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New here with some questions about fostering  

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 

Hi all.

 

First off...let me just say...I am new to the "fostering and adoptive" board. I have read the guidelines but please let me extend my apologies if I don't word things in the right way. I have no intentions of offending anyone and I do welcome correction if need be just please be gentle:)

 

My dh and I want to become foster parents. Given that my hubby is adopted we feel we have some experience in the area that would be helpful. We both have a very good understanding of the loss that goes hand in hand with adoption and fostering.

 

I have a few concerns that maybe you all could help with. We have a DS that is going to be six next month and we were wondering about how this would affect him. Emotionally and physically. Even though we have thought about doing this for years we have only started telling our family and friends this past month. They all seem to think this has "come out of left field" and can't understand why we would want to do this. They have also been very forthcoming with EVERY horror story they have heard about foster children. Many of them very sterotypical stories. We feel very judged. Like we are not thinking about our son.

 

Have any of you experienced this?

 

I know I need to be realistic. There WILL be problems. The simple fact that the kids are in foster care will be something that will need support.

 

I guess I am looking for a bit of support. 

 

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

 

Brandee

post #2 of 51

Subbing because I am also thinking about this, and we have a 5 year old too. :)

post #3 of 51

 

I a have a 6, 4 and 20-month-old, and we in the process of foster-adopt. One member of our family has actually suggested that our girls will be raped by our new son. (In his defense, he works in a building with a couple of therapeutic foster agencies, and those ladies are clearly violating confidentiality and telling their juiciest horror stories on their freaking coffee breaks.)

 

What works for us is to leave the why-we-want-to-do-it conversation to our six y.o. and four y.o. They've been thinking about this for over a year now, and will recite chapter and verse on the benefits of growing a family through adoption. Since everybody seems to realize that the fear-porn stories can't be used on the kids, it kind of serves to defuse the situation. As your DS learns more about fostering, you may find that you have a tiny evangelist on your hands. Get him some books! 

 

Among adults, we redirect to the technical aspects of the process (the different agencies, the homestudy, therapies, schooling choices etc.) and let them put their energy in that direction. It makes no sense, of course, to be planning out how you're going to therapize a child you've not met yet - but it's better than building up a picture in your mind of your future grandson as a rapist. eyesroll.gif

 

post #4 of 51
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the response. I must say, I have been to quite a few foster message boards in the last few days and I am a bit horrified. Not because I heard horror stories but the lack of compassion and hostility towards birth parents, particularily mothers, is astounding and so very sad. I am so greatful for this board:)

post #5 of 51

I'm a member of a big foster parent board (as are some other MDC members) and I think it's important to read the bad stuff. There is lots of negative things about fostering and if you just read the sugarcoated stuff, or a small sample of balanced stuff, you can get a false sense of what the reality can be. And when you are taking about serious neglect and abuse, sometimes it's hard to speak nicely about the perpetrators. We can't talk about this stuff with people who know the children so sometimes it's nice to anonymously vent to others who are in similar situations. People tend to vent online more than they talk about the positive stuff. But, I want to hear both types of stories.I've adopted two of my foster kids. I've got a pretty good relationship with my DS's birth mother and grandmother. Right now, I can't have any contact with my daughter's birth family. They are too damaged right now. I wish them the best, though. But if my children were permanently damaged by their birth parents, I'd be mad too. I know what you're saying, though. As a newbie, I was pretty turned off when I read other discussion boards.But, I take what I can use and discard the rest. I think there's a benefit in hearing all sides.

 

OP, the common wisdom is to foster children who are younger than the children already in your home. That's for everyone's protection. There are exceptions but most foster children have seen, and experienced more than your bio children. And they may harm your children. There are some good books for children about foster care. You'll find a list in the resource sticky for this board.

 

I haven't had children come and go since my DS came home (other than some day/weekend respite which is totally different.)  We knew that my DD was likely to stay pretty early in the case. She never had visits so it really was like she wasn't a foster child.  Heatherdeg had a really great post a few weeks ago about how her bio son has reacted to fostering.

post #6 of 51

NONE of my problems with being a foster parent have stemmed from the children.

 

ALL of my issues with the foster care system are a result of the case workers, judges, and other adults involved. Even when they try their hardest to be honest and straightforward, they are CONSTANTLY telling us things that are misleading or outright false. It's like playing telephone with twenty 3rd graders. None intend to lie, but the truth doesn't get from A to B. It gets messed up along the way.

 

That said, the experience has enriched my life and if I had it to do over I probably would.

post #7 of 51

That hasn't been my experience at all. I've worked with wonderful social workers, GALs, and judges. But, I've heard that quite a bit from my foster parent friends and people on foster parenting boards.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by marsupial-mom View Post

NONE of my problems with being a foster parent have stemmed from the children.

 

ALL of my issues with the foster care system are a result of the case workers, judges, and other adults involved. Even when they try their hardest to be honest and straightforward, they are CONSTANTLY telling us things that are misleading or outright false. It's like playing telephone with twenty 3rd graders. None intend to lie, but the truth doesn't get from A to B. It gets messed up along the way.

 

That said, the experience has enriched my life and if I had it to do over I probably would.

post #8 of 51

I think the best you can do is to calmly explain your reasons to the people who are close to you and whose opinions matter. If someone isn't close to you or is just an aquaintance, you can just say something like, "Thanks for your concerns. We've talked to our social workers about these issues, and we're continuing to explore options..." or something equally vague. You don't owe people an explanation for how you grow your family, just as you don't owe people an answer about your personal fertility suggestions.

 

Your kid will likely be fine. We adopted our son through foster care and my bio kids love him like crazy. Yes, there was pain involved, and losing a foster child is miserable for your biokids sometimes. But all the research I've ever been shown shows that kids whose parents fostered grow up more compassionate, kind, empathetic, and selfless than others. Your son may have to deal with difficulties, but if you are keeping open lines of communication and explaining to him that the kids are only there temporarily, it helps to lessen it. 

post #9 of 51

I just wanted to say hi Brandee. :)  welcome (officially) to the world of adoption! hope you're well!

post #10 of 51

I think, just like ANY parenting choice, everyone will have their own opinion.  Someone will think you are out right wrong for fostering, some will agree with you all the way.  But the people who really love you and your family will stick by you whether they agree with your decisions or not.  They will get used to the idea and will probably be more supportive than you think.

I believe fostering or adopting are a calling that some people just will not understand.  Likewise, if you feel that calling you won't understand why some people don't want you to do it.  It takes a very special person/couple to be foster/adopt parents and the world needs them, so do what you feel is your calling and the rest will fall into place!  Good luck!

post #11 of 51

I think, as well, that it's important to listen to the "horror stories". Because, honestly, if you do fostercare, you will (not *may*, WILL) have your own. A foster child raping your kid? Not likely. But your foster son that you've had for a year getting sent back to birthparents who you've been talking with, been friendly to, the whole time, and then have the birthmom send the kid to the hospital a year later? Very likely. Or at the very least, you'll have a child with you for 3 years (which is illegal) and the parents' rights won't be terminated, again and again, and the poor kid will eventually be sent to live with an aunt she's never met.

Or you'll have a foster baby whose mother really needs parenting support, education, proper drug treatment...and she will get none of it, regardless of how you try to help her. And the caseworker will be suspicious of you (because foster parents just want to steal babies away from their parents, don'tchaknow?), the whole time. And the mother will either get the baby back, with no support, or she won't. Either way, it's a big FAIL.

 

Even if you've glossed over what I just wrote, please read this:

It is very easy for abuse allegations to be called in about YOU and your family. Babies and kids get hurt, you have a child, you know this. But if a caseworker or a therapist or a birthparent sees a bruise, things can spiral out of control. And lawyers and judges aren't part of the process...if someone hotlines you, you're under suspicion. You will be questioned, you can have your fostering license taken away, you will have your foster kids yanked and moved, and it's very possible that you might have your own child pulled from your home. Even for a day, that would be horrendous. And for the foster kids, it's another nail in their attachment coffin. You can't say that this won't happen to you. It might. You have to be willing to take this risk. That's what fostering is about.

 

Your friends who discourage you may have misperceptions about what fostering is, and you can educate them if you'd like, but after fostering for 2 years and watching many friends foster, I always try to discourage people from fostering. If you're childless, and you want to risk your heart breaking more than you ever thought possible, then go ahead. But if you have children, I think it's a truly bad idea to risk their hearts and security.

post #12 of 51

 

... and this is the kind of fear porn I often get treated to whenever I talk about my plans to grow our family through foster/adoption. 

 

post #13 of 51

I'm sure BTDT foster parents who have had traumatic experiences are equally thrilled by having their experiences dismissed by people who haven't been there, too.

post #14 of 51

 

I don't dismiss the experiences of people who had traumatic C-sections after failure to progress, but it doesn't mean I'm asking to hear their horror story when I tell them that I'm pregnant. And that's lot more common outcome in the family-building process than ZOMG THEY WILL RIP YOUR BABIES FROM YOUR ARMS YOUR WHOLE FAMILY WILL BE IN HELL I TELL ALL PEOPLE NOT TO FOSTER.

 

Seriously, how much cred would we be expected to give to a a person who "always tried to discourage people" from getting pregnant, you know, bad stuff can happen?

post #15 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by karin95 View Post

I think, as well, that it's important to listen to the "horror stories". Because, honestly, if you do fostercare, you will (not *may*, WILL) have your own. A foster child raping your kid? Not likely. But your foster son that you've had for a year getting sent back to birthparents who you've been talking with, been friendly to, the whole time, and then have the birthmom send the kid to the hospital a year later? Very likely. Or at the very least, you'll have a child with you for 3 years (which is illegal) and the parents' rights won't be terminated, again and again, and the poor kid will eventually be sent to live with an aunt she's never met.

Or you'll have a foster baby whose mother really needs parenting support, education, proper drug treatment...and she will get none of it, regardless of how you try to help her. And the caseworker will be suspicious of you (because foster parents just want to steal babies away from their parents, don'tchaknow?), the whole time. And the mother will either get the baby back, with no support, or she won't. Either way, it's a big FAIL.

 

Even if you've glossed over what I just wrote, please read this:

It is very easy for abuse allegations to be called in about YOU and your family. Babies and kids get hurt, you have a child, you know this. But if a caseworker or a therapist or a birthparent sees a bruise, things can spiral out of control. And lawyers and judges aren't part of the process...if someone hotlines you, you're under suspicion. You will be questioned, you can have your fostering license taken away, you will have your foster kids yanked and moved, and it's very possible that you might have your own child pulled from your home. Even for a day, that would be horrendous. And for the foster kids, it's another nail in their attachment coffin. You can't say that this won't happen to you. It might. You have to be willing to take this risk. That's what fostering is about.

 

Your friends who discourage you may have misperceptions about what fostering is



yeahthat.gif


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerchild View Post

I'm sure BTDT foster parents who have had traumatic experiences are equally thrilled by having their experiences dismissed by people who haven't been there, too.


 

And  yeahthat.gif... thank you.  Sorry, but if you're on a message board about c-sections and asking questions about it, then you should expect to hear the horror stories to better prepare you to avoid them.  If everyone made decisions based on the rose-colored glasses versions of everything, we'd be in sad shape--because life is obviously not rose-colored.

 

OP: I think cdmommie nailed it:  like every other decision we make in life, people will have something to say about it.  By the same token, you will know that you will not be able to turn to these people for support when you need it (and you will need a shoulder to cry on once in a while).  Sad, but reality.  You will likely also be looked at sideways by people who make all kinds of false assumptions about why you are fostering.  :/


Edited by heatherdeg - 2/16/11 at 4:00pm
post #16 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

 

I don't dismiss the experiences of people who had traumatic C-sections after failure to progress, but it doesn't mean I'm asking to hear their horror story when I tell them that I'm pregnant. And that's lot more common outcome in the family-building process than ZOMG THEY WILL RIP YOUR BABIES FROM YOUR ARMS YOUR WHOLE FAMILY WILL BE IN HELL I TELL ALL PEOPLE NOT TO FOSTER.

 

Seriously, how much cred would we be expected to give to a a person who "always tried to discourage people" from getting pregnant, you know, bad stuff can happen?

 

And this is the kind of comparison that just DOES NOT WORK. Pregnancy usually ends happily. C-sections, even, usually end with all parties happy and healthy. It's rude and mean to fearmonger. It's kind and loving to try and keep someone from hurting themselves and others. You can dismiss me, that's your choice. And maybe you'll foster and have no negative experiences. That doens't mean it's a good idea. The system is broken far more than you can possibly imagine. The system hurts children, hurts families, daily. Will you have beautiful, wonderful children in your care who you will care for and enjoy and help - yes, definitely. I know dozens of families who have done so. And *each and every one of those families* have been hurt emotionally, financially. I've been on many fostering boards and the statistics really show that discouraging is the most ethical way to go. If people know the realities, and go ahead with it, that's fine.

 

I sure am the last person to tell someone to not do something "because bad stuff can happen". But, if someone told me they were going to go bungee jumping, I'd say "you go, girl!" because I know it's relatively safe and there will be people there helping them learn the ropes stay safe. If someone told me , "I'm going to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge at night with dental floss tied around my leg", I'd do everything in my power to stop them. I suspect you'd do the same. Would you keep your mouth shut because your friend was really psyched about her plan and was complaining that nobody was supporting her?

 

If you're saying (Smithie & OP) that you've talked to a lot of foster parents (current and former) in your county, and you've heard the whole spectrum of stories, and you know some of the ways that your county workers, the judges, the CASA workers, etc., are great and some of the ways that they suck, and you're truly willing to risk the worst story being yours, your child's, your family's, and you still really feel like this is something you want to do, then go right ahead. And, yes, I'm serious. Do it with your eyes open. Tell your friends, Yeah, I know the system sucks and it will be super-hard, but our family has decided this is our calling. (or whatever.) But, really, don't expect them to tell you that jumping in with your dental floss and your eyes closed is a great, fuzzy, cute idea.

post #17 of 51

 

I'm sorry if my response was too harsh. I do believe that your intentions are good - although I think it would be a truly awful thing if people stopped fostering, or stopped adopting through the foster care system. 

 

 

 

post #18 of 51

I wish I had read more "horror stories."  I went into to foster to adopt with rose colored glasses.  Though nothing really could have prepared me, I wish I had my eyes open a little bit more.

post #19 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

 

Seriously, how much cred would we be expected to give to a a person who "always tried to discourage people" from getting pregnant, you know, bad stuff can happen?



Seriously, if they'd just been through a late term loss, a baby born still, a husband who'd seen his wife literally drop dead before him from an amniotic fluid embolism--I'd give them a hell of a lot more credit than the person who says "Oh la!  That would NEVER happen to me!!  That kind of bad stuff only happens to other people, how dare you imply that anything could go wrong with pregnancy/birth, you drama queen."

post #20 of 51
No, you wouldn't. But you'll never have the chance to find out, because never ever ever will you encounter a person who has reacted to their tragic pregnancy outcome by discouraging the human community at large from having babies.

But as the PP has pointed out, it's not a great analogy, because tragic pregnancy outcomes are rarer than really tough fostering outcomes. I don't say "tragic" - few things are tragic on the scale of dead mamas or dead babies - but tough. It makes sense to tell people that the road is not an easy one.

Biokids being yanked out of the home because of abuse allegations? THAT'S fear porn. It's possible the way that losing a baby or dying in childbirth is possible.
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