What defines "Emotional Stability"? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 01-21-2010, 01:50 AM - Thread Starter
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My husband and I have been looking at foster parenting in our province, but I am a little concerned about one of the requirements.

Who are Foster Parents?

Foster parents are people like you; they come from all walks of life and all parts of society. You must care about children and want to work with others to meet children's needs. All members of your family must share your interest in fostering. You must be:

* at least 18 years old
* free of any major illness or trauma during the past year
* emotionally, physically and financially stable

I have always struggled from depression and anxiety, but I consider myself now to be fairly stable. However, I still sometimes get panic attacks. Compared to what I was I feel very stable. Before I could barely leave the house if I even had the energy to, and my depression pretty much sapped all that energy anyways.

However, I now can hold down a full-time job, go to school and maintain an excellent GPA, the works. I still fit all the criteria for depression (dysthymia) and anxiety, but unless some kind of miracle happens I will probably always have those issues. I am sure my doctor would clear me, but how would a social worker view this? What really defines "emotional stability"? I mean, I have known people who had no mental health issues but didn't have very good coping skills, which I would think would be more of an issue.
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#2 of 5 Old 01-21-2010, 01:57 PM
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Are you medicated for it or compliant with your medication? That shouldn't be an issue. The issue would be if you are constantly yelling at people or children, unable to communicate effectively becasue you let your emotions get the best of you, or have a history of legal trouble because of acting out. Typically if you actually do suffer from a mental illness or whatnot, it doesn't affect foster care unless you are not compliant in your treatment for it and run the risk of putting the children in harm.
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#3 of 5 Old 01-21-2010, 02:29 PM
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Though I would say that it might be wise to make sure that your triggers aren't going to be constantly poked at by the nature of foster care which is:

*you do not have control of the environment or the decisions or the timelines
*you may be dealing with traumatized children
*you may be dealing with traumatized adults (including, unfortunately, some social workers)
*you may have to keep up with more appointments with very long frustrating wait times, which requires travel into strange situations and places. Not in all places though, sometimes it's the SW's job to take your FKs to appointments and visits.

I think with a doctor's clearance, it won't be an issue on paper. But it might be wise to make sure that you have the supports in place and some firm boundaries so that you are not cajoled or tempted to take on more than is healthy for you. Even people who do *not* suffer from organic depression or anxiety can frankly be driven to it by some of the things you might see and/or experience. But there are ways to mitigate that and reduce the risk.

I agree that someone with no clinical mental health issues but no coping skills is more of a liability than someone with a clinical history but excellent support systems and skills. But I think that probably an on the ball social worker is going to want to see not just coping skills for present issues but the ability to potentially take on much more than what they have to handle now. If that is you, then I think you'll be fine unless you get a discriminatory SW who won't even entertain the thought (always a risk no matter what category you're in--whether it's your age, race, disability, ect--there's probably always someone somewhere eager to tell you it can't be done.).

Have you called and asked what the specific criteria and asked in general terms about your situation? We can guess and stuff all day long, but eventually you'll have to ask somebody *there*. IMO, better to do it now. Ask them what evidence they will need (letter from doctor/therapist, or whatever) so that you can start collecting it now.
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#4 of 5 Old 01-21-2010, 11:20 PM
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It's not only about your mental health..ie: depression, if said depression is treated, how "deep" this depression is. etc..
You have to be emotionally stable to face adoption in general. Not only a baby comes along with adoption, a lot of changes come as well. They want to make you sure you're "stable" to handle the adoption process itself, parent a child who biologically isn't yours, and that you can be there 100% for your adoptive child.

Kwim? HTH a little. Good luck.

Mom to the best 4 little men ever! chicken3.gif
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#5 of 5 Old 01-26-2010, 04:44 AM - Thread Starter
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I am going to phone them and see what they say. I am not on any medication (my problems were considered "treatment resistant") nor do I get any therapy (went through a fairly intense therapy experience, which has pretty much scarred me for life), and I know all this makes me sound like a horrible candidate, but it really sounds worse then it is in real life.

We don't plan on adopting, just fostering, not that that makes any different in terms of emotional stability, but I thought I should clarify anyways.

Thanks for your answers!
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