We just began our journey of fostering. We actually had our 1st meeting with our caseworker at our house yesterday. She was impressed that our house was ready, as well as having our paperwork (even our dogs' immunization records) ready to go. She says the next step will be the actual home study done through a private agency.
However, there was nothing in any of the paperwork about choosing what we would or would not accept as far as age, sex, or race. I have no problems with any sex or race (I'm Caucasian and my husband is Hispanic; we have 2 teen girls and a nearly 12 year old boy). The kicker is that I am really hoping for a newborn to 2 years old, with possibly up to 4 years. I mentioned that to her, and she said not to get hopes set on a baby. Several times during the meeting, she mentioned teenagers. I don't want to come off as a bad person for only wanting to help those younger than 4. When she left, I really felt bad and let down. I KNOW we have the final say for placement, and my husband says to drop it until we get certified. Is this okay to do? Not worry about the age until we are finalized?
I'm a RN, who currently stays home. I used to work with newborns and moms. I worked as an IBCLC for 7 years (board certified lactation consultant). My husband is a Paramedic. We both adore caring for kids/babies, and even those with medical issues do not scare us in the least bit. I understand that there may be a wait to match our age preferences. We don't have a time limit; we can wait. I just think that if we turn down whatever they offer us, we will be blacklisted (or whatever you call that) and they won't call again.
Another question I have is, do foster kids stay within their county? We live very close to another county, we are darn near on the border. We have one city as our mailing address; another city as the school district, and we have another city for fire, police, etc. The city for fire, police, etc is in the next county. That county has been in the newspapers recently for needing foster parents and especially for those who are willing to take in newborns. I'm just curious if we could take a child from another county.
I'm trying hard not to feel down, but I really felt like my caseworker popped my bubble!
I'm not an expert, by any means, but I wanted to reply! We have just become licensed foster parents in Missouri, so my information only applies to what we've been through and in our state. When we had our first home visit, we were given a stack of paperwork which included 10 pages of a family history questionnaire as well as 4 pages of check boxes of what we will and will not accept. We were asked for what age/gender/race and then a myriad of behaviors/disabilities/diseases to consider. I don't know why your caseworker said what she did, but maybe it was just to make sure you understood that the younger children are harder to come by. I also found it hard to say "We will only take...." as if you are rejecting half the children that may come into care. It was really hard to check those boxes, but we knew we had to make the decisions that were best for our family and the children we already have in our home. We were told that we will only get called for kids who fall into the criteria we've specified, so there won't be any worry of being "black listed."
My guess would be that she kept mentioning teenagers because it is a great need in your area and maybe she just wanted to plant a seed for you to consider it... strongly.
I can't answer your question about the county, but i would be interested to know too! Best of luck with your journey!
I'm also surprised that your caseworker emphasized teenagers. We are licensed foster parents. Our agency was just thrilled to get us, and we got no pressure ever to take any certain types of kids. We have said no to some, yes to others. I don't feel we've ever been looked down upon for saying no. It takes all kinds of people to take in all kinds of kids.
Our parameters were exactly the same as yours — children ages 4 and younger only. When we were first licensed, our youngest child was 5 so we wanted only children younger than her for her safety. Not only did our caseworker not mind, she thought it was a good idea. We also specified we were hoping to adopt a child as young as possible, newborn if possible. We got a call to take in our newborn (soon to be our forever son) before our actual license even came in the mail!
It's funny. When we were going through our training, there were a number of people who specifically didn't want the younger kids because they didn't want to deal with diapers. (We're obviously not talking about attachment parenting people here.) Everytime I heard that I thought good! I'll take the little ones then!
Your husband's thoughts sound wise, to wait until you're farther along in the process and make your needs known when they are ready to hear them. They might want you to just be starting to think about it right now and not asking you to make any final decisions yet.
I do know that I don't feel like I could handle fostered teenagers right now. My bio kids are still little so I've never cared for any teens. Maybe the fact that you've raised teens/preteens makes them think you might be interested.
1 me + 1 hubby + 4 kids + 5 goats + 3 pigs + 3 dozen chickens + 6 ducks = 1 crazy place
Thank you for responding! I feel better. I guess my feelings are normal. We really have to stick with what will work with our family at the time. That's not to say that in the future that we won't take older kids.
My kids are barely teens, lol, they are 14, 13 and nearly 12.I think adding another teen to the mix at this time might put me over the edge! In all honesty, I still feel like a teen at times although I just hit 35 a month ago.
It's strange how the paperwork differs from state to state. The only paperwork she left was a 1 page medical history for myself and husband, 2 forms to get physicals from our doctor, 1 page for doctor to sign saying my kids are current on shots and communicable disease free, and a 2 page financial form. Maybe we will get more paperwork when the private agency does the home study.
I'm not even going to think about the age thing until we get through the application process and training.
We didn't have a lot of paperwork either. In the beginning, I would get calls for kids outside my preferred age range. They don't have a lot of homes that want to foster older kids (for various reasons) and call just to check. It's never been an issue. And it's wise not to foster children who are older, or stronger, than the youngest child in your home so you aren't off base. Of course, there are exceptions to that "rule" but it's a good one to follow, especially when you don't have a lot of information about a child.
As to whether you'd be placed with a child outside your county, I'd say that varies by location and how things are done there (agency vs social services.) Here, most kids are placed through the county department of social services. We wouldn't get a call for a child outside our county unless that county was desperate to find a placement for a child. We have foster parents who live in a neighboring county but not kids from the surrounding counties. Another exception to that would be a sibling of a child placed in your home or a sibling of a child you've adopted.
I think all workers want to find families who will take teenagers, and she probably saw that since you HAVE teens, you're experienced and it would be a natural fit.
That being said, it is not necessarily a good idea to throw another teen in with your group.
If you want a baby or toddler, just stick with that. It won't get you blacklisted. Age is a perfectly legitimate boundary to have. Lots of people want to foster babies, but at the same time a lot of people also work and may not be set up to take a child that would need full time daycare (and a newborn usually can't go to daycare anyway until four or six weeks old)...so there is often a need for homes for the young ones as well. It just depends where you live.
Where i live, you wouldnt have contact w/ the county AND a private agency...everything would be handled by the private agency. When they come out they will likely bring a stack of forms to fill out with questions about how you'd handle discipline, your history,your homelife etc. Again, just depends on where you live.
I agree with the other posters. Just be firm in what you want and make sure you can say "no". Do not worry about being blacklisted. Even if that were a possibility (which it probably isn't) you have to think: which is worse? Parenting a child you're not emotionally prepared to parent and whom you'll likely resent and all of the related problems that come from that.. or getting blacklisted and having to find a different agency/route to adoptive parenting? Really? Which is worse for you? which is worse for the child? Stick to your guns and only accept the placements you feel ready to accept.