My Husband and I are Foster Parents. We have been for several years, such we are defined by the website http://www.thefreedictionary.com/foster-parent
Raising someone else's child or children is not for the faint of heart. The process of children in and out of the system is not a pretty one no matter what the situation maybe. I can say it teaches you very quickly to be humble. To learn that everything is not always what it seems. Dealing with many people over the years, I have listened, seen and read that truly someone's perception is a main factor of another one's reality. Therefore causing a highly stressed situation to be a mole hill that turns into a mountain. (Though not in all cases but some)
While being foster parents, we have learned to love more than ever. I say this wholeheartedly. It does not matter the length of stay, the love is there. Taking care of someone else child or children for that matter has been a true gift. To be entrusted to make sure that all is well at the end of every day until they are reunited with their parents or family is work, play, never-ending of this and that and definitely a daily learning process. As Foster Parents it is apparent as sometimes we need to be there just to listen even when words are not being spoken. Actions sometimes as we all know speak louder than words. For the time we have we can love, laugh, keep safe, cry with, engage and again really listen when there is those times when all hits the fan.
From the minute you sign on to become Foster Parents, life becomes an open book with the government. From extensive background checks, as we answered very personal questions between my husband and myself and our family. Thus having social workers in and out of our home monthly and sometimes weekly depending on the children in our home. Visits also can be announced or unannounced so really like I said, an Open Book! We are not protected party in the case except for a statement here and there that states "Confidential Address" but still sometimes our information is put on documentation by accident or shared with parties that it was not meant for. We get threats because we are the caregivers for children based on actions made by their parents/caregivers. We sometimes get stalkers, which has us having code words in our family because the cities overlap with the children families whereas at times we may come across family members. We have safety protocols in place on how we travel from visits, state offices as to are we being followed, take a different route, make a stop, making sure always to be on guard, etc. This all may seem over the top, but until anyone reading this, actually has been a Foster Parent and been in this situation....do not judge? All of this has happened.
Children in foster care whatever their back story maybe; we, as their caregivers, must remember this is not where they would like to be either. No matter how bad things may be in their environment. I can remember one of the children placed into our home, it did not matter how bad things were that little one still wanted to be with mom and why blame...it was Mom! The little knew no different. It was not for us to judge it was for us to be there to keep safe, love and listen while in our care. Being in many social groups for foster care or adoption I read many posts and some seem to forget that, our precious cargo that we agree to care for, love, keep safe on a temporary basis seem to forget that the goal is to hopefully reunify. Until the parents rights have been terminated they still have rights, we are Foster Parents, the caregiver, we have limited rights if no rights at all. Our rights are determined by Department of Social Services and the Judge that is presiding on the case. I get sometimes things are not what is in the best interest for the child or children but again what is the letter of the law. We are not attorneys. Someone posted in social media it best the other day something close to this....if you disagreed with how things were going with your foster child then basically stop fostering and become an advocate and start working within the community to help make changes within the system. We can complain all we want by speaking while not acting does nothing. Again actions speak louder than words. This lesson I have learned many times over.
I understand everyone has their reason from becoming Foster Parents. Our reason was to give back nothing more nothing less. This really has not changed over the years. We were already blessed with three beautiful children and with our life coming to a halt years earlier due to my accident, we made a decision to help. I can also say, we were the only couple in our training class that was there to just foster, everyone else wanted to adopt. Looking back now, I have to say there was another plan as now five adoption later which was really never in cards it just happened that way. My mom always would say, there is reason a baby, toddler, child was placed with us and a reason for their stay. Upon leaving no matter how we felt, our home was able to care for another child. This is the bittersweet process of Foster Care. You do get attached. If someone says they do not then they are crazy. I can still name every single child that has been in our home. There is a piece of them in our hearts. Each and every one has been reunified, placed with family or adopted. I will be forever grateful for this process, I have been become a different person than when we first started this process. I learn something new everyday, I see things through the eyes of my children and for the system currently it is what it is, good and bad. We foster to give back and help children in need. The Department of Social Services is what oversees our home as currently changes are being made within the system; it is another learning curve of the system that we will endure and until then...We Are Foster Parents
“Humility is not a one time lesson that comes when you have lost everything. It is a daily reminder of how far we have come, yet still short of who we can be through HIS guidance. Blessed is the soul that can recognize that he isn’t moving mountains, but God is for him.” Shannon L. Alder
Until Next Time...Make It A Great Day!
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