that it will be easy but someone has to do it and I believe that I can.
Thank you again for spreading the truth and giving me a behind the scenes look at what it means to be a foster parent. It did not scare me away as I have read other people say it has just armed me with knowledge. 🙂
Wow! Thank you! That was an amazing reveal. I also appreciate the candid comments. This is exactly what my husband and I needed to know as we make our decisions about what we are able to do and what our limitations might be.
OMG …. Kevin THANKYOU do much for writing this. I feel so understood for the first time! I am a mother and a foster mother facing some hard times. But I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that somebody just ” GETS IT”
God bless you
From one foster carer to another
Wow! Your an impressive writer. Thank you for this post. My husband Ann I have been trying to get pregnant for about 6 years now and we are now ready to explore other options. I have always wanted to take in foster kids, but my husband is not convinced. I am so passionate about it that when I talk about it I well up. We are now in the perfect position to do it and he has agreed as long as we limit the age to under 5.
I didn’t find this post discouraging at all. In collage I did a lot of research about the foster care system and the emotional and developmental problems that come along with these children, so that part of your post was no shock to me. The part that scares me is the lack of freedom. My mother-in-law and father-in-law live just over the edge of our boarder. The inability to visit them scares me.
So many sacrifices….
Thank you. That’s all I can say. I have only been kinship fostering for two months and it feels like a lifetime. All of the comments, from all sides were welcome. Just to not feel like I’m crazy because we took in a three old who is still in diapers and was ona bottle until a couple months ago. That’s not to mentiona whole new world of reactive attachment disorder. I felt so lonely, thinking this girl is three! Why am I wanting to cry and scream and pull my hair out all at the same time? ! So thank you all, and thank you for the comfort and the reality that it really is worth all the pain, because I honestly can’t imagine life being any different now. Prayers and God bless all of you!
Thank you for this. My husband and i have just finished all the application paperwork and start training for foster care in a few weeks. Some parts of the system are different in Australia – the parents rights arent terminated after a year, they usually have the ability to take the children back (providing they pass all the tests and jump through all the hoops, which isnt common but occassionaly happens) until the child turns 18. And until the child turns 18 any family member could jump in or change their mind about kinship care.. you dont often know if i child is really staying with you for the long haul or not.
Thankyou for this post . I think it was really great and helpful for us to read as we start this journey!
That’s somewhat similar to how it used to be in various states. I don’t understand why any society would allow that. The first thing these children need is stability, not false hope.
Great writing. Your story mirors our 99.9% scary. I looked for a year before fostering on horror stories I didn’t find any until now.
I swear our caseworker is out for us. We hv the big house big car and live in a very prestigious location and sure ass hell do not need money, and everyone in DFS treats us like shit.
We take kids to therapy school everything 5 days a week and still we r not doing what they want. ” Hello we r busy trying to help stabalize these children. If we r doing well for these children leave me alone so we can rest.
Awesome writing, Kevin! My husband and I are Grandparents working to adopt our Grandchildren. We will be taking them from their loving, wonderful Foster Parents. We have great respect for them and will continue a relationship with them. Learned last night that their broken hearts can’t handle it any longer. They will be leaving the system when we take our kids. We truly understand and THANKFUL, beyond words, for all that you Foster Parents do.
I don’t know what to say or what to do to begin the story here it goes my very first foster mom was with Beth and Bryan Beth was nice to me at first but before school my foster mom when Brian always came home late at 5 o’clock in the morning drunk he’s a snake in my bedroom lock the door and start punching me in the face and in the stomach my foster mom was always asleep because she had work in the morning before we even went to school and when I went to school the school was concerned then Bryan the only foster parent that was in the daytime said oh he’s a new foster child he horse plays with his new older brother Nathan and I just begin to notice that Nathan wouldn’t say anything because he is being beaten to we were so scared of being beaten and traumatized again so we kept our mouths shut couple months before my birthday can I ask beth the most hardest question that I could ask her can my sister live with us Rebecca Lynn and the most uncalled and upsetting words came out of her mouth she said no thein when my birthday came my two foster brothers ask one special question to can their third brother live with us and she said let’s go sit down and talk about it and they talked a long time with them and when she got up she smiled back at them and said yes too them that made me so upset then later at night on my birthday she asked special question to me Brian would you like to be adopt I’ve had a very very long and loud no no no no no I had the least said at it least 10 to 15 time then the next day she told me I was going home and me being even more sure that I went outside when everybody was sleeping and walking and being bad and the CPS pick me up again then she told me that I had two choices either be with my little sister Rebecca Lynn or be with my older brother James and a group home I choose the group home sometimes I wish I could take it back freigabe with my little sister Rebecca Lynn no today she is a orphan and I don’t think she’ll ever come back because of me then I was treated worse in a group home I was choked and beaten by a staff in the group home been a couple months later another foster home took me in it was my second foster home my foster mom was named Tina she loved me so much just like my foster brother DeWitt I was with them for 3 to 8 months I treated them so badly as I was in my first foster home and group home they got so scared of me that they got rid of me so there I was going to second group home and they treated me badly and worser than any other place that I’ve been to been a year passes and I’m 11 years old damn my sister Teresa got guardianship Abney and her husband Max got guardianship of his little brother Daniel that was older than me we had fun and played for about 6 years but I treated them badly as I was still in the places that I was at then they gave up on me after the 6th year then they gave up on me and gave me to my mom Debra then I’ve been with her for 4 years then after I left because I was no good to anyone then I try to give myself a chance and went back to Tina she put me under her wings ina 2014 to 2015 and you mom were going to adopt me and give me you father last name to keep it in the family my last name was going to be baldonadno I treated you bad mom like I was treated when was younger was a child
then in 2016 I was trying to get her to take me back I said to her are you willing to take me back she said no to me because she is working all the time and she change of life then I asked her can I change my life with you she said no again and she says she has another man in her life then I asked her what can he take care of me while you’re working no he is a businessman he will not have time for you are fed up with you then I begged and begged and begged her to take me back and she said no because I’m too hard to handle message please please please I started crying to her then she said no for the last time no I understand now I’ve ruined her marriage and she probably doesn’t want me to ruin her new relationship so I so I understand now you do not want me to be with him now I know I do not want to destroy another life already burned so many bridges and I burned yours so all I ask for is your forgiveness now and I’m so really really sorry mom I love you mom you’ll always be in my heart always be in my heart
I meant you don’t won’t me to be with you or him
I wish I beg too jesus Christ please let me my foster mom tina baldonadno please jesus let her take me back
To my foster mom the song please forgive me Bryan Adams I’ll remake if I can can any give me Bryan Adams number too get a hold of me my number. Is 1(760)694-2442 it afishil number. I’m a really a good singer I sound usually like serj tankian it mite take a long time to get the tones right but if you’ll listening I’ll want mest up if you all hard my voice you all love me and my songs that I’m making and I just want to make everyone happy and I don’t won’t any money from no one the stores might but I don’t want money I want people to believen in me and any money that I would get will go to everyone who not just hating like but to people who are Brock in a foster home and ever good foster parents please just now what happen too you foster child and if there so bad to you and your family please don’t live and give up on them there only trying to understand that there upset and if they choose you to be in there life again it only because they really love you as a parent even if there here ever thing you say to your family like my foster mom tina when I was taken a shower I herd there fighting over me my foster in low brother John sead to her saying that I’m a bad kid kick him to the streets and live him he don’t deserve you in his life and he takes things too to fear and say bad thing to ever body look at my life my foster is never going to take me back because of me werry bad behaviour and I wish I could be different then just being not know what good or bad I really don’t know different being good or bad I got autism so I don’t know better so please foster mom’s and dad’s don’t give up it’s just the begging to show if they what to be with you and don’t say no too they if they ask you a faver if they little sister can stay with you and them tell we’ll talk about it at lest and just don’t say no just at lest say I don’t thing we got the time and if your foster child came back too you and exspan why they came back too you and believen them don’t listing to the real parent they always lie and lie and nevered the truth came out of there mouth so think of adopting them and ask them after a few days or months just don’t give up on them please just don’t that all I’m asking for you foster parents too do the right thing because everything my real parent never told me I have atisum I fond out on my own that made me cry and have a varry long sezer it at lest lasted up too 25 mins and more I called 911 when is started so thank God it past
Oh Brian, I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. Your little sister was probably better off not going to a home with that foster Dad though, as he probably would have abused her even worse than he abused you and your brothers. I hope you are able to find peace and stability as life moves forward.
And when I was upset she kissed me and check
I’ve been in foster care for 3 years but in the system for 6 years. I got adopted when I was ll and now I’m 15. I read about your passage and I really showed me another perspective and it opened my eyes. I’ve been wanting to be a foster mom since 4th grade and now I know for a fact I’m going to try to become a foster mom. I’ve struggled a lot as a child and I am strong but I want to help other kids who could possible have had the same experience as me. You writings meant a lot to me and I’m glad I got a second point of view. Thank you so much and hopefully God’s plan for me is to be a foster mother because it’s been my dream for so long. Thanks for this passage, it really inspired me!
I am a new foster mom (approved 7 days ago) . My husband and I got an emergency placement of a sibling group of 3. The Kids were FANTASTIC.. we only had them 3 days until a home that had the space could be found. The CPS worker.. on the other hand was not. We saw her for 10 minutes when she dropped off. We understood there was very little info on the children since this was an emergency placement. that was on a Sunday afternoon. We called Monday morning, Monday afternoon with no response.. Then she sent another worker to our house, unannounced to sign some documents. This worker knew less then the children worker and that didn’t sit well with us. No emails no phone calls from the childern’s worker for almost 3 days.. Until we got the call they would be moved on day 4. I know they are overworked.. But a quick email says i will get back with you, or we don’t have any new info.. or No They can not talk to their extended Family (which is what our children wanted to do, call Grandma). For our first experience it was anything but smooth. But it had nothing to do with the kids.. and everything to do with the system.. We just needed information and if they had just communicated with us.. at all.. things could have been so much better.
Wow, thank you so much for sharing and for choosing to foster children.
Yesterday, my husband and I received a call from CPS asking us if we are able to take a baby girl who’s parents are relatives of mine and are not fit to care for the child. We don’t know what we are going to do yet, we currently don’t have any children and certainly are not prepared to care for one on such short notice. Reading about your experiences has shed some light on what we may be facing.
thanks so much for your blog It is therapeutic to *me* to see that other rational, sane people struggle withthe social services sstem. I currently have two children at myhouse, a 3 yr old great niece and a 7 yr old great nephew The 3 yr old has settled in really well and is happy and secure – a hge change from the withdrawn and sad child that arrived 5 months ago. On the other hand, no matter what we have tried, we are unable to bond with or find a way to help the 7 yr old deal with his issues. Because it was an interstate kinship placement no one seemed able to get the medicaid or stipend in place – both f which I told them I needed to provide childcare and medical care/counseling for the kids. I would liek to adopt the 3 yr old and keep her in the family but since I cannot keep the 7 yr old – and I do not think our home is the best one for him anyway – social services will not let me adopt her. I am heartbroken and have no idea where to turn. Any advice appreciated – parental rights were severed and theoretically the kids are available for “kinship adoption” but they refuse to separate the sibling group Anyone know how to deal with theses people? I believe they see themselves as swooping in like White Knights and I see them more like bulldozers, leaving even more wreckage in their path
I don’t know that I can provide any advice. Not good advice, at least. Kinship placements are a hard thing, and social services do their best to place children with kin. My guess is that it’s because they don’t have to pay out as much support as for non-kin placements.
One thing that you might be able to do is find out who the children’s attorney is and see if you couldn’t get a meeting with them to see what the options are. While CPS is technically in charge if the attorney is an advocate for you it could go a long way to sway a judge. I don’t recall exactly, but I believe that the attorney representing the children should be having regular contact with them. Ours met at our home and so we were able to ask him very direct questions and he was able to give us very direct answers.
Why are you so defensive about racism? We live in a society with a long history of racism and racist institutions. Regardless of the best of intentions, as white people we do have certain privileges and develop certain thoughts/beliefs that perpetuate racism. How could we not as a result of growing up in this society? It’s not an insult; it just is the way it is. The vast majority of the time it’s completely unintentional and we are not aware of what’s happening. It’s extremely important for people who adopt or foster kids of a different race (particularly of whites who adopt/foster black kids because of our history which continues today) to understand how it works and be aware of things we may do or say can harm someone else. Just because we don’t intend it to or are not aware of how what we say or do can hurt a child doesn’t mean it’s not so. Rather than being offended and defensive about “being called a racist,” try taking in the information and thinking about yourself. If you hold fast to the belief that you’re white and think everyone should be treated equally and therefore play no part in racism in our society, I don’t think you’re being honest or real. Learning about white privilege is not a personal attack on white people. If that’s what you think it is, I think you are missing the point.
Let’s start with some term definitions. Racism is the belief that one race is inherently superior/inferior or has superior/inferior qualities than another race, with the sole basis being race. Given that I do not believe that I cannot possibly be a racist because the definition of the word does not fit my beliefs. But this state-approved training stated that I was a racist (see the second image).
This is a generalized ad hominem attack. It is attacking the character of the person based on their skin color. To say it more bluntly, whoever wrote the course was a racist. They made the claim that *simply because I am white* I was a racist. If someone were to call me a rapist or philanderer I would be rightly defensive because that term does not describe me. In the same way I am defensive about being called a racist because it does not describe me. And doubly so because the basis of the statement was simply my skin color, which is itself, a racist statement.
Perhaps I’m overly sensitive over it but a generalized, hypocritical, race-based, ad hominem attack seems to me to be the very definition of an unjustified personal attack.
These statements weren’t generalized statements about society as a whole. They were statements about individuals The first one stated that “each child is entitled (ENTITLED!) to parents who know (KNOW!) that, if they are white (AND ONLY WHITE!), they have benefited from racism.” I have written and rewritten pages of responses to that over the past 2.5 hours which I have ultimately deleted only to say that it’s one of the most historically, theologically, philosophically, economically, sociologically ignorant statements I’ve ever read. That’s not to say that there isn’t some level of truth in it. But such a blanket insult against all white people simply because of the color of their skin without regard for historical, economic, and philosophical considerations is unfounded, unwarranted, and, itself, racist.
“each child is entitled (ENTITLED!) to parents who know (KNOW!) that, if they are white (AND ONLY WHITE!), they have benefited from racism.”
Kevin, this is true. Sorry you don’t see how. Don’t be offended by it. It is not about you or people like you. It is about history. It is about socio-economic conditions. It is what it is.
It’s quite simple. I don’t see how that can be true because the 17 million white people living below the poverty line in the US negates the proposition that simply having white skin means that they have benefited from the belief that one race is superior to another.
Let me re-emphasize that sentence to make it clear why that section WAS directed at me.
“Each (as in ‘every’) child is entitled to parents (i.e. me who is a parent) who know that, if they are white, they have benefited from racism.” Each child means “every child” and that transfers, by necessity, to every parent so long as they are white, i.e. me. Then the second slide said “recognizing your own racism and adoptism is painful.”
So I cannot possibly see how the content of the course did NOT designate me as a racist *simply* because of the color of my skin. Given that racism is (rightly) seen as an inferior doctrine, that statement, by necessity, is a racist statement because it is only applied to white people. I do not believe in any way that one race is superior to another so I cannot be a racist because the word racist means, literally, “a person who believes in the doctrine that one’s own racial group is superior or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.” Unless, of course, you can only be racist if you are white, which is, again, a racist statement, ad infinitum.
Reducing complex societal problems to simple arguments like this is intellectually lazy because one has to ignore both the vast amounts of contrary data as well as alternate or complementary data. Using such simplistic reasoning when the underlying causality is complex means that the issue cannot ever be properly addressed with the end result being millions of people subject to poverty for the sake of virtue signaling.
What makes this even more insidious it is impossible to prove that it truly exists as a general privilege on the basis of skin color. This makes it an excellent polemical tool because if it is impossible to prove, it is also impossible to defend against. When I have asked people accusing me of being the beneficiary of racial bias I always ask the question “how, exactly?” Immediately after the expression of revulsion that I would have the audacity to ask such a question I am given answers such as “whites are less likely to be arrested, less likely to be in poverty, more likely to get a good job” etc, etc. Then I re-ask the question, “no, how did *I*, specifically, benefit from racism?” Then I just get the look of revulsion. Why? Because it’s “readily apparent” but unprovable. This is because any complex system such as a multi-million, multi-decadal system such as a human culture is *impossible* to measure. And so social scientists do the lazy thing, which is to find correlations, infer causation, ignore dissenting data, and call it science.
Am I the beneficiary of racism in some nominal way? Maybe. Maybe not. It cannot be proved, only correlated, and the correlation is weak, if at all. How can I say that? The same way that I can be accused of it except that I’ve lived my life and nobody else has. Everyone has their El Guapo. For some, it is poverty, others, racism, others, habits, others, their family of origin, some, all of the above. But focusing on racism as something primary is focusing on the one thing that a person cannot change: someone else. It is even worse when it is implied racism and not explicit racism because you cannot even show that the perpetrator had racist intent. You can only assert it via an ad hominem attack. Thus, it makes it an unsolvable problem. Focusing on race is not only unprovable but also makes it unsolvable. That’s a horrible position to put someone in.
Secondly, are there other things that can explain the difference between myself and those more disadvantaged? Oh, yes. There are 10 characteristics of a community that builds well-adjusted children (who also tend to commit less crime and not live in poverty). 1) a social institution that includes children, 2) treats children as ends in themselves, 3) is nurturing, 4) establishes clear limits and expectations, 5) core work performed by non-specialists, 6) multi-generational, 7) has a long-term focus, 8) reflects and transmits a shared understanding of what it means to be good, 9) encourages spiritual and religious development, and 10) is philosophically oriented to the love of neighbor. I had all of those growing up. THAT is my privilege and I wish it on everyone.
Contrast that to many black children today of whom 74% don’t even have a dad around let alone a community that is philosophically oriented towards the love of neighbor (given that blacks constitute both 78 percent of shooting suspects and 74 percent of shooting victims). If racism is the cause, how is it that the black crime rates were lower in the ’40’s and ’50’s when racism WAS legal and rampant?
So, yes, that statement was aimed at me, was, itself, racist, used an unprovable societal polemic that ends up hurting the people it’s intending to help, and blames those who open their home to help these kids escape the cycle of poverty and abuse.
Elbee, I agree: let’s be careful in how we treat others. Everybody needs to do so, not just white people. After a PhD and two successful decades in his career, my white dad was fired and replaced by a black person with little schooling and no work experience. Some black city council members wouldn’t listen to my dad because he was white (they told him so to his face.) His boss fired him to get someone they would respect. Talk about racism! And that is only one instance of racism against white people that I have seen. Now, I know that the higher rates of crime, poverty, etc. among black people is partly tied to historical racism, it’s not fair, and I’m sad that we sometimes unintentionally perpetuate these injustices. But racism has affected my white family as well.
Let’s acknowledge that white people are often wealthier; I’m not convinced that we should focus on that, though. Most wealthy-but-moral-poor families are dysfunctional and far less happy than poorer-but-moral-rich families. It’s not wealth but morals that provide a happy life; then money is frosting on the cake. Better teaching of morals could provide the foundation of happy families, and then allow us to fix generational racism such as poverty. But to work, morality must be improved among all colors.
Let me also address ‘racial privilege’ defined as benefiting from modern racism. Since racism is aimed at all colors, then racial privilege exists for all races, too. I think the black person who replaced my dad was ‘privileged.’ Modern, intentional racism would not exist if morals were better taught–but again, this must happen among all colors.
Claiming that “white privilege is the primary factor in a white person’s success;” “all people of other races are worse off than a white person;” “no other race has racial privilege;” “all white people are inherently racist;” and/or “only white people are racist” is misinformed. I have personally experienced exceptions to every one of these claims. I say my parents’ greatest ‘privilege’ is the morals they learned, which allowed them to pull themselves out of poverty (twice!) and build a happy family. Perhaps my parents benefited sometimes from being white, but negligibly so compared to what they have accomplished through hard work. ‘White’ privilege may exist, but it is only part of the picture, and it is totally unfair to not address other acts of racism or the role of personal agency. The ultimate injustice is not modern nor systemic racism. It is failing to teach children what brings lasting happiness: good values. Merely acknowledging white privilege won’t help society. What WILL fix society is teaching ALL kids to respect and help others, work hard, and take responsibility.
Thank you for sharing! I am a foster parent myself. Foster-Adoption actually, we are waiting to terminate services for 18 months now! It’s a never ending nightmare, beyond frustrating and I would NEVER do it again. Expect for that little baby love of mine, napping next to me right.
Thank you for the article. We have been fostering for 7 years now and have seen some go to family members 3 sibling sets adopted. We just sent one away we couldn’t help. It’s a ministry for us. All that you have written about we have experienced. Foster patents need a dukr group and someone out there who will have our backs.
I mean as a white person, you do benefit from racism/white privilege despite whatever hard work you think you put in, as compared to a person of color. Sure you may not feel like you are racist, but there are plenty of white foster/adoptive parents that ignore their child of color’s plights or issues that are unique to them and their culture. The paper only noted that this needs to be acknowledged. Other than that, nice read.
I wonder how the 4.2 million white children living in poverty in the US are feeling about that white privilege? Interestingly, despite the fact that the poverty *rate* among black children is higher, there are more poor white children than black children. I also wonder how my children’s bio parents feel about their white privilege, given that one of them is serving a 20 year prison sentence and the other keeps bouncing in and out of jail for minor offenses?
Given that there are more impoverished white children (who presumably had white parents) than black children (4.2 million to 3.6 million) in the US how can the statement that “if you are white you (definitely) have benefited from racism” possibly be true? Now let me be very clear. I am not denying that racism exists, or even that it hurts black people disproportionately more. Perhaps even a lot more. But I spent the first 20 years of my life having seen two black people. In total. The first may have been someone I went to school who may have been adopted. I honestly don’t know if she was black. She had darker skin than I, but was just another kid to me. The second was someone I saw at a roller rink. So if there were effectively no black people where I grew up (Canadian Mennonites with a heritage from Prussia and, earlier, Germany, tend to be white) how could I possibly have gained an advantage due to my skin color? Everyone was white!
Perhaps the argument could be made that because the Canadian government gave land to the Prussian Mennonites in the 1870’s that I indirectly gained an advantage from that. But then what would one say about the Mennonites who were conscripted against their will (they being pacifists and all) during the world wars, or if they weren’t forced into the military were essentially sent to labor camps to build out Canadian infrastructure? In addition, Mennonites were put into prison and even barred entry into Canada because of it. Every people group has been put under subjection at some point, usually many points. White slaves were brought to black Muslims in Africa by the boatload. (The word “slave” is derived from the word “Slavic”). But nobody talks about 9th Century African Muslim Privilege.
Let me re-iterate. This does not negate what has been suffered by black people, even to this day. Nor does it negate that, in European-derived countries, some whites, perhaps even a majority, have it easier. What I AM saying is that does not *automatically* translate to a position of privilege solely on the basis of racism. There are far too many white people, including in white localities, living in poverty and broken families for that privilege to be true in any general sense.
“The paper (training?) only noted that black children’s plights need to be acknowledged”
No. That’s not what it said. It said “Acknowledging your own racism and ‘adoptism’ is painful” The sentence structure makes it clear that the focus is not other people’s race; the focus of that sentence is the student. In this case, me. Ergo, the sentence is a defacto assertion of my racism. I do not believe in the superiority of any race and I do not believe that there is ANYTHING inherently inferior about anyone on the basis of race. I also believe that judgment calls should be made individually as much as possible. I watch white people acting untowardly as much as black people. Inversely, I watch black families with utter glee (as I did this past Easter morning at breakfast (they probably thought I was some weird white guy who kept looking at them (maybe I am))) because that shows that there is hope even if things are harder. But not only that, my perspective is that what has been done to the black family by keeping people in poverty and encouraging broken families is deplorable, even though the intention behind it is good (intending to alleviate poverty, but using means that are virtually guaranteed to fail). I believe that all people; red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.
But no, I need to acknowledge my own racism (according to the training) because I’m white. THAT is a statement that is inherently racist. Unless, of course, white people are the only ones who can be racist. Which is, again, a racist statement.
Good point, Anna.
Thank you for your honest and forthright ‘devoile’ of the foster parent experience. It is very useful to me as I contemplate dedicating myself to that path..
The only positive contribution I can possibly make to your page here is perhaps in regards to the issue of ‘racism’. I agree, you have due reason to be offended by the state-allegation of personal ‘racism’ instituted as part of your foster parenting training. Regardless if it was a misguided effort at ‘cultural sensitization’, as a humanist, I can see how it must have been an affront to your senses. Ironically, it is an insult to the intelligence and good character of those who have actually already made those efforts to be interculturally sensitive.
Your qualification for the root of “slave” is also eye-opening (re: ‘Slavic’ Byzantine era – thank you for that history lesson).
From my understanding, “racism” is a _systemic_ bias against a specific group of people based solely on race. Although the socio-economic and psycho-political climate of the Byzantine period traded ‘Slavs’ as spoils of war or conquest throughout Europe and Africa (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_medieval_Europe) > Slavery was more of a ‘new commerce’ of forced labour, and a marker for ‘civilization’ as argued here: http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?ParagraphID=cio.
Some slaves were Christian, some were Muslim, some were all sorts of other religions likely – and there were even some sanctions against the selling of Christian slaves to non-Christians, which could be deemed a relative privilege (based on a privileged religion, rather than a ‘race per se) at the time, lol.
Point being, “racism” did not necessarily begin with “slavery” in the historical sense that you describe. According to Tim Wise, “racism” (where “white” became a ‘race’) as a tool of socio-economic division, did not begin until the 1600s in the (North) American context at least (see: https://www.facebook.com/reggiehoodofficial/videos/1049735151736594/?pnref=story).
To the extent that North America was built on ‘white privilege’/racism, and that those who are not visibly of the ‘white race’ face extra barriers to success; perhaps the state-training/cultural sensitization could be more effective if it provided that kind of a context, rather than being delivered as a ‘personal attack’..
I do not think you disagree with the existence of ‘white privilege’ per se, but it is a difficult and unpleasant thing to examine how any of us may have benefited from racism (viz., a _racist system_) even if we do not personally advocate it ourselves. There can always be found relative inequalities within any culture or society – having grown up in a predominantly white culture, perhaps your empathy was sensitized more to that context (-did you notice whether those 2 non-white people that you knew had to put up with more questions about their backgrounds/more obstacles in their way to succeed? , or whether there are differences in adoption rates of ‘white’ vs ‘non-white’ kids in the foster system for example?) I am not suggesting that anyone is ‘racist’ here – just that ‘benefits of white privilege’ have many aspects that can be difficult and unpalatable to trace in our own personal lives..In that light, ..I hope I have not muddied things further here. Just hoping to assist..Thank you for the work that you do.
My parents took in many foster children. They were all under three at the beginning. They stayed as long as one year to seven years. They then, usually on short notice were yanked out of our home, whereas some returned, for the mostpart, I never saw them again. I was six when a trio of siblings arrived ages six months, eighteen months, and three years old. When they left I was thirteen and they were seven, nine, and ten years old. To this day I have never know a greater grief. I have never seen anything written on the trauma of the children of foster care providers, but it was so painful, that I can still hardly bear to think of it. I and my three siblings, as adults, agree we are very damaged. It has impacted our ability to have normal relationships. In all reality it was like having forty siblings go missing, who no one is looking for, there are no missing posters, and your family never again gets to know what happened to their children.
You are completely right. The trauma of the foster parent’s children is virtually ignored. This post was about the trauma that foster parents go through (i.e. me), but I didn’t have any bio-kids of my own. But I know of people who did and how they had to stop fostering because of what it was doing to their family. Secondary trauma is a very real thing, is largely ignored, and can have long term impacts, just as you are describing.
wow, i have never read anything truer than this. thank you! i so needed this tonight.
Thank you for your article, and to everyone who contributed with their comments.
I am a mother of three children all aged under nine. We are going through the process of getting approved for fostering (we live in Singapore). As far as I have learned, no parental rights are terminated here until the parents choose to terminate. However, foster parents are free to make most decisions for the child, and can take them overseas on holidays (with parent consent – apparently, usually given). Foster children are encouraged to attend the same school as your own children, and the State pays for enrichment classes for the child, should you be willing to organise and take them there. Placements are dependent on race and religion (being Christian, a Muslim child, or Hindu child, will not be placed with us).
While I do feel a ‘duty’ to foster, I will not proceed if, after further education, I believe it will be detrimental to my family. As much as my ego wants to take in a child, my first duty is to my existing children.
Singapore, does not have the drug problem found in the States, or Australia (where I am from). As you are probably aware, Singapore has a very strict drug trafficking laws, and the laws react strongly to anything detrimental to public peace. However, they seem to be less likely to intervene in how people parent (not always good) and there is a definite need for social and foster care.
I have very strong views on reintegration with dysfunctional families. I believe with children, one strike you are on probation, two strikes you are out. Our social and individual development cannot overcome the damage done by bad parenting, severe neglect, or abuse. Those neural pathways are formed in early years, and exposing a child to nothing but detrimental behaviours leaves almost irreversible damage (as detailed by your’s and others’ experiences). Removal and intervention at the EARLIEST age is vital for a child to be raised to be a functional and productive member of society. Good parenting comes from hours and hours of attention to needs, love, consistent boundaries, and explicit teaching, not gifted from the womb or biology. The psychologist’s argument that more damage is done to a child by removing them from the biological parent is redundant, and ridiculous. Know that, like our social care system, psychiatry is a developing science – not perfect, and certainly not exact.
The social care system that you and others are faced with is totally discouraging. Oh how our drug, alcohol, social problems, and prison population could be lessened by attentive parenting (biological, adoption or fostering)!
If there are enough of you as detailed by this blog, why not start a movement? Orchestrate a change? Not with the CPS (who would obviously write a very different blog), but as a separate entity. Foster parents come from a range of professions, and if there are a substantial number of you (that aren’t too exhausted by the fostering paperwork), you should AUTHOR A PAPER on the changes that need to take place. Now. Your government is about to change. Hand them The Paper. Who else would have an authoritative and expert voice?
Wow. That is a really intense look onto foster/adopt dealings with the state. My husband and I just went an orientation and then a meeting last night and the questions really were probing. Both of us left feeling like we said the wrong things. It got real. Thank you for sharing so candidly about your struggles and triumph throughout the whole process.
I think sometimes it would have been easier to just go the route of having our own, but we both decided that we didn’t need to have biological children when we first got married. We were both in our late twenties and felt we would adopt. Fact is, life goes by fast and now I am 39 and he is 37…we just keep putting this off because it isn’t the right time, but I think that it is an excuse because the more we learn the more we are shying away from it. It is leap for sure.
Maybe we are just too set in our ways, but in many ways I still want to go through with it but it is going to take an all in approach. We have a strong bond, but who knows what will happen throwing in all these other variables. I want to help children, but I also want to be the parent and in charge of what goes on in the home without state people dictating my every move. A private adoption from another country sounds more and more appealing because it completes once that child is placed with you and you bring them into the country. Yes it takes longer, but once the child is yours it is yours.
A lot of thoughts right now. I am sending this to my husband for him to read.
Thank you for writing this.
My neighbors are foster parents. They had a little girl they were fostering who was the same age as my daughter. They played together nearly everyday. On Monday DHR came and took her away. My neighbors are moving to another state. I have been shocked at the level of devastation I feel. I feel as if my own child has been taken from and I don’t know where she is. I have been crying daily over this loss. My husband has said OK, we can do foster care. But is their any chance we could get that child? I would adopt her in a minute. I know her parents rights have been terminated. Any advise would be appreciated.
Given that I have a very narrow definition of “impossible” to things that are truly _im_possible I would say that it is possible you could get the child. This is going to sound harsh, and that is not my intent, but with the realities of how things work, I suggest you grieve instead.
But with that in mind, I would also suggest that you talk to the foster parents and see if you can get their contact’s information and make an exploratory phone call or email.
I loved your writing and am so thankful for the honest insight. As far as the racism goes with white people. I live in California in a large city. The minority here are whites. Since I have been old enough to work I have lost job opportunities because I did not speak Spanish, have been passed over for hire because I didn’t get the extra minority points in testing, even though I actually am the minority. I have been called racist names and treated differently (derogatorily) by Mexicans my whole life based on the color of my skin. So yes, I totally agree that just because you are white does not mean you have lived your life with privilege. The only time being white was actually NOT a disadvantage was the 7 years I served in the Air Force. Then I was treated like crap for being a woman.
There is real segment of the lighter skinned population that is actually experiencing the racism that current culture says can only happen to people of color. Being a minority does seam to lead to being on the receiving end of the kind of racism that puts you in the penalty box socially and financially. Also growing up in poverty in these times erases any benefit you received from being white in earlier eras. Now a person with a darker skin color who works in a degreed high paying professional career can look down her nose at a person with a lighter skin color and spew hate and accuse the other of just wanting white privilege when the lighter skin colored person wants health care or a living wage. None of this current culture of hatred of white people considers that not all light skinned people have gotten in on that sailed ship of white privilege. Sure white privilege remains intact as long as the assets of the previous generation remain intact and are passed to the next, but now, once you get knocked out you will not find any favors for your lighter skin.
Great writing. Love your sense of humor in the whole thing and your honesty and insights. I foster in Australia, and it parallels what you all go through over there, yet we don’t really have adoption on the table.
I loved your article. My family has dobeen foster care for 18years and they just recently “retired.” Everything you have said is absolutely true. To a nonfoster family they would think you are over exaggerating but it is was a foster parent goes through every single day. I have read lots of articles on what it’s like being a child in the system and what it’s like being a foster parent but what about the bio kids of the foster parents? As a bio kid I’ve had my fair share of unique experiences yet and I know there are many just like me, but where are those articles? Everyone thinks that fosterkids and foster parents are the only ones who need support. But what about the bio kids who share their rooms? Their families? Their lives? If you know of any articles out there please direct me towards them because I would love to read them.
Indeed. And it’s not just the bio kids who share the room; it is anyone who has not suffered the original trauma, but has suffered the secondary trauma by being around the children who had the trauma. The secondary trauma is significant. I am fairly convinced that my youngest, whom we got when she was 6 weeks old, has suffered almost as much as my wife and I. The foster parents feel it, the bio-children feel it, as does foster children who did not suffer the initial trauma.
My daughter and her husband fostered twin boys for 20 months (since they were removed from bio parents at birth). It was their first foster placement and they were led to believe the twins would undoubtedly be adoptable given the negative circumstances of the birth parents (mental problems in the mom and criminal record of the dad). However, after falling in love with the boys and fully attaching to them and them to the family, DHS and the court decided that the parents must be given a chance to parent their children. With no transition, the 20 month old boys were taken from the loving foster family and given to the parents, thankfully kept on a trial reunification, but with inadequate oversight. The boys are still with their birth parents after 6 months despite the court knowing that things are not going well in the home (lots of conflict between the parents who are now splitting up, the mother keeping the children inside all the time, neglect that doesn’t quite reach the level necessary to remove the children). As the “foster grandmother” who loves these children dearly, it has been heartbreaking to lose them and know that their young lives have taken such a devastating downhill turn. And it has been equally heartbreaking to see the grief of my daughter’s family at losing what they considered their children. Now, our only hope is that they bio parents behave in such a way as to endanger the children so the court can finally act to remove them once and for all.
Gahh that sucks
Kevin, thank you for your honesty. This confirms what I’d already suspected–my husband and I are just not emotionally equipped to become foster parents in the current system. It would be too much stress and heartache. So I’m going to stop researching this. Instead, I will help by being a literacy volunteer for children-at-risk or something similar.
My prayers and respect go out to people like you who can handle this. I just know I’m not one of them.
That is every bit as legitimate. Not everyone should foster, though I think that you would find that you can take more than you think you can. We are not emotionally equipped for it either, and I don’t know that you really can be. It puts you through the ringer like nothing else. But, to paraphrase Calvin’s dad, it does build character. More character than you could possibly want. You end up with a much deeper understanding of the human condition, realizing that most of what people believe about people is wrong.
But I would not try to convince you to foster nor dissuade you from volunteering. The level of need is gargantuan and many people are needed to take on different tasks.
Wow, I needed to read this today. I am the foster to adopt mom of a 7 year old removed from his bio meth addicted mom for domestic violence (by boyfriend) and neglect. He was removed at the age of 3.5 years and had a failed adoption at the age of 5. I agree with you, some parents should not be foster parents. With every loving intention, the failed adoptive family told him they would be there for him forever, that they would adopt him as soon as the mandatory 6 month mark was reached, and that God loved him and he needed to believe in him and prepare his heart because Christ was coming back soon and that would keep him safe. At 5.5 months, they demanded that the county remove him because he destroyed his room, went into a trance like state, and kept poking his foster mom. I cannot explain to you how much damage this family caused by all their good intentions. They refused to wait for another family placement for him and he was thus taken to a large 200 plus kid group home and stayed there for 9 more months until being placed with us. He had 3 other foster only family placements before he was matched with us (adoption only). With us, he has exhibited behaviors that were never seen at other placements. He became incredibly violent, kicking and punching, pinching me until I bled and laughing. I had to fight with the county and was finally able to get proper restraint training. He throws photos off the wall, runs into traffic to see if I will save him, tries to throw the car into park, punch and pull my hair while I am driving. He has punched a picture frame so he could seize the broken glass. We had a poop smearing incident (fixed that real quick by making him clean it up himself, never to be repeated) and have had ongoing issues with him peeing his pants in the middle of the day and not cleaning it up. Recently he kicked a hole in the wall. I know what its like to have to him in a full on laying down restraint on the sidewalk on the way to school while people drive by and glare at me, most likely think I’m excessive and not realize that I’m keeping THEM from running HIM over. I’ve gone to a gynecologist appointment and had to warn them about the bloody pinch marks and bruises on my legs and that it was my child, not my husband. School police escorts to get to school, reports filed including photographs of mine and his injuries due to restraint to the county, yeah, I’ve done that. And I can’t help but think that a lot of this behavior could have been avoided if that family had never fostered. But over the past year, so many of these behaviors have gone extinct. He was socially awkward and now he keeps friends. He could barely read, now he is solidly average in all subjects. When he’s not angry, he is kind, caring, affectionate, funny, and just down right amazing. It still doesn’t stop all the hurt that he heaps on our family via his hateful words, his ability to ruin many outings and every single camping trip we have gone on. But it helps. It sucks knowing I have to move from including him in all family activities to now putting him in respite every time we want to do something fun, as that’s the only way at this point in our lives that my husband, 4 year old daughter, and I can make great memories and not horrible ones. I hate that I’m slowly turning into the stereotypical foster mom. That I don’t want to hold his hand, or kiss him goodnight, or even talk to him on some days. That I vent and bring up all his faults to strangers I’ve barely met. That I have to introduce myself to our new neighbors and explain that he was on a deck chair screaming profanities and kicking our windows because I took away the Wii for hitting his sister, and that sort of behavior is normal; hey, have you guys finished moving in yet, how do you like the neighborhood? Through it all, though, I’ve had the most amazing support team here in Washoe County. His social worker is beyond amazing, my licensing worker amazing, their supervisor, the support group leader, his therapist. They bend over backwards and always lend a supporting ear and sometimes a shoulder to cry on. So yes, fostering can be a nightmare. But my life is so much more enriched for having my mini man, as much as my house is a warzone and my neighbors think we’re crazy and I dissolve in self pity on some days. We made so much progress in one year, I just wish I had a fast forward button for the next year. Some days I would do it all again, some days I wish I had never taken the foster classes. Ask me in 5 years and I know I’ll say he was worth it without hesitation. And that’s what keeps me going.
I don’t have any response except to say “wow”.
I am a foster mom and am at my witts end. I have two siblings in foster care for a few years and am finding it harder and harder to cope with the deceipt, scheming and lies especially from the girl who is a teenager. If I knew what I now know… She is a master manipulator, loves male attention and is constantly playing mind games with me. I am in a dead end.Do I send her to a teenage centre (and split her from her sibbling). I have become aggressive and depressive. I feel so bad to give up on her, how will I live with the guilt, but I hate coming home, I have a wonderful husband, but he only wants to keep the peace and pretend we are one happy family. For her own wellbeing, but what goes on in foster centres? Biological parents only critisize and demand, never show up and when they do they are the heros, but we are the baddies in her eyes. help!!!!
That’s got to be hard. Many children in foster care are just as you say; a master manipulator. They do it because they see it worked out in their “natural” homes. The culture that many CPS kids come from excel at that. One can just read their Facebook pages to see that.
But, I believe that the best way to win that game is not to play. It is really hard to do, especially when you have CPS looking over your shoulder to see if you engage in some kind of “unapproved” action.
I can also feel your apprehension when coming home. We finally have all 3 of our kids in school and the house is so quiet now and it’s such a relief. But, 3:00’s coming and that all goes away. And you survey so many of the foster mommy blogs about how tough it is and how hard it is, but they’re “doing it for Jesus” which “makes all the difference.” In the meantime there are hordes of other people who ask why they’re not like that and have that guilt heaped upon them.
“From a child’s point of view, these kids have it made. They can eat what they want, drink what they want, sleep when they want, do what they want. As long as they don’t interfere with the caregiver, they can do anything they want.”
How sad – and heartbreaking – that you have this kind of view of kids, especially foster kids. I have fostered (many times with proctor kids/boys – also known as Therapeutic Foster Care) and worked as a clinical psychologist with foster kids for 10+ years. I have NEVER met and/or worked with a foster kid who has such views.
Sure, when they first go into a home where there are rules/boundaries/expectations, they are going to struggle and push back… out of fear. It is unknown and frightening for them on a couple of levels: 1) change is hard, especially for kids; 2) these rules/boundaries/expectations demonstrate that the adult who setting and maintaining those boundaries actually cares for the well-being of the child, something they’ve likely never experienced. Additionally, this doesn’t even take into consideration the trauma responses the kid is experiencing because of these changes.
“Many children in foster care are just as you say; a master manipulator. They do it because they see it worked out in their “natural” homes. The culture that many CPS kids come from excel at that.”
Absolutely not, they do it because they haven’t developed the skills – much less even seen the skills role modeled for them to manage and/or communicate their wants/needs in a healthy, constructive manner.
Additionally, if you consider how chronic, severe trauma effects neurodevelopment, you might have a more compassionate and understanding view of these behaviors AND kids.
These are two books that should be REQUIRED reading for all future and current foster parents:
The Explosive Child — Dr. Ross Greene
The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog — Dr. Bruce Perry
I’m just stumbling upon this article and I’m saddened by it – yet not surprised. I’m saddened that yet another piece of “oh poor me, look at what happened when I tried to be a foster parent” was published for the world to see. These are so horribly unnecessary and should be conversations these adults have with their own therapist.
I think why this comment triggered me was because 1. this foster parent is outraged that her teen girl is a manipulator and crazy about boys. Well let’s see — is that not something a biological daughter could be? Is that only because she is a foster child? 2. what does this say to you? To me it reads that she was possibly exposed to situations that lead to this behavior. 3. manipulation — imagine being a young child yourself, removed from the care of your family and then bounced from home to home where who knows what happens. What survival technique would you use? Some kids use their cuteness. Others use their ability to manipulate. Some girls might use their looks. What is this telling you? And more importantly, as a parent, what are you doing about it?
I just really wish that more people who FIND THIS THEIR CALLING would realize THIS IS WHAT YOU SIGNED UP FOR. You did not sign up to air dirty laundry. That has been done. You signed up to support and love no matter what. Being a child in the system is no fault of the child. Truly saddened…
By this same logic, we should leave soldiers who have lost a limb on the battlefield alone. That is what they signed up for, after all. In addition, we can tell them that they should have stepped over to the left a little more. Then they’d be OK. Because, while we weren’t there, we can still provide some input on what they should or shouldn’t have done. Or if they come home with PTSD we should tell them to keep their stories between themselves and their therapist. We wouldn’t want them to air any dirty laundry.
I would hope that sounds pretty stupid because it is. I would also hope that when someone comes online to find some kind of support because they are in crisis (and may have no good options in their circle) they would not be chastised by people who know nothing of their situation. When someone is in crisis, and the original commenter here clearly is (or, at least, was) the last thing someone should be doing is criticizing them.
Wow. I really needed to read this.
I am a 40 yr old divorced man. When I met my, now ex, we both declared that we did not want to have kids (her so more than me). We were both 23 years old, kids were not on my radar at that point in my life so I agreed with her. In the back of my mind I thought, well if we get married I’ll be able to get her convinced to have them. That never happened. She said to me one day that she did not want me to resent her when I’m 50 and never had kids. I respect her enough, that I will never do that for that was both our decision.
Now, I’m divorced. My friends and family say that it is not too late to have kids, but to go back into the dating scene (“I like scary movies, you?” “My favorite color is green…”) just makes me want to vomit.
My only option to ever being able to give a child a loving home and very loving father, is adoption or fostering.
I am scheduled to go to orientation to become a foster parent in three weeks. I told my family, and my friends (ala facebook), and was all excited. I even started planning on how I was going to decorate the “little ones” room.
I realize that I am already going into this with the wrong feelings intact.
I am going into this with the assumption that I would have them forever, and would eventually be able to adopt them (in NJ, the foster-adoption is easier.. so I’ve been told).
I have not given thought to how physically (which can heal) and emotionally (which might not ever heal) bent and broken these children can be. Am I ready to deal with a pooping on the walls, hair-pulling and punching while driving, smashing my belongings to grab a shard of glass to do…what ever he was going to do – kid?
And still show it love and affection?
Perhaps, I should just consider adoption without the fostering aspect.
Not to be selfish, but I would be taking on this task alone. Immediately becoming a single father, tackling all of it alone.
Thank you for this post, and the replies… I think I may need to have a serious sit down with my brain over this.
My response would be to make sure that you, yourself, have emotionally healed from the divorce first. As much as they are coming in with their own baggage, so are you. I don’t know you or your struggles but it would probably be wise to spend some time talking with a counselor ahead of time. Single parents, while not ideal, can make good foster/adoptive parents. But you will also need to make sure that you have worked out, or are aware of, any issues that these children, who are incredibly adept at bringing latent issues to the forefront, may induce.
Wow and Whoa John! You seem to have a lot going on which doesn’t seem like the right time to foster a child especially as a single parent. Until 13 months I thought single parenthood was hard.. that is until I did via DCF as a kinship. Fostering a child as a single parent is the TRUEST definition of single parenting and I do not recommend it. You/ We need support – need to have a village of people around and that doesn’t happen via DCF. I live in Massachusetts and this system seems to be broken throughout. It’s awful that DCF will allow anyone to have up to 6 children in their home at once (bio, adopted, fostered, etc) without recognizing that one person should never be responsible for even one child in a home alone, because it’s a lot of work. It is hard on you emotionally, physically and mentally. I have never had my power cut off until I had this child because I felt like I was being pulled in so many directions that things that should have been important took a back seat; so bills were late etc. I was told it would be short term..today it’s 13 months later and the end of the this month I am returning him to DCF. It breaks my heart because I have him for 13 months out of his 31 months of life. Neither of his parents were on drugs per say. I am related to the Father – the Mother has mental health issues and was taking her prescriptions while pregnant- not wise. For 6 months or better neither of the parents did anything to get their child back and I of course am the horrible person who took this child in. I only met this child 2x. He is actually my 3rd Cousin so I went from 3rd Cousin to Caregiver to him calling me Mommy.. but he calls everyone that (which is quite sad). When he came to me he was in a “daycare” where the woman was only there 2/3 of the time, she had her mother who was never CORI checked giving him expired medicine after I told her not to, the mother didn’t speak English so on the days the “daycare provider” was not there one of her children would be home to help translate. When I demanded they move him to a center based daycare the Sup. Social Worker (SW) told me that if I was going to make an issue of it they would just remove him at first I was afraid they would and then immediately I realized that they have no right to remove him when he was behind on his vaccinations -12 months at the previous foster home he was in and I ended up paying out of my pocket $900 a month for a daycare- I am glad I did it because it caused DCF to realize that they wouldn’t be able to explain why they are paying me $600 a month but I am spending $900 a month on his daycare alone. I eventually got a voucher and found him a center based facility. He came to me at 18 months only speaking 2 words, they were supposed to have in place Early Intervention but that didn’t happen until I got him. So many things have happened… he got very sick w/ a stomach bug which I took him 3x to the hospital before I demanded they keep him and admit him…I ended up getting the same thing while caring for him in the hospital when an unwanted guest showed up – a man who got passed the Nurses Station walked into our room while we were resting and wouldn’t identify himself finally he said he is “grandpa and is there on his own recognizance” that immediately concerned me as I said oh no, this man has been to jail or at the very least to court several times. I called DCF and they did nothing. I tried to explain to them that if I am not safe I cannot protect this child. So many many things have happened that I say all the time if I had known the real “cost” my decision would have been different. Sadly so many people look at this as just a job and they live off of the system this way but if you think you will be able to work full time and raise a child on your own full time you will be sure to be frustrated a lot of the time. just my thoughts
John – I hope this article did not turn you away from fostering. Sometimes when we look for the reasons NOT to, it’s easier to find then the reasons TO DO. I have adopted two wonderful boys from foster care – a 7yr old boy who is now a thriving 10 yr old and a 6yr old who is now an amazing 8 yr old. Happy to share with you more info!
I jumped through the MANY hoops to become a certified Foster Parent in California. I was approved for babies/toddlers under 2 years old because in my spare bedroom I had things in the closet. Yea, things in the closet in the spare bedroom… can’t use it.
My first placement was a 8 week old beautiful baby boy… who screamed at the top of his lungs that entire night. Next morning I took him to ER and he had 3 serious issues going on. I stayed with him for a week in the hospital before bringing him home.
He continued the intense screaming, but now was on 2 different meds 4x a day. Spent 3 full days on his appointments before his parent visit. It was too much. I notified the agency that he was more than I could handle. That is when I discovered that we mean very little to them; are state of mind, what we are going through. They called me in in order to try to guilt trip me into keeping him. I stood firm. He was taken back today. I do miss the little one, but am thankful he is someone else’s problem now.
During the entire certification process, the agency makes you feel like they are there for you, and you are important. But afterwards, you are nothing but a passing thought; someone for them to call, text, visit and collect mounds of paperwork from.
I’m not done as I really want to adopt. But I for damn sure am taking a break for a month to recoup, and ask a TON of questions before accepting the next one.
To Michelle, i am not trying to guilt you for giving the baby back, obviously you were not ready for that experience, but the reality is that lots of babies biological or not cry and keep you up all night. Yes that baby was sick on top of it all and that added to your stress and all, just dont think that it is going to be easier with other babies. They cry, get sick, and can make you exhausted, just dont expect the easy route on adopted baby. Make sure you surround yourself with lots of support system and be sure you are ready for sleepless nights and gruelling days.
Thank you for writing this.
I have felt so alone in this foster situation. People do not understand what it is like until they have experienced it. It is hard physically, mentally, and emotionally. It affects the biological kids in the home, friendships, relationships to family, work success. That’s barely the tip of the ice berg.
Foster care is difficult. There’s a lot of opportunity to do more harm than good for these children in transitional care. I’m a psych nurse who works with troubled teens and volunteer with toddlers on weekends and I still struggle with feeling adequately educated to provide therapeutic care. How does one love a child yet manage to hold their heart safely back where it won’t be crushed by unsuspected changes wrought with fostering?
Thank you so much for sharing. We are fostering and this is pretty spot on. I am so thankful to know that there are other people out there in similar shoes that we are in.
Thank you for sharing!! You were raw and honest about your feelings and experience of being a foster parent. I have been a foster child, worked with foster children for many year, and now am interested in being a foster parent. You are speaking the truth!##
My step daughter is fostering 4 children and from what she tells, although not much, is just like your story plus just reading your story makes me understand what she goes through on a daily basis, I feel for her,she is doing a good job as far as I can tell,she lives in another state and just started the process about a year ago, she received a new born all 4 kids are from the same parents thank god.I just wish there was a law for a biological mom to have her rubes tied or for a father to be fixed,i think it’s disgusting that these woman keep having babies with no consequence.
I stumbled across this AWESOME and very true post while researching adjusting to becoming a first-time foster parent. My husband & I are a pre-adoptive home to a sibling group of two and he’s having trouble understanding their behaviors (though few). Like many of the bio parents there is a substance abuse issue and incarceration and these two have been in care for 2 1/2+ years while they are still allowing Mom to work on her case plan. I dread visit day for the same reasons…all jacked up & acting out afterwards. TPR hearing is this month so I hope the system does right by these children with whom I have had a two year long relationship, yet have only fostered for just over a month. They don’t deserve to stay in a state of uncertainty and are old enough to understand “permanency” and stability. I hope that my husband can work towards understanding that these behaviors that to me seem so minor will shift as they realize that we will not abandon them even if the state decides to reunify. The emotional roller coaster will eventually stop and then we can all enjoy the ride as a family!
hey you didn’t talk about how foster kids decide to make false accusations against their foster parents. So that other foster kids with have to reinvent something adolf hitler’s level of persuasive public speaking skills, in order to protect their well loved and cherished foster parents. the reason why is because I had to just last year have to protect my foster parents butts, their own kids another foster kids, and my own butt and personal future. since one of my old foster sibling happened to go with a deranged boyfriend of hers who was also in a adult home with specail needs, decided to go to the elk grove police department and get Adult Protective Services against me and my foster parents. My foster family was lucky someone being one of their foster kids (being me) has Asperger’s syndrome and a adolf hitler and Nazi obsession, to pull off the speech to save all their butts and mine too.
Well they’re is alotof foster home I found out from my foster parents that get shut down due to crazy foster kids from biological family enviorments, like the one you have mentioned where came to your home. Because the foster kids thinks it’s somehow fun to make a false accusation, against they’re foster families and sibblings. Also I agree that foster families don’t just do for the money, because mine’s never did. Even though my college factuality members and secretaries, don’t believe me, but whether prefure to believe the fake news networks and that foster sibling of mine that made her lies against the Filipino and aussie foster parents of mine. But if I tell them both the news and that sibling are wrong about foster parents, they look at me like i’m some kind of skin head neo-Nazi, Nazi, or adolf hitler himself. The reason why is because that sibling is mental retarded, and adhd/add special needs foster care kid (now and adult when this accusation turned up against my foster family last year). Well good because I did a public speaking speech, for communications 301 class for my college transfer/ged requirements last spring semester) and got and A for my final grade (some hitler doesn’t have for his little speeches), on a research by a child psychologist that adolf hitler and 3,00 other historical figures in history could have had Asperger’s Syndrome.
I didn’t make mention of it because I hadn’t experienced that directly. I have seen the bio-parents accuse foster parents of stuff more than the foster kids. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I have thoughts on it, but I have not thought enough about it to comment.
Oh wow you hit nail dead on the head ,way to go I agree with you totally
My husband and I have been foster parents for the last 15 months….for the first time we feel completely understood! We have been fostering a brother and sister this entire time and we related to all aspects of your post and LOVE the ‘humor’ in your post.
First, let me say, thank you for your honesty and candor. I appreciate hearing the real nitty gritty of what this duty requires and not the glossed over spiel that the social workers give. I do want to comment on one thing. You took umbrage to the idea that your being white affords you a privilege in life that people of color don’t have. You also suggest that because you were poor and “pulled yourself up” that you’re not privileged. You seriously need to do some introspection and some research to understand white privilege. You go on to talk about having two parents that loved you and a father that was there. You have married parents. The reason that a lot of your (probably most of them) foster kids are in the situation they’re in is because of racism that will never, ever, affect you simply because you’re white. There are entire policies in place that literally push black families into neighborhoods with few to no resources. There were policies in place that would not allow black people to buy homes in certain neighborhoods. Some black children grow up in communities where the schools have no heat (Baltimore), they have no access to clean water (Flint) and they are shut out from the family life you described. At the very least, as a poor white child, you can turn on the television and see white people who are portrayed as inherently good, living in middle class families and being seen as pillars of success. Black kids turn on the tv and see black people portrayed as criminals, ignorant, abusive and stupid. THAT’S your privilege (among a host of other things). As a foster parent, you need to understand the myriad factors that brought this kid to this place in their lives. You need to understand how white supremacy and racism played a role in how they are experiencing the world. Have you ever had to sit your white children down and give them a speech about how to not make sudden moves if pulled over for a traffic stop? I doubt it.
If you REALLY love these kids, then fight against white supremacy and racist policies that cause them to be in this situation in the first place. A lot of white people become foster parents BECAUSE they are racist. They see themselves as these glowing, benevolent saviors of poor, uncivilized blacks who can’t even take care of their own kids. A lot of these people become foster parents because they see themselves as white saviors. It’s the same reason that white people travel overseas to “volunteer” in third world countries. It’s to make themselves appear as martyrs and feel better about themselves. I don’t doubt that fostering is extremely difficult and thankless, but if you’re going to be a foster parent of black kids, you really need to dig deep to unpack the racist ideas that you may be harboring.
Do you always call people that you don’t know a racist?
Actually, scratch that. You probably do.
I am honestly flummoxed trying to come up with an adequate response. In all likelihood, I could not. The last paragraph alone is astounding.
I’m reseaching fostering children (in Australia) and our legal system is quite different to the US, that said, there would be a lot of common themes.
I noticed that you referred to the “chain of poverty”. Have a look at Dr. Ruby Payne’s work to do with understanding poverty. I think you will find the concepts to be quite interesting. She has been looking into the common threads of generational poverty as well as how to work one on one with it; I suspect much of this you would already be doing. I also find it really helpful because it gives you an insight and the reasoning behind the poor choices we as the middle class perceive to to be terrible parenting. It really helps you empathise and understand people from generational poverty and feel less angry and judgemental toward them.
One of the things that I find interesting is that poverty and class issues are quite often confused with race issues which is something you touched on. I would argue that people who have grown up in poverty and trauma would have more similarities to each other than people in other classes no matter their ethnic background. People from each class no matter working, middle or upper classes, would have most similarity with people from their own class regardless of race.
It, however, is an undeniable fact that people from diverse ethnicities represent a much higher proportion who have grown up in poverty and trauma. The severely racially damaging actions in the past have thrust whole populations of people into poverty. Certainly, the a relative minority can break this pattern, but most do not because there are so many unseen barriers. Even if nobody was ever racist or entitled again, diverse races would still be at a disadvantage since poverty is a self-perpetuating cycle as you’ve found it to be.
Even being a minority myself, I find that nobody actually wants to be racist, so telling people they are is really offensive no matter who you are. Everyone wants to do the right thing, it’s just that people don’t always realise, know or understand how (mostly people don’t see what they don’t know). I mean think of all the things that your 30 year old self would tell your 20 year old self and then imagine your 20 year old self rolling your eyes at that advice because they just don’t know what they don’t know. I find issues such as racism and classism to be like that, we think we know, but we actually don’t. I certainly don’t know as much as I would like to. The best place to start is to explore the priviledges and the protective factors you yourself have had in life that other people haven’t and have a think about the systemic issues that have caused this (and some of these are very racially, policy and class driven). I don’t know why this type of self exploration isn’t actually taught instead of the confronting abrasive format it’s actually delivered in.
I certainly intend on going into foster caring because I believe that I can show a different (not necessarily better because better is all relative and who is to say what is right anyway) way of life to a few children who can then see that they have the choice to lead a different lifestyle that might be happier for them.
Thank you for a thoughtful reply. I’ve not heard of Ruby Payne, but she has some harsh critics which means that, at a minimum, she has something interesting to say.
I think you are largely right on most of your points (save for the “undeniable fact” that diverse ethnicities grow up in poverty. Some minorities do quite well, thus falsifying the claim). Particularly insightful is your statement saying that poverty and class issues are often confused with race issues. I would argue that equivocation would be a more accurate word choice over confusion. That would be doubly true if someone looks at the dictionary and continues to maintain that someone is a racist even if the word doesn’t actually describe them.
And therein lies the problem, as you noted concerning the abrasive format. The medium is the message, to quote Marshall McLuhan. In this case, the medium is anger (i.e. abrasiveness). Anger occurs when someone violates your worldview (I have spent some time over the past several years trying to falsify this and I can’t). So if anger is the medium (as it clearly is even based off of many of the comments on this blog post, but also in societal discussions at large), and anger is a violation of a worldview, then what is the worldview being violated?
You’ve got some great tips for being a foster parent. I’ve always wanted to take in needy children, so it’s good to see what the experience is actually like. Doing progress reports each week doesn’t sound great, but I can handle that! I’m an English major, after all.
Thank you for sharing this. What a wonderful article. I am a parent of 2 boys, my biological children and this really made me think about a few things. I give you a lot of credit, I couldn’t do it.
People often say that they can’t do something until they do. One of the things that it has taught me is that adversity is game changer, not a game ender. And it also makes me realize how deep the straits are of other people who are going through worse. We often practice pain avoidance, for good reason, but we grow more when we run towards it.
Thank you for writing this. It is eye opening. My wife and I have been thinking about adopting. After reading this. I am not sure we could rise to the challenge. I understand its not for everyone, we do have a heart for children. Especially those that have been discarded and abused by society. We have 3 children of our own who are now on their way out the door to start their lives. I was under the pretense that I could… just get a child when we were ready. Based on the foster care system you describe I am not sure the means justify the ends(for us). I am not completely dissuaded but I have realized that I did not understand the cost. God bless you, do not grow weary of Doing Good. You have given us a lot to think about. it is the crux of giving up your life for someone else. I think it is what my wife and I have been called to do.. but it is very scary… I truly admire your strength and determination.
Thanks for helping me understand that there are background checks needed and also inspections in your home. I will share this information with my sister since she has decided to foster kids. The reason is that she can’t bear a child due to how sensitive her body is. This will help her prepare everything once she gets a license to foster.
I’m still vertical. Lost our foster son in June. I want to contribute to something bigger than my pathetic loss. To do something to help make permanence an attainable goal for all these children. Are you a part of working towards that change? Are you submitting that “paper” as a previous commenter suggested? Or are you, like me, just …worn out emotionally, ready to relegate the ongoing horror to a fresh army of do-gooders (i mean that in the best possible sense)?
I’m sorry for your loss. The emotional toll is a deep one. It may take time, but the sting will go away even if the loss remains. Time does help.
Concerning that paper, I have no inclination to write it. It would just be noise. Plus I think there are far greater problems than foster care. Namely, the things that MAKE foster care necessary. 1. The false belief that the consequences of sex have no moral connection with the act of sex. 2. That the emptiness in our culture is resolvable through the use of substances. 3. That self-preservation or self-regard is the highest act of will.
Among other things. Treat those, particularly item 1, and suddenly the foster care issues would slow to a comparative trickle. Not only would you have less cases of abuse but you’d have more healthy families to handle the cases that persist.
In a kinsmanship with a child that is not related to us. It’s so incredibly hard and with zero funding. Thank you for letting me know we are not alone in feeling like fostering/kinsman isn’t a Sunday afternoon Disney film.
My husband and I have been considering fostering. I feel an obligation (a duty, as you say), but I’m not sure I’m strong enough to do it OR that I want to put my children through it.
See, I was psychologically, emotionally, and verbally abused growing up. My parents rarely abused me physically (though it did happen on occasion). They were just unstable drunks who argued constantly and left me to be the parent, essentially. They were smart, though, and my mom has a personality disorder which makes her extremely vindictive and manipulative. It has taken decades of sorting through my emotions and mental health to admit that what I experienced was actually abuse and neglect… yet my parents aren’t completely evil. I also understand that, although many people have had it much worse than me, what happened to me as a kid was not okay. Mt parents were just messed up. Their parents were messed up. And they kind of messed me up.
The first time I met a family who wasn’t completely dysfunctional, it was like a balm to my soul. I couldn’t believe that THIS was how people could live. I honestly had no idea how messed up my family was until I witnessed a healthy family. I said “I want thay life,” committed to never using drugs again, started going to church, and my life was completely changed.
Part of me feels an obligation to share that same light with another kid who is terrified and confused by the world. Yet, I keep reading blogs about what it’s really like to foster and it scares me. I have no idea how people do it or if I could. What I went through wasn’t as awful as many of these kids go through and it was really hard to for me to become “normal”. I have to wonder if there’s Amy hope for these kids or if it’s all just a pipe dream we’re have to cling to shop we’re don’t all end up on meds and in an institution somewhere.
The odd thing about life is that these things are multi-dimensional. Everyone is, to some extent, messed up. And I would propose that we’re more messed up than we even know. But that’s OK. What matters more is what you do with the mess. I’m glad you are going to church, that’s definitely a good start. That’s where hope is found. But concerning your fear, this verse popped into mind: “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Tim 1:7. Do you have reason to fear? Yes. But can you overcome it? Also, yes.
If you choose to go down this road I would recommend that you do it under the guidance of a counselor of some kind who knows you well. I would also recommend talking with your friends and making sure that you have support ahead of time. Make sure that they won’t just wait for you to make your needs know but that they will check in on you and be willing to shoulder some of the burden. Especially if you are a person who holds to her faith there is no need for you to do this alone.
But note, also, this doesn’t mean that I’m telling you to do this. I don’t know you or your struggles. It may be that fostering is not something that you are well suited for; I don’t know. There may be some other aspect of foster/adopt that you are better suited for. But look look for guidance, prayer, and a community of people who are willing to support you, whatever path you choose.
And geez. Sorry for the typos. It’s late and I have clumsy fingers.
My question is as a parent of an adult who is entering this system to possibly adopt.
I am late 60s. Being told by my son I am the only one not being “supportive “ because I am asking questions, struggling with the state forms, and sharing things from my limited experience in compared to yours.
I feel for these children.
At this point I cannot get emotionally invested thinking this might be a potential grandchild.
What would you advise to me or a person like me.? How supportive were your parents or siblings? What did it look like?
My parents and siblings were quite emotionally supportive. But because I live about 1300 miles away from them their physical support is limited. That is my doing, not theirs. But they go way out of their way to make special trips to visit us and do what they can. But because I am so far away from them it does make things more difficult. But on an emotional level they are all there with me.
If I were to venture a guess, the fear of emotional pain for you is quite high. You fear that they will get a child, you will fall in love with it, and it will be taken away. At least, that’s what I think based on what you posted here.
The truth of the matter is that you are going to get hurt. You might not end up losing a grandchild, but there will be, in all likelihood, something in the process of adoption, and even post-adoption, that validates your fears. But we have two options. 1) protect ourselves, or 2) muster up courage. To quote John Wayne, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” In this case, it would be knowing that you’re going to get hurt but committing to it anyway.
But that also needs to be balanced by wisdom. Only an idiot throws themselves into a hail of bullets yelling “COURAGE!!!”
I can’t provide any specific advice because I don’t know the dynamics. What I would say is that the right decision will probably involve some level of sacrifice. Good things seldom come to us without some of that. The sacrifice might be mustering up the courage, it might be having hard conversations with your son, or it might be something completely different. It’s easy to talk about such things, but very difficult to live them.
I would like to clarify the point of that quote about racism. Benefitting from racism does not in any way mean that you did not work hard to earn what you have, or that you came from financial privilege. All it means is this: in situations where it would be a disadvantage to not be white, you are spared that disadvantage if you ARE white. For example, no one will look at a white person and, based on their RACE ALONE, assume any of the following: this person is a thief, lazy, uneducated, unable to speak English, violent, poor, untrustworthy, or comes from a bad family. That is not to say that someone can’t be prejudiced based on other things, such as the clothes you choose to wear or the tattoos you choose to display, but it won’t be because of your race. That’s all it means. Every child SHOULD be entitled to have parents who understand that.
I’ve spent the past few days trying to come up with a good response. I hope this counts as such. Given that this is the assertion we hear over and over again, this type of response is fairly typical and goes about without being questioned. Why’s that? Because if the assertion is correct, questioning the assertion is, itself, racism.
What this assertion does is equivocate between Racism and judgment calls (sometimes legitimately, sometimes not). If members of a certain race tend to demonstrate certain attributes (good or bad) and a person makes a judgment call regarding an individual person’s attributes on account of some trend within a racial group, that is not racism, that is stereotyping. It is entirely possible that all the negative things you listed can be presumed about a person on the basis of race without racism being the cause of that presumption. I could go through the list but I’ll just choose the last one. I will presume that, in general, a family with only one parent is either bad (or less good) than a family with two parents. Is it racism to see a black person and hold that it’s likely that they come from a “bad” family? Not necessarily. It may come from the knowledge that 72% of black children do not have their father in the home and not having a father in the home is bad (save, of course, for abusive fathers). And, incidentally, fatherly absence can also be traced to untrustworthiness, poverty, violence, etc.
This modern, woke assertion equivocates between *tendencies incidental* to race and *traits inherent* to race. One may look at that and simply consider it word-parsing, but it’s important word parsing because what we say both conveys meaning and reveals the meaning that we hold within our minds. The word “racism” has a strong stigma in our culture. Mis-applying it, or equivocating, means that one has *unjustly* labeled something (or someone) a certain way.
I think that this is horribly destructive both to the person making the assertion and to the one to whom the assertion is being made. It builds a belief based upon a lie. How is someone supposed to heal from emotional/mental wounds if they’ve misidentified the source of the pain? It’s like going to the doctor and asking him to operate on your foot after someone cut your hand off. And it’s destructive to the one making the assertion because they are guilty of smearing the name of an innocent person. I have been confronted by people much closer to me than you making the same claims about how pervasive my benefits from racism have been. Each time I have asked for specific instances where I have personally benefitted, not some vague notion of “things could have been worse if you were a different race”; specific instances. I have yet to have one provided for me where I could actually validate the veracity of the claim of these pervasive benefits.
So, I suppose I have the same question for you: if you have specific knowledge of incidents in my life where I have benefitted from racism, I would love to know about it. If I am to acquiesce to a pronouncement of guilt I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for evidence. But it is extraordinarily hard to provide examples of such guilt unless, of course, there are blatant examples of racism. That is also what is so pernicious about this “racism is in everything” mentality. There is almost no way to defend innocence. In fact, the assertion of innocence is often (usually? always?) considered evidence of guilt. How vacuous is a position where an absence of evidence is irrelevant and presuming one’s innocence is a pronouncement of guilt?
One may claim this is walking around with blinders on my eyes. Maybe that’s the case. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The purpose of blinders is not to blind a horse so it can’t see, but to keep the horse’s focus on the road instead of the incidental and irrelevant stuff on the side. Why is that important? Because it helps them stay calm and focused. Horses can get easily panicked by those incidental things around them. And when a horse panics it flies about running into and destroying everything in its path.
… which kind of sounds like modernity to me…