May is Foster Care Awareness Month and I’ve been a complete slacker. I thought I would answer some of the most common questions we’ve gotten to show some of the inside stuff. Not like it’s all super secret or anything, but I definitely thought of foster parents as fantastic superhuman creatures until I became one and met lots of us. Spoiler alert: still just regular people!
What is the hardest part? The hardest part for us has been communication issues between the social workers/department and us. Little guy has had visits cancelled last minute, been stuck on the school bus for an hour to find out he has no school, and many more. Baby E has had four different social workers in 8 months. The second hardest part is knowing there are SO, SO many kids out there whom we can’t help. I see them at the shelter (where I work a few times a month) and in my email every single day. Third is definitely the pain and sadness of our Little guy. It’s so much for him to wrap his little head around and we can’t fix it. I guess there is more than one hard part.
Do you hate the bio parents? Surprisingly, this question has been asked a lot. Short answer: No. We have times of great frustration with what we know of the bio parents and their choices. Obviously, we are on the other side of things so we see the pain in their child as a result of those choices. Honestly though, most of the time, we just feel sorry for them. Many of us take for granted our support systems and we don’t realize so many people don’t have them. I can’t say where I would be after losing Blake without the support system that I have. I find empathy is a much better way to try to approach people. I am also a human who gets really pissed off at parents hurting their kids.
Do you love them? We love Baby E. As we’ve shared before, she has no bio family involvement and hasn’t since she was born. I am her mother, Jeff is her father and she is our daughter (we are not legally her parents, yet). My love for Little guy is not the same as that but I do love him. It’s taken a while to get there with him as he came to us not wanting to be loved.
Are you adopting them? Baby E’s case is unique and we are moving towards adoption with her. That was not our plan before meeting her and I can’t wait to tell you all more about that when I’m allowed to. We are not adopting Little guy. One of the things I struggle with the most as a foster parent is the assumption that all children in foster care are going to be adopted. He has family (lots beyond his parents) who love him and want him. Reunification with safe and stable biological family is always the goal. Adoption comes along when reunification is no longer possible. We are hopeful that Little guy will reunify with someone in his family as some point.
How do you do it without your heart breaking? We have not had a placement leave so my answer may different in the future. For right now my answer is this, knowing there are children who need homes and are forced to live in a group home or a hotel is more heart breaking to me. The thought of losing foster children that I love is difficult, no doubt, but for me that isn’t a reason not to love them while I can.
There are more questions but this would be the world’s longest post. I hope to keep sharing about foster care so please keep asking!