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Not Sure I Can (or Should) Do It

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Without going into the long version of the story, I have been a therapeutic foster parent before, and I am in the training to start again, after a 2 year break. I know pretty much what I am getting myself into. And I am having serious second thoughts.

 

The reason I felt ready to try again is that my life has reached a pretty calm, pleasant plateau. Bio-Dumplings are low-maintenance teens, my elderly Mom is well settled in a great facility only a few blocks away, and my job is flexible and supportive of this plan. Money wise, I am right on the edge, and the payment for high needs kids is enough to make the difference. No, of course I wouldn't do it just "for the money". But I definitely need to do something that will bring in a little income. Parenting high needs kids is what I do exceptionally well, and I know there are some kids out there for whom I could make a big difference. I feel it is only right that I share this ability once or twice more in my life. I have considered all the home-business/part-time job options, and this is the only one I can fully put my heart into.

 

But... Isn't there always a but?

 

I am tired when I get home from work in the evening. My supervisor has already OK'd cutting back my hours a bit if I want to. But that would give me more time for the child, not really more "me time". I love that I can now come home, take my shoes off, have a glass of wine, and really be off-duty in the evening. I would surely be giving that up. I would definitely have to cut back on some of my community projects - I serve on several citizen advisory councils in the field of children's mental health. I now have the freedom to go to the state capital for a couple days next week to attend a conference and speak to our legislators on the subject. That sort of trip would be out of the question with a child who could not be left home. Or possibly complex respite arrangements could be made, but I would not feel as confident to be out of town.

 

I really have no drama in my life today. Adding a teen girl (my preference) would certainly change that! The atmosphere in our home these days is generally calm and tranquil. I feel guilty disrupting that, for my kids as well as myself (although the bios are on board with this whole plan). I hesitate to go back to the "living in a fishbowl" feeling of constant scrutiny that comes with being a foster parent. I left the world of fostering on pretty bad terms, and anticipate a fairly humiliating experience of explaining that period of my life. If they will even certify me again - I think so, but it isn't a sure thing. And I have some raw wounds from the whole episode.

 

I am pretty sure all these hesitations will disappear when there is a real life child in my doorway. My family and I have lots of love and understanding to give to a child, as well as a safe, secure home to share. At the end of my life, I would be happier to say, "I tried", even if I fail, than to wonder what would have happened if I hadn't been so scared. The fear (read "terror") is real, but I think I have just talked myself back into continuing on the path to adding more children to my life.

 

Thanks for giving me the place to talk through these feelings. I would welcome comments and support from anyone with similar experience of hesitating before jumping off this particular cliff. Or a similar one...

post #2 of 7

I am in a similar situation. And yet I have a different answer for you than I do for myself! Mostly that is because I know DH would not agree with my plan..... LOL

 

In reading your post, and the great advice and experience you have shared with others here, I say go for it. It's the perfect way (IMO) for you to bridge the financial gap you have and to be able to help someone else in the best way you know. 

 

My situation is different in that I'm a SAHM who planned to go back to work when the youngest started school full time. Well, our only child is starting kindy in the fall, except that in a few weeks he will not be our only child, he will be big brother to a 1 year old. So now I have 4 more years to wait to go back to work, and our finances just weren't planned that way (we thought we'd only have a 1 or 2 year gap between our kids, not 4).

 

I have thought about continuing to foster and taking in babies since I'm home anyway with the 1 year old. DH will never go for it since the kids are finally sleeping through the night, etc. Our house is chaos and has not gotten pulled back together from our last placement yet, and there is no way he is going to agree. And I think in some ways he is right. My kids are small, they need my attention, one is special needs and the other may end up with some learning issues. I need my sleep. And yet... that few hundred dollars a month is enough to bridge our financial gap that we are having right now. And I love babies. And I love fostering.

 

But you're much more experienced than I am, there is a much greater need for your skills and experience, and you have older kids who "get it."

post #3 of 7

I think it is really hard once you are out to get back in.  My life is so easy right now.

 

I'm in the same situation as you.  2 kids that had been in our home are losing their foster home in a year and the idea was that we would take them back.  We have kept contact with them(as in had them over every weekend).  They had to leave our home for 2 fold. One we moved away for a year and two I didn't think we were being good enough parents due to not sleeping for several months.  We know they sleep a little bit better now.  I do find them challenging and a bit frustrating.  On the other hand the home they went to right after us wanted to drug them and called them psychotic - so not true.  I'm afraid for them to go elsewhere.

 

But we sleep so well now.  I am more calm.  Life is easier with 2 kids than 4.  It is a really hard choice.

 

I completely understand what you mean by off time.

 

Let us know what you decide.

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

Well... I am 1/2 way through the training, and still feeling unsettled about this decision. BigGirl, (bio-daughter, 18) and I spent all day yesterday "nesting". I had to move from one bedroom to another, and did a fair amount of of cleaning and decluttering in the process. It made me realize just how much this whole project will cost. I have basically no furniture that will do for a foster child. Need bed, dresser, desk, at the very least. Plus, I need a couch and lamp (minimum) for the living room. And to have all the carpets professionally cleaned. And curtains for the new kid's room. Carbon monoxide alarm, more smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers. Lock on at least one kitchen drawer. The list goes on.

 

And that isn't even counting the stuff I would like to replace for aesthetic reasons - towels with holes and stains, chipped and mismatched plates, the details that don't matter so much to the Dumplings and me, but feel important to give a kid a sense of pride, worthiness. With my former foster children, I found they were much more responsible when things were "nice" - matching sets of tableware, linens, whatever got treated with more respect, and the kids themselves seemed to take pride in having nice things. Definitely quality over quantity. I don't want to encourage materialism, but to a kid who might have never have had nice things, these details seem to support self-esteem. The lesson I hope to teach is, "I am worthy of this", not "I need this". When I had foster kids before, I lived in a wonderful, elegant farmhouse on 3 acres. Now I live in a tiny, 50's tract house in the 'burbs, and feel the need to maintain a higher standard of "class". Compensating, I guess.

 

Maybe I will get over this stage. Part of it is my own issues - I was really proud of the old house, and nearly ashamed of this one. I don't put a very high value on things or appearances, but I learned that for a kid who may come from extreme poverty and neglect, a nice environment helps set the stage for self esteem.

 

Again, I appreciate the place to think this out at MDC.

post #5 of 7

I'm in a similar boat, my ex and I did foster care for about three years, including "professional" level care. I stopped when it became clear that I wanted a divorce. Anyway, that was years ago, I'm happily remarried and dh and I have been talking about it. He is willing, I am in theory but have the same concerns you do. Also, I really want an "ours", and dh does not, fostering and foster to adopt he is happy to do, and I think that may cause some issues since I want a bio child with him, but am happy to foster after that. If I'm home with a baby, adding another kiddo or two is fine. DS2 was 2 when ex and I started fostering, and we always had a house full of kids. 

 

Now, ds1 is out of the house, ds2 is 11 and only here 1/2 time (50/50 split with ex). So...I have a calm, almost kid free house. To go from this...to...chaos...depends on my mood, lol. 

 

What I tell myself, and what I think you should do, is go ahead and get licensed, it doesn't hurt anything or cost much. We are free to say "no" to placements, and to be very choosy. We can ease into it by doing respite care at first. So many options. 

 

Don't even worry about buying new things!! In the future, sure, get some things you like but matching dishes aren't going to really matter..not worth the money and stress :)

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

You know, in the light of day, I know matching china doesn't matter one bit! I think it was a nesting moment - like wanting to have ALL THE BEST baby stuff when you are pregnant, then realizing it never was about the pink ribbons, pale blue blankies, or fanciest crib. When the baby is there, the baby is all that really matters. But preparing is half the fun!

 

I am going to go ahead with the certification process, and start with buying only the essential furniture. We do need a couch! I may repaint that bedroom anyway, because it needs it. That will use up some of the nesting energy, without committing myself. I suspect I will be having second (and third) thoughts for months to come.

post #7 of 7

As someone who has spent 13 years working in residential childcare . . . thank you for taking the time to go through the training and do this! Your sacrifice of your time, energy, peace & quiet . . . tranquility, etc. . . . is for the purpose of changing a LIFE!  Don't ever forget that!  Yes it will be hard work. Yes there will be times you will regret it.  Yes there will be times you are sure you aren't cut out for it.  But you are providing a haven of family for a child who needs one.  And every child should have that!  I know you already know that, but sometimes we have to be reminded.  Keep pressing forward!  

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