Would you foster in our situation? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 23 Old 10-19-2012, 10:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I used to write here as we were researching whether we could adopt. We then became short term foster parents and had two wonderful placements, both young babies. Only weeks after a baby had moved in, I realized I was finally pregnant after years of secondary infertilility. Thus I am now on "mothernity leave" from fostering, at least until our baby turns 1.

 

We had waited until our older child turned 6 until we felt she was ready to be "big sister" to a foster babies, who would come and go. We agreed to take in babies younger than one. When our little one was born 3 months ago, I thought we would never foster again, or at least not for a long time, as I think a baby needs to get to be the only baby for quite some time. However, this baby, unlike our first, has been very easy-going, and I am now finding myself thinking that I would not mind having more to do. The money would not hurt, either, and to my great surprise I miss my identity as a strange sort of a working mama. (The placements are anything from a day to about half a year, and we know none of these kids will stay with us.)

 

If you were in my shoes, home with e.g. an 8 y.o.(home schooed)  and a 1,5 y.o., would you dare foster 2-5 year-olds, one at a time? I am pretty sure our baby will still be carried and nursed a lot at 18 months, even at 2, so I don't think I will be ready to foster an infant for quite some time. However, I am wondering if we would be ready then to take in a child who was no longer a baby (no more bottle feeding, etc.) but also not old enough for school yet. (I know that we could get a 4 y.o. still in diapers...)

 

I do realize that e.g. 4-year olds can be very different from each other, especially considering the circumstance from which they come, and I would receive very little information before each child's arrival. 

 

So, would you do it? Why? Why not? How old would you want your baby to be before fostering again?


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#2 of 23 Old 10-19-2012, 11:33 AM
 
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Knowing just the little bit you've said about your parenting style, if I were you and wanted to foster, I would lean toward young kiddos who could go to school during the day. A toddler, coming from a tough situation especially, can be extremely needy. What if you had a 2-3 year old placement who wanted held all the time and was pitching fits all day long? Would that be something you would be up for while homeschooling and caring for a 1-year-old? Maybe it is. If so, great! Take it on. If not, then it may be better to have a placement who would be gone a chunk of the day to go e you a break, time to homeschool, and care for the baby.

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#3 of 23 Old 10-19-2012, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the response!

 

Just to clarify, school aged kids are not possible for us, as we live in a different municipality than the one our foster kids come from, so we are too far for them to keep going to the same school. (Long story, but this is how it must be.) So, we can choose 0-5 or something like that.

 

We did just witness one of those really tough toddler placements. The kid (toddler, really) got very close to being sent to a facility due to behavioral issues. I could have dealt with this little one just fine, without a baby in the house. It is true, however, that the baby would really complicate things.


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#4 of 23 Old 10-19-2012, 12:03 PM
 
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I would, but saying that we have 5 at home, and homeschool. Babies nap during the day and we find we fall into a routine together. But that is us...


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#5 of 23 Old 10-19-2012, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, the home schooling part does not worry me at all... It is really the baby that I am wondering about.


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#6 of 23 Old 10-20-2012, 07:10 AM
 
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Personally, I would not do it unless the foster children were related to my family. We are waiting until our son turns 4 before we start fostering again, if we ever decide to foster again. I want to give as much undivided attention as I can and also I have non-mothering projects I want to do that I cannot do if I have more children to care for. When my son is 4 he will be old enough to go to full time preschool and then I will have the time available that I feel I need to give to foster/adoptive children.

 

But that's just my parenting style. It sounds like you want to do it. Plenty of people would be able to make that situation work. If you think you're one of those people then go for it!

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#7 of 23 Old 10-20-2012, 01:36 PM
 
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If I felt like my kids were okay and my lifestyle could handle a month or two of disruption at a time if a new child has a rough transition, I would do it as long as the children I take in are smaller and younger than my smallest.

 

FWIW, we started taking placements when my oldest was 3yo and he managed it okay with the coming and going of kids.  I think a large part of what helped was 1) my husband was available to help/handle my son if I couldn't; and 2) how we treated the situation and presented it to him.


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#8 of 23 Old 10-21-2012, 03:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, everyone!

 

To be honest, I just don't know, Part of the problem is that I do not want a child to move in ad then have to change families because of me or my kids. (Unless there are problems that would cause the child to be moved, no matter what.) When I foster, I don't leave the child with anyone else (not even my dd) unless I must, like for meetings the child may not attend. I guess my eagerness comes from the fact that I do not have other "projects," mothering is what I do and want to do. Yet, I would not try to conceive another baby until my own was "old enough," so having a child with different needs than those of our baby could maybe work.... Maybe.

 

I think I will talk to my worker some time next summer and see what she thinks. I doubt I would be ready to start then, yet, no matter what, as baby will be only 12 months, then. I think they could write in my file that I am not ready for "all that may come," that we will only take kids that are already known to need care for days or weeks, not many months. Yet, it is the beginning that is often the hardest, so I am not sure that would be a good idea, anyway.


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#9 of 23 Old 10-21-2012, 12:42 PM
 
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I completely feel you on needing something to do.  For whatever reason, I really just could NOT shift my brain to believe that I was "CEO of my household".  Loved my kids, loved my gift to be home, but really needed a significant challenge and while my oldest was seriously a formidable challenge (very special needs initially), once I had a handle on his situation--I needed something more.  It didn't need to be public or recognizable.  In fact, fostering wasn't anything that anyone valued or felt "good" about you doing (the misconceptions are astounding) but it provided what I needed in terms of having stuff on my plate.  It was win-win-win (placements-me-my kids) for the most.

 

When my adoptive daughter was placed, we couldn't take placements for 6mo and then something inhibited us for another few months after that (we suspected the return of a former placement).  But then we finally took a placement and my daughter seriously did NOT do well with it.  Thankfully it was a really short-term placement, but we haven't taken one since (that was 3 years ago and to be fair, we moved out of state about 9mo later).

 

The move kept me busy, relocation kept me busy and then I transitioned into running my coaching business (after having been the "go to" person for several years).  I'm wondering if you could tap one of your other talents or gifts into doing something that would feed that spot in your life...?  Do you write?  Maybe you could write articles?  Do you have a conviction for something where you could become somewhat of an activist about it?  Something having to do with parenting?  Maybe get involved with another organization that embodies some parental topic that you love--API, LLL, Holistic Moms?  They can always use leaders who are passionate about the subject matter!


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#10 of 23 Old 10-30-2012, 04:57 PM
 
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I'm wondering if respite for other families might be something to consider? I say that because the time is short term, KNOWN upfront, something so rare in foster care, they would have already put time and effort into working with those "coming into care" behaviors, the opportunity to have the same children over again is there, where it really isn't anywhere else in our line of work. And lastly, and yes, least of all, the reimbursement is the same as if you fostered full time (at least in Ohio. Wherever the child sleeps, is who gets the board).

One of the other major benefits of respite (as opposed to temporary emergency care, which it sounds like you may have done before), our whole family gets the chance to meet the children ahead of time and get to know them before they come to our house.

Just my thoughts... We got our license the day my 19 month old was born, and I can't see myself ever not fostering, but that's just me... I also have a couple of girls who like to come and help. I do pay them, but it's much easier on me knowing they're there to come help clean, give baths, etc.

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#11 of 23 Old 10-31-2012, 03:19 PM
 
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Respite didn't work like that where I lived--you didn't get to meet the kids beforehand and actually, sometimes you didn't even know until just a few days ahead of time.  Then, in the interest of not bouncing the kids around (or because they didn't tell us up front that the former foster family was at their wit's end), they often tried to keep the kids at the respite home ongoing instead of returning them.  So I would get in touch with a local foster parenting group to see how your particular area handles respite since obviously it varies by location.

 

Another thing to consider with respite is that by the time you guys know the incoming children's quirks and needs, they're leaving.

 

Maybe you could be a CASA worker?  In some states, they're lawyers, but in many states they're not.  I was trained to be a CASA advocate and the time commitment was very variable depending on how much free time you HAD--but could be as little as 5 hours/month.

 

Check here:  http://www.casaforchildren.org

 

It's also awesome for seeing how your areas system handles cases.  You get to know some of those kids really well and see the kinds of things going on behind the scenes.  It's an awesome way to be of help.


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#12 of 23 Old 11-01-2012, 09:21 AM
 
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I would be concerned about starting to foster while homeschooling and taking care of your young toddler. I would probably feel differently if you'd been fostering for a while. I like the idea of doing respite for another foster family that needs care for a few day or doing childcare respite for a foster family that needs temporary childcare because of illness or the regular program being closed.
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#13 of 23 Old 11-01-2012, 11:25 AM
 
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Respite didn't work like that where I lived--you didn't get to meet the kids beforehand and actually, sometimes you didn't even know until just a few days ahead of time.  Then, in the interest of not bouncing the kids around (or because they didn't tell us up front that the former foster family was at their wit's end), they often tried to keep the kids at the respite home ongoing instead of returning them.  So I would get in touch with a local foster parenting group to see how your particular area handles respite since obviously it varies by location.

 

Another thing to consider with respite is that by the time you guys know the incoming children's quirks and needs, they're leaving.

.

Yes, that's very different from what I'm talking about. The (County) agency here only gets involved when the foster family needs them to find a family to do respite for them. Then they give the family our contact info, and the rest is handled directly between the 2 foster families themselves. It's for a very specific time, known up front, with the date, time and location of the return agreed upon no later than when we pick them up. WHENEVER the agency is NOT involved, everything ALWAYS goes better. LOL!!!!


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#14 of 23 Old 11-05-2012, 09:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, everyone!

 

Homeschooling is not really a problem at all.

 

There is very little respite of any kind taking place where we live. If the foster parents get sick, too bad for them, it seems. I do know most of the families, so in that sense it could be a great idea, though I would have work very seldom. It could be a great way to see how a particular age group would work for us. We could survive a difficult weekend much better than a difficult placement.  


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#15 of 23 Old 11-09-2012, 12:00 AM
 
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Too bad that respite doesn't happen where you are, that would be perfect! When I used to foster, that's what I did during one of our "breaks" and to ease back into it. That was in AZ. The way it worked was that each foster family got a certain amount of "respite" days per year, I think it was 14 or so, don't remember the exact number. The kids go to another foster family, basically like babysitting. Usually it's used when you need to take a vacation w/out all the kids, for short term medical issues, etc. It's really great all the way around.

 

In your case, I don't see the harm in trying, and just being very selective about your placements. Don't be afraid to say "no". Perhaps start by taking some that they know will be short term to see how you handle it. I know with most of mine, the caseworkers could tell if they would be short or long term; they would at least have a general idea pretty quickly. Good luck!
 


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#16 of 23 Old 11-09-2012, 09:52 AM
 
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When i was a foster parent, i doubt i would have used respite through the agency if they had a formal program. (They didnt, although i suppose if you were totally stuck they might call around for you to see if their other families might have space.) I just couldnt imagine leaving my kids with people i didnt know...esp if they were younger. When my then foster (now adopted) son was four months old we were facing possibly having to cancel a planned trip to Toronto for a homeschooling conference because we werent sure if we'd have the required documentation to cross the border. The foster care worker said "well, we might be able to find you respite...." um...no i was not going to leave my four month old baby with strangers for several days so we could go on vacation. In the end all we needed was a letter from the agency (and in fact the border agent gave me less grief about the black baby with a different last name than my own older son...despite having a birth certificate that listed me as the only legal parent she kept quizzing him on where his father was, did he know he was leaving the country etc....really inappropriate IMO) I could possibly see leaving my daughter simply because she is older, makes friends easily, is adaptable, and could tell me if anything inappropriate was going on. I guess it would be different if i knew the family very well....but in that case, it would just be "leaving with friends who happen to be foster parents."

 

Not to say people *shouldnt* use respite, but i dont think it really would have worked for us.
 


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#17 of 23 Old 11-10-2012, 11:37 AM
 
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When i was a foster parent, i doubt i would have used respite through the agency if they had a formal program. (They didnt, although i suppose if you were totally stuck they might call around for you to see if their other families might have space.) I just couldnt imagine leaving my kids with people i didnt know...esp if they were younger. When my then foster (now adopted) son was four months old we were facing possibly having to cancel a planned trip to Toronto for a homeschooling conference because we werent sure if we'd have the required documentation to cross the border. The foster care worker said "well, we might be able to find you respite...." um...no i was not going to leave my four month old baby with strangers for several days so we could go on vacation. In the end all we needed was a letter from the agency (and in fact the border agent gave me less grief about the black baby with a different last name than my own older son...despite having a birth certificate that listed me as the only legal parent she kept quizzing him on where his father was, did he know he was leaving the country etc....really inappropriate IMO) I could possibly see leaving my daughter simply because she is older, makes friends easily, is adaptable, and could tell me if anything inappropriate was going on. I guess it would be different if i knew the family very well....but in that case, it would just be "leaving with friends who happen to be foster parents."

Not to say people *shouldnt* use respite, but i dont think it really would have worked for us.

 

I won't leave my kids in respite either. Not for anything. I simply can't bring myself to leave my already fractured kids with strangers while I go off and have a good time without them. I know other people are in different situations, and I'm not judging. I just can't do it myself. I will do respite for others, tho.

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#18 of 23 Old 11-12-2012, 01:52 AM
 
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I am currently fostering a child with special needs who has just turned three. He does two overnights  a month with a wonderful respite carer. This child has high needs and challenging behaviours. Without the respite I would not have been able to continue the placement. Respite only began six months ago. I resisted using it before then. Now I am glad he has respite. He loves it.

He is the only foster child that I have ever used respite for and he is number 36.
 

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#19 of 23 Old 11-12-2012, 03:00 PM
 
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I am currently fostering a child with special needs who has just turned three. He does two overnights  a month with a wonderful respite carer. This child has high needs and challenging behaviours. Without the respite I would not have been able to continue the placement. Respite only began six months ago. I resisted using it before then. Now I am glad he has respite. He loves it.
He is the only foster child that I have ever used respite for and he is number 36.

 

Exactly the "different situation" that I do not find myself in.

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#20 of 23 Old 11-14-2012, 03:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, again, everyone!

 

I just realized something: I am only really familiar with families doing short term care. However, if a long term foster family actually got respite, the situation would be too difficult for me to want to have anything to do with it. It is not granted easily. However, some of the short term families plan their vacations ahead of time, not knowing ahead of time whether they will have a child placed with them then or not. While, it is pretty sad, as these kids get moved enough as it is, if it has to happen, I don't mind being the one to take in the child.

 

While I was thinking of all this, someone asked me if I would take a baby or toddler in for a couple of weeks while the family is on vacation next summer. This is the perfect situation for me, as I will not need to know my answer much before they go. The social workers cannot know far in advance which families will be waiting for a placement during that time, so the decision where the child will go will be made very late. Thus I will be able to know what our baby is like at that time, would get plenty of information about the child coming for respite, etc. I am quite excited... that I might get the chance to see how it would work.... and that I can say no without doing any harm.


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#21 of 23 Old 11-17-2012, 05:52 AM
 
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I didn't technically "use respite" for my first foster child - we had 5-week vacation planned waaaay in advance of the placement and I was not allowed to take him out of state for that long, so I asked the workers to arrange another placement. But it ended up functioning as respite, because he came back into our house when we returned and stayed until he was placed with kin. I think it actually worked out well - although it would have been a heck of a lot better if they had just let me take him along. His mom was incarcerated, so no visitation to worry about. When my STBAS was placed with us, I was very aggressive right up front about how we were TAKING HIM WITH US ON VACATION and they complied (his mom was also incarcerated). So my advice for people now who are going on vacation is to be a squeaky wheel about how the child deserves not to be left behind and try hard to get authorization for the travel. 

 

For therapeutic-level kids, I think regular respite of some kind is a very good thing for everybody involved, provided that it's not a new provider every time. 

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#22 of 23 Old 11-17-2012, 08:27 AM
 
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with my agency, the parents have to agree to travel if its out of state, if they are getting visitation. If they were incarcerated the social worker would give permission. If the child misses visits, you would have to make them up, so the parent/child would then get extra visits each week. Luckily it wasnt an issue with my first (who wasnt having visits anyway) and with my second the parents were fine with it (i am not sure the sw really let them know they could make it an issue if they wanted)...even though it meant they couldnt spend D's second bday with him. I'd be bummed if we had to leave a child behind for a preplanned vacation just because someone wanted to be petty.
 


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#23 of 23 Old 11-20-2012, 04:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, indeed, wonderful if a child can go with.... But the sort of thing I am talking about is because short term foster parents want to be with just their family for a weekend or even a couple of weeks. A bit different. 


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