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#31 of 51 Old 02-16-2011, 09:16 PM
 
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To the OP, for what it is worth, I'll just say that my dw and I have fostered for an extended period, and as a whole, it was a really good experience.  In fact, we loved it so much that we still identify as "foster parents" even though we aren't maintaining an active license and are taking an extended (many years) break after the adoption of our dd a couple years ago (has it really been that long?).  We're taking a break largely so we can focus on the needs of the two we have adopted, including some special needs.  Fostering is super intensive.  We feel like if we did it right now, we'd spread ourselves too thin and serve no one.  We've talked about having another child at this point (and have generally decided to wait on that for another few years since dd and ds ended up being much more closely spaced than we would have planned), but when we talk about *fostering,* it is always contained to the longer-term future...especially from my dw's viewpoint. Yet we'll get back to it when our kids are older, even if it means we wait until they are teens or young adults. 

 

I know other foster parents IRL who also have adopted or biological children, and I can't imagine their families any other way.  It's just that dw and I started fostering just one kid at a time, and we were *great* at it, so our standards are now pretty high.  And yeah, because we've cared for some kids who were dealing with boundary and behavioral issues, I admit that thinking of our dd and ds makes me less likely to foster right now because the issues can be really tough to manage in terms of foster-siblings.  Also, dd's case was a really wild ride, and the whole time we kept worrying about ds.  I feel like they need to be at an age where they can make a cogent commitment with us as a family to the experience before we do it again. 

 

I guess what I am trying to do is present my story, which I think is pretty balanced.  I really resonate with what someone else wrote about how the kids are never really the problem with fostering (for me personally) even when their are behavioral issues, etc. that have to be managed.  The only things that ever made fostering nightmarish for my dw and I (at times) was the adults involved in the kids care, whether it be incompetant social workers or, well, that's been most of it, with the exception of some bad professionals at the schools...even with judges we've had pretty good luck/experiences. 

 

Will I do it again?  In a heartbeat.  Just not at this time.  But that doesn't mean I would discourage another parent with kids already in the home to foster.  In fact, I've always tried to present a realistic but generally encouraging outlook to folks I know IRL who are interested in doing it and ask me about my experiences.

 

I do have to say, since you've mentioned family concerns, that shortly after we first started fostering, my BIL, SIL, and their three kids, who were our only family in the area we lived at that time, withdrew from our lives after meeting dfs once for a period of a few minutes (actually, it was just SIL and the kids who met him).  They just sized him up and decided he was sure to be trouble, partly due to a transgender identity.  There was nothing we could say to change their minds, and nothing we could do (even complete safety plans for pretty much all contigencies) that would satisfy them.  It was incredibly painful to be abandoned like that in the exact hour when we could have most used support, and it led to a huge blow out fight followed by a period of a couple of years of them not talking to us and avoiding all contact with us.  We missed our nieces and nephew dearly during that time, and it was hard not to be able to watch them grow up during those early years of their lives.  We've since moved from the area, and I can't help but think of the time wasted.  But sometimes folks have prejudices about fostering that logic can't overcome, and that's what we encountered.  It was better that our foster kids didn't have to experience that.

 

A few things that we found really, really helpful for us having a good experience with fostering:

1.  We found a niche.  For a while, we did therapeutic fostering of one older child at a time in a small private agency.  By focusing on just one child at a time, we were able to be at our absolute best as parents (poor dd and ds, who came later).  By doing therapeutic care we were able to draw on our unique gifts in relating to kids and helping them heal.  By fostering older kids we were able to sort of specialize in things like IEPs and all that jazz that can come along with a kid from 8-18 years old.  By working with a small agency we were able to establish ourselves in the "niche" where we were best able to serve at the time.

2.  Later, when we switched over to doing just respite and very short-term care as well as a foster-adopt program for kids 0-8, which we did directly through our state, it helped to be really clear with our limits and what we felt able to handle at that time.  Sure, there were times they called us and we had to say no because we felt the situation was too much at that particular moment for us, and every time I was always half-sure they'd never call us again...but they always did, and eventually it led us to dd and ds.

3.  We worked hard to build up a strong support network, and especially to stay really active in our fostering community.  I served on two different foster parent boards over the years, and our family showed up to as many of the special events for foster families that we could manage.  We made an effort to get to know the staff of social workers, and whenever we met another foster parent who was willing to exchange numbers and emails, we always did this.  This was critical to keep from feeling isolated when the fostering road was rough. 

4.  We kept really good documentation and we kept in frequent communication with the offices with which we worked.

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#32 of 51 Old 02-17-2011, 05:53 AM
 
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Oh, OP...I've read what I wrote again and I think it sounds really negative...I just wanted to pop back on and say that, while our family has had a lot of really trying times and frustration at dealing with the foster care system and some tragic and stressful things happen with kids...I can also think of a thousand times I had fun, felt a deeper sense of happiness at sharing something, because I was sharing it with a kid who came from such a terrible place, etc, and I DO feel like growing up knowing how many kids have bad starts in life has helped me as an adult to be more compassionate and understand that everyone is coming from a different place in life and that it could be a really different place than me. As much as looking back over the years, we relive some truly sad and trying experiences...while we were IN those years, we were having fun, too, and forging bonds with some amazing kids/SWs/etc.

 

My Great Grandfather was adopted...and was truly thankful to his adopted family. He was a very successful and GOOD man and he really thought he owed that to the fact that he was adopted by a family who really believed in him and loved him. So I think thats why, through the generations that followed, so many of us adopted kids, fostered kids, etc...but I also think that we've (collectively) had more negative experiences to draw on when we think about fostering....because our family has done so much of it, for so long, and taken kids with such high needs...we've run into more situations that weren't great.

 

So, anyway, I didn't want to seem like I was trying to scare you. I was more reacting to some feeling like you were being encouraged to ignore peoples personal experiences, but I see that's not what you're trying to do.

 

For every one foster (kid, worker, judge, biofamily, etc) we came to know who left a really big negative mark on our memories, there a bunch of really positive, rewarding experiences we wouldn't trade for anything.


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#33 of 51 Old 02-17-2011, 11:30 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

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.

 

Okay, I have no idea what the stats are on biokids being placed due to allegations, but it IS a risk, and everyone needs to assess their own willingness to take risks. Some people don't get pregnant because they have a higher chance of having complications (diabetes, heart problems, family history). I've heard of some people choosing to adopt because the idea of the pain of pregnancy scares them so much that they know they don't want to do it. Everyone's different and everyone deserves to hear the risks. There are a lot of things (pregnancy, etc.) that you can find info on very easily in books, online, etc. The risks of fostercare? Nobody has collected that data, nobody is disseminating it. It's up to the community of fosterparents to educate - imo.

 

Also, while getting your kids placed is rare, abuse allegations are VERY COMMON. Seriously. I live in a county that has a medium city in it, but it's still not a big county...and about 75% of the foster parents I know have had allegations. And even if your biokids are safe, these allegations can have severe consequences. If you're found "guilty", you get put on the Child Abuse Registry and you will never get off. You will never be able to adopt a child, much less foster again. You will never be able to get a job working with children. Personally, that would have ruined my life. I have an adopted child and am about to become an occupational therapist.

 

As a PP said, it's important for people to go into foster care with their eyes open. Just as anti-smoking campaigns don't cause everyone to stop smoking, neither do I think telling as many people as I can the realities of foster care is going to stop everyone from fostering. And, really, if there are fewer people fostering, they might end up being the really great foster parents and can help their county figure out good ways to recruit and keep other good foster parents. Or maybe, just maybe, we can have the beginning of the change that it would take to truly change the systems. But, sigh, that's a revolution that's taken the back burner for a long, long time and I'm not likely to see it to completion in my lifetime.
 

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#34 of 51 Old 02-17-2011, 11:55 AM
 
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"Just as anti-smoking campaigns don't cause everyone to stop smoking, neither do I think telling as many people as I can the realities of foster care is going to stop everyone from fostering."

 

This makes sense only if fostering is, in your mind, the social equivalent of smoking. 

 

Maybe you won't see substantive change in the foster system in your lifetime, but you WILL see many thousands of children find permanent homes via foster care. While you're free to campaign against that, I'm free to point out that your approach is less than constructive. 

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#35 of 51 Old 02-18-2011, 11:44 AM
 
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i don't think that when people tell their horror stories in fostering they are trying to keep people from fostering, but instead to

#1 weed out those who should not be doing it..it is not a job/calling for the faint of heart...

 

and #2 to prepare those who are strong enough. 

 

i guarantee you will have your hard hard stuff to go through, especially if you foster more than once or longer than say a year. i have plenty of stories... but would i do it over again? yes...but i am often called crazy by friends and family for it!

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#36 of 51 Old 02-18-2011, 01:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

"Just as anti-smoking campaigns don't cause everyone to stop smoking, neither do I think telling as many people as I can the realities of foster care is going to stop everyone from fostering."

 

This makes sense only if fostering is, in your mind, the social equivalent of smoking. 

 

Maybe you won't see substantive change in the foster system in your lifetime, but you WILL see many thousands of children find permanent homes via foster care. While you're free to campaign against that, I'm free to point out that your approach is less than constructive. 


No, I wasn't saying fostering is the same as smoking. I was saying that smoking is more cut-and-dry a bad thing to do, and most people agree on that, and still people choose to do it. Fostering will never reach that level (nor should it), so there's no way that all foster parents telling their truth is going to kill fostering as we know it. Of course all children should ahve permanent families. And if the system worked better to actually help biofamilies and foster kids and foster families, then more kids would have that, sooner. That's not happening and kids are paying the biggest price for that.

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#37 of 51 Old 02-19-2011, 05:57 AM
 
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"...there's no way that all foster parents telling their truth is going to kill fostering as we know it." 

 

Of course not. I'm all for people telling their truth. What I'm reacting to here is the crossing over into telling MY truth. The poster above who dealt with the burned-down house, who is not planning to ever foster herself, managed to convey all of that without turning didactic. If what you care about is providing maximum information to potential foster families, then I am suggesting you change your approach. 

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#38 of 51 Old 02-19-2011, 01:06 PM
 
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But Smithie, you dont have a "truth" yet. Its easy to be positive and "pro" something when you havent actually done it.

 

Maybe if you were more specific in YOUR approach, it would be easier for people to swallow. For example, you are "a big proponent of out-of-birth-order adoption!!" ...what steps will you take to help ensure or maximize the possibility of a positive outcome/protecting the children already in your home? Your kids tout the benefits of foster care adoption to all they meet...how have you prepared them to deal with a child who may be suffering from the effects of trauma/loss/abuse/grief? What types of challenges are you willing to accept, and what is on your "not for us" list? And what is your action plan for dealing with the situation if you are placed with a child who turns out to have the very issues you didnt think you could deal with? (One piece of advice i got from an experienced adoptive parent was pick the top three things you absolutely could not deal with in an adopted child, and then figure out what you'd do to deal with those exact same issues, because chances are good you'll need to do that.) What type of information does your agency provide you about a child you are considering for adoption? What about foster care?

 

Smithie i know youve made statements in the past about how you want no contact whatsoever with biofamily, want to maintain total privacy....but now you say you will consider fostering first instead of just straight adopt....how will you maintain privacy then? My agency has FP and BPs sign in on the same sheet...once you have someone's name you can pretty much find out anything about them. And usually FPs give a phone number to the BPs so they can call their child outside of visitation (if appropriate)...obviously there are prepay cell phones, but its an issue to consider. Has this changed your view on being anonymous? Just curious.

 

 


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#39 of 51 Old 02-20-2011, 09:02 AM
 
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"But Smithie, you dont have a "truth" yet."

 

eyesroll.gif

 

... and my perspective on how I wanted to give birth was worthless before I gave birth, and my perspective on how to raise a child were worthless before I was raising one, etc. etc. Do you see why this is offensive? I'm all for learning from other people's experiences, but a blanket of statement of "I don't think anybody else should do this, because it didn't work out well for me" is going to get a response along the lines of "well, as I'm not you, I don't know why you'd want me to do the same things you'd do if you were me." Seriously. I'm not snarking. I truly do not understand how a negative experience for Person A would translate into an action plan for Persons B, C and D - especially with something like family-building, where the only constant is that nothing is constant. 

 

Just as an example... in my state, the social worker picks up a child for visitation, brings them to a neutral locale, and returns them to the foster family after visitation.. Assuming there's even visitation - we have a glut of pre-TPR foster kids who are post-visitation for a year or more (which is not to say that they won't ultimately be yanked out of the foster home and RUed or given to kin anyhow, the paucity of visitation is a major weakness in our system IMHO, even though it has its uses in maintaining the boundaries between FPs and BPs). Obviously it's very much different in your state. So while it's useful for me to know how it works for you, that particular issue is not relevant to my family's situation. I WANT to hear how it works for you. I get very frustrated, though, to hear an emphatic "Oh, you can't/shouldn't hope for X, because I wound up with Y." Unless I'm talking to my future self, it's a false parallel. 

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#40 of 51 Old 02-20-2011, 12:01 PM
 
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... and my perspective on how I wanted to give birth was worthless before I gave birth, and my perspective on how to raise a child were worthless before I was raising one, etc. etc. Do you see why this is offensive?

 

As offensive as dismissing every negative experience posted here as "fear porn"? (and thats not even using the term correctly, which is annoying. Movies like Saw are called "fear porn"...has nothing to do with foster parents sharing negative experiences as a cautionary tale for other parents. geez.)

 

Frankly, i WOULD find it annoying if a not-yet-mom told me something along the lines of "Well MY baby is going to sleep through the night at six months, and i will never EVER use plastic, and my child would NEVER hit another child cuz i will have a nonviolent home!" or some such thing. Obviously, experience is the best teacher. Usually moms like that, when they actually HAVE kids, eat a little humble pie. I try not to judge new moms too harshly (yknow, the kind that post how their MIL gave a plastic MIC rattle to their baby and she's considering cutting off contact from this dangerous dangerous woman) because i used to be at that point on my parenting journey too.

 

As far as i can tell ONE person in this thread said she actively discourages people from foster parenting, and she isnt even a FP. You seem to be focusing on that.

 

 

Quote:
I truly do not understand how a negative experience for Person A would translate into an action plan for Persons B, C
 and D - especially with something like family-building, where the only constant is that nothing is constant.

 

You seem to be saying you dont find value in learning from others' experiences because they arent you or arent in your exact situation. What you may find interesting is how SIMILAR foster/adoption situations can be. Without the support of my online adoption friends, without being able to vent to those who truly get it, im not sure where i'd be. These kids arent so different from one another as you might think. Indeed, my daughter displays quite classic issues that are present in many many older foster kids.

 

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the idea that someone's perspective on birth or parenting, who has not yet done those things, should carry the same weight as someone who has birthed and raised several kids......if i was going to climb a mountain, i wouldnt go to a msg board full of people who have actually DONE that, discount their experiences, and tell them well MY experience is unique and 100 percent mine, and it will turn out just fine. Its just kind of a weird thing to do.

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#41 of 51 Old 02-20-2011, 12:30 PM
 
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Queenjane:

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As far as i can tell ONE person in this thread said she actively discourages people from foster parenting, and she isnt even a FP. You seem to be focusing on that.


Assuming you're talking about me, I just wanted to clarify that I was a foster parent previously. I had 8 foster babies. I had my own problems with the system, and I met many other foster parents who had major problems, as well. Never met a foster child I didn't love, though. :) I tell people true stories from my own experience and the combined experiences of the many other FPs I know. I tell people what fostering is like in my county, based on those experiences, in addition to the information I've gotten from case workers, homefinders, etc. in the county. Yes, i actively discourage people in my county from fostering. And I sincerely hope that people in other places really find out what it's like in their area before they jump in. If it was only my experience that sucked, that's certainly not a good sample set. Unfortunately, I have pretty good data. And, really, our intentions when we started fostering were so good. We thought we were ready. We knew it would be "hard" and that we'd have our hearts broken, but we were "ready". We wanted to do what we could to help the kids get permanency, whether with us or with biofamily.  We also had never parented and had ideas of how we would do that, too! We thought our first foster son was "hard", and now we laugh at ourselves (he was probably the easiest baby ever...). Similarly, we laugh at how naive we were about fostering.

 

Also, we've had good friends who lived through our experiences with us, go right ahead and start fostering (in a different county). They know what they're up against, and still are constantly surprised and hurt by the system. They don't yet regret doing it, but they definitely understand how impossible it is to be fully prepared, and how extremely hurt you can get. There's no easy answer, so I continue to tell people my truth. Because nobody I know who has been a foster parent or become a foster parent after me has EVER told me that what I'm saying is inappropriate or unnecessary. In fact, they've all told me the opposite.

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#42 of 51 Old 02-20-2011, 02:56 PM
 
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"As offensive as dismissing every negative experience posted here as "fear porn"?"

 

I think you are misunderstanding me. I had one specific problem with one specific poster, not a general problem with the entire thread. You seem to think that I object to hearing about bad experiences with the foster system, or fail to internalize such information, when what I ACTUALLY object to is the rhetoric of "nobody-should-do-that." Particularly when applied to something that damn well needs doing and isn't being done nearly enough. 

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#43 of 51 Old 02-20-2011, 02:58 PM
 
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"Yes, i actively discourage people in my county from fostering."

 

To me, this is a lot more reasonable stance.

 

Sorry to make you the topic of the thread, Karin. It isn't personal. Rainbow.gif

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#44 of 51 Old 02-20-2011, 03:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by tiffani View Post

It's fairly important to mention that the OP is in Canada, where the rules and processes are different than in the US.  It's not all sunshine and roses up here either, but it's not quite as ...unpredictable as in the US.  Brandee, I can't remember where you live -- I know it's "away from me", but what province are you in again? have you talked to foster families in your area, or been to any information sessions or seminars or anything? Talking to other families in your province is the best first step. The system in Canada has it's faults for sure, but you only know what those faults are by hearing it straight from other foster families in your province/region. Listening to horror stories from the US is not going to do you much good. Social programs in Canada are much better, so while some of the horror stories are comparable, of course, anything about "the system" and even the level of abuse and neglect (typically) are different.

 

I hope there are Canadian foster parents who can jump in here and offer their perspective.  I have really close friends who foster here in BC, and it is a rollercoaster ride for sure -- every foster or adoption situation is -- but they have a LOT of support (they foster through VACFSS rather than the ministry, if that means anything to you) and it is working well for their whole family.



Hi Tiffani!

 

I'm in Vancouver but DH and I are looking to relocate to the Island. Thanks for the advice. I realized after the fact I was reading a lot of stories that did in fact happen in the US. I have found some great support in Canada and the system is REALLY different here. You are required to go through a training program and they do a pretty extensive home study. It is at that time your social worker learns about your family. All children in the home are interviewed. There are very strict requirements about sleep arrangments (all children must have their own rooms). There are also amazing support systems in place so foster parents don't get burned out. I have met quite a few foster families since I posted this, as well as their kids, and yes there are some scary stories but for the most part, foster parents here seem to have a lot faith in the system and how it works. DH and I are not intending to adopt unless the situation creates itself and it is right for our family. We both are going into this with idea that it's best for the kids to be with their birth families if it can happen and is a safe and healthy environment. DH's cousins who came to the family through the foster care system grew to have their own set of troubles and his one cousin lost her own child to the foster care system. She had a good heart but made some very bad choices. I guess that's one of the reasons I feel we would be good candidates to be a foster family. My heart breaks for the parents that lose their children as well. We never know what has happened in others lives that has lead them to make the decisions they do and while I would NEVER condone the abuse of a child, I believe with the proper support some people can change and everyone deserves the opportunity to do so without judgment.

 

I am not naive. I know there will be problems.

 

I am also a person who believes a positive situation begins with a positive attitude.

 

.....but maybe I just have my "glasses" onwinky.gif

 

 



 
 

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#45 of 51 Old 02-21-2011, 12:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Assuming you're talking about me, I just wanted to clarify that I was a foster parent previously. I had 8 foster babies.

 

Sorry, i got you confused with AverysMomma, i think she was the one that said her family fostered growing up but she feels she couldnt do it.


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#46 of 51 Old 02-24-2011, 05:17 PM
 
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I don't dismiss the experiences of people who had traumatic C-sections after failure to progress, but it doesn't mean I'masking 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?

Nope, you don't have a truth yet. You have great hopes, and wonderful intentions, and I wish you the best and I hope it works out as you are hoping. But you don't have a truth, because you don't have experience. 

 

I think the above poster was right- the rates of negative outcomes or very painful situations is not akin to the rate of necesary c/s or of stillbirth or miscarriage, even. Almost anyone who's fostered for any significant amount of time will tell you that it's very hard and has very frustrating and even infuriating parts. I think almost all foster parents live with some fear of allegations, because they are very common.

 

I also want to warn you (while still encouraging you to explore foster care) that they will tell you almost anything while you are getting certified, and it doesn't mean much. This can be because of outright lying or just dumb caseworkers or confusion or whatever. I have heard so many friends be told stuff like "there are tons of kid available for straight adoption who are post visitation" (BTW, this doesn't exist. if a parent hasn't been TPRed, they can always get visitation back) or "there are tons of kids under 3 available" or whatever, and then it all changes. I know most of us have gotten the runaround while getting certified, and then it all changes. We were told we could give our preference for placements, but most of our calls were for kids way outside those limits. I know of many FPs getting placements who were worlds away from what they were promised (ie, they bring a 9 year old girl instead of a 4 year old boy, or they bring twin 5 year olds with RAD and CP instead of one healthy 6 year old).

 

Again, I am not discouraging you at all. In all, our experience as FPs was rewarding and good, and we've been blessed with an amazing adoptive son from it. But you need to go in assuming everything they say is BS. I think your assumptions of anonymity are completely off base. It's easy for the parents to find out your info, generally. You go to court together, you sign in sometimes, or your social workers will tell them. If the kid is over a certain age, they will tell. Really, I know they may say otherwise, but don't go into it assuming that. 


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#47 of 51 Old 02-25-2011, 01:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank-you all for your responses.

 

Given that I am the OP I would like to close the conversation now as I feel it has gotten unproductive.

 

Again, thank-you for your kind responses.

 

In love and blessings:)



 
 

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#48 of 51 Old 02-25-2011, 05:05 PM
 
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 Quote:

 If a person fosters long enough they will almost certainly eventually have some sort of allegations leveled against them. 

 

We are in the process of taking the foster parenting classes now and this is one of the things that the social workers talk about during the class, people calling in the foster parents. It could be a daycare worker, but more likely the bio parents.


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#49 of 51 Old 02-26-2011, 05:34 AM
 
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I heard the same thing in my training, and from IRL FPs - I haven't met any personally who've been accused, but I've met people who know people who've been accused. Accusations are a reality (and a great reason to strive to maintain anonymity IMO). Actually having your biokids removed from your house is something to freak out about the same way you'd freak out about a scary-but-very-rare medical complication. Sure, think about it, but the fear of it probably shouldn't run your life unless you also refrain from driving because you might crash the car and kill the kids. 

 

I do think that foster-parents-in-training get fed a lot of distorted information, here and everywhere else. I've been very surprised to find out some of the directions in which it is distorted. 

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#50 of 51 Old 02-26-2011, 11:04 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post
 Accusations are a reality (and a great reason to strive to maintain anonymity IMO).


Can you explain what you mean? Anonymity will do little to protect you from a bio parent making allegations, if thats what you mean. All they need is the child's name, DHS knows where the child lives. Also, IME the allegations are just as likely to come from the agency or a worker. I've had to deal with this twice, and its a PIA.


Katherine, single homeschooling mom to Boy Genius (17) geek.gif  Thing One (6) and Thing Two (6) fencing.gif and one outgoing Girl (12) bikenew.gif and hoping for more through foster care and adoption homebirth.jpgadoptionheart-1.gif 
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#51 of 51 Old 02-27-2011, 05:41 AM
 
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I am going to start a new thread out of respect for the OP.

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