Would you be a foster parent? - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
Old 02-03-2002, 12:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
crowbaby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Pittsburgh
Posts: 138
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Wow, this is a real debate inside me. On the one hand I myself was placed in foster care for a time and was parented by the most wonderful family imaginable. They were kind, had many children. They treated us all like their own. I want to "pay that forward".

On the other hand, what if they placed a violent child with us. My dd is only 15 months old.

I really want to help these children, but I am also afraid for dd. I think if we do become foster parents it wouldn't be until our own were much older.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this issue, or experience as foster parents?

I feel that something like abortion is terrible for the mothers as well as the babies involved. However, how can we ask someone to not have an abortion until more of us are willing to care for unwanted children?

It is such a fundemental debate that I don't know if there are any answers, but I do want to hear what you guys have to say on this.

Karen
crowbaby is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 02-03-2002, 08:14 PM
 
Mommiska's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 5,434
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My parents have been foster carers...and they've ended up adopting two little boys! My parents first took in foster kids when my youngest sister was 14-15 and the rest of us were out of the house (well, one of my brothers was still around, but he was 20 and just didn't want to give up free room and board ).

My parents did have a couple of older children, but that was very difficult. Both of them were 'with it' enough to threaten to accuse my parents of abuse, etc. With one of them, it was so bad that my mom used to have different friends come over and sit with her (and the foster child) all afternoon - from when he got home from school to when dad got home at night.

My parents have also had babies - that's what mom really loved. But she definitely had minor depressive episodes when the babies went to adoptive families.

And my parents are now in their 50s/60s with two young boys (9 and 6) whom they've adopted. Nothing like starting over again!

Fostering is a lot of work and can be stressfull, but the system definitely needs people to be willing to do it. I think I would be willing, but dh works from home, of the most part, and I think he dreads the idea of more children at home to interrupt him/etc. Maybe when we are older...

Good luck with whatever you decide.
Carolyn
Mommiska is offline  
Old 02-03-2002, 11:48 PM
 
pina la nina's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 898
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I don't really have anything to add, but want to say what a great question this is and I'm glad you asked. I loved Carolyn's story about her parents! I have wondered this about us, too. I think that what Carolyn's folks did by waiting until their birth kids were older was important, not just for their safety but also to give them a chance to be the "center" of attention. I imagine sharing the stage with your siblings is not quite the same as sharing it with an unrelated troubled child. Though actually my parents did often take in troubled teens when I was young (my dad is a pastor and sometimes they would come to him instead of running away.) and I did love having them there, but maybe we were lucky, or maybe my folks knew the kids somewhat. They also had little expectation of them to join the family exactly.

I think this is a question I'll revisit once my own is/are more self sufficient. Though I also wonder about hosting a Fresh Air Fund kid - that sounds neat. Maybe thats a way to help a child and let my dd get to know kids from other walks of life without the same level of commitment as fostering. Any thoughts about that?
pina la nina is offline  
Old 02-04-2002, 03:48 PM
 
Linda in Arizona's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Posts: 619
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
We've talked about fostering and/or adopting a hard to place child when our own kids are much older, but we wouldn't right now. It is all I can do to be a good mom to my own young children! I used to volunteer with abused and neglected preschoolers, and as much as I have a heart for these kids, I'm not going to add that kind of chaos into my kids' lives.

It isn't the healthy newborns that have trouble finding homes, it is older kids who have troubled pasts. Generally, newborns who are available for adoption are in forster care for very short periods of time. There are families who foster only these kinds of kids, which would be fun (though a little odd with baby bottle and pacifers and such).

What is the Fresh Air Fund?
Linda in Arizona is offline  
Old 02-04-2002, 05:44 PM
 
Irishmommy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: In the bat cave with heartmama
Posts: 45,457
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Our family has been fostering since dd1 was 3 (4 years ago). It has been up and down, but in general, the kids are the least of the problems. We find that a bad/incompetent/uncaring social worker can (and has) destroyed our placements and meant that kids have had to be moved (in Ontario the concensus is that the social worker is more important in the child's life than the foster parent - bulls@#@!!). Of all the kids we have had (from newborn to age 17), we have only had 3 we were really glad to see go - one had phsych problems beyond our expertise and the other two were just out of control brats! Birth parents can be awful - often, once their kid is in care they seem to think they are the perfect parents and we are incompetent and must be told what to do!

However, with reasonable birth parents and a decent worker (and most of them are), it is a very rewarding "career". Dd1 has seen and heard more than we would have chosen, but she has become a very caring compassionate kid. Her only demand now is to be the oldest. She wasn't for a while, but it's now a big deal to her. As long as we respect that, she's fine.

While it is great to raise your own child properly, and seem them blossom, it is wonderful to see the positive changes in a child that has been abused or neglected. Letting go isn't necessarily a problem either, if the child goes to a better environment than the one they left.

Hope this helps!
Irishmommy is offline  
Old 02-04-2002, 08:37 PM
 
madison's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 763
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I would love to foster older kids, but as I'm just starting my family right now, I don't see it happening. Once mine are out of the house (in 20+ years!) I can see myself raising many older children. I have a heart for teens, and I know the system is really not geared towards meeting their needs, just "getting them to 18 and out". Someday!
madison is offline  
Old 02-05-2002, 04:16 PM
 
N2theWoods's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Alameda, CA
Posts: 369
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I haven't started my family yet, but am planning to have just 1 child myself. It may sound silly, but I do worry about population explosion but I just can't bear not to have my own dd or ds at least ONCE!

Have thought a lot about fostering. I don't think I would have ever thought of it, except I was doing a musical play several years ago and one of the lead dancers was this amazing teenager who made you re-think every nasty think you'd ever heard about teenagers -- She was confident, she was kind, she was fun, she was Centered. We went to get a Jamba Juice between our matinee and evening show and I asked her how many siblings she had. Imagine my shock when she scrunched up her face quizzicly, thinking, and then announced "I'm not positive -- probably around 80." She then proceeded to explain that all her life her parents had foster children. "There are always kids in our house, and about every year we host a big reunion for them so they can all meet each other and we get to find out what they're up to. We keep in touch with most of them. Right now we have a little 6 year old African American girl. She's so sweet and we just adore her - - but we're having a heck of a time figuring out what to do with her hair!" and then she laughed gaily. And I thought, wow -- what a great experience for this teenager to see so much caring in her own family and what a legacy that family has give both their own child and all those kids.
N2theWoods is offline  
Old 03-14-2002, 04:44 PM
 
gwinna's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: st. paul, mn
Posts: 52
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
We have been thinking recently about becoming foster parents. When I was young, we had a number of foster kids in our family. My parents took in several kids, ranging from newborn through 16 or so. DH and I have been exploring the idea fostering babies, younger than our 16 month old son. I don't really feel prepared to take in anybody older right now, but maybe sometime down the road.

We're thinking about starting out with respite care, which is very short term care, providing relief care to birth parents and foster parents. Anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. We thought this would be a way to see how foster care would work in our family.

Has anybody out there had any experience with taking in very young children with a toddler of your own? I would be interested in hearing about your experiences.
gwinna is offline  
Old 03-14-2002, 08:25 PM
 
sleepies's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: illinois
Posts: 2,293
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
i can't.

#1. im too weak emotionally, i would get attached and not want to let go. i couldn't stand to give a child back to a horrible family.

#2. i am a little afraid that the child might do something to hurt my baby. i have heard that sometimes foster children act out in violent manners....which is so sad. they need someone to teach them....but i am too afraid when it comes to my little baby.

I think that foster parentng is FANTASTIC
maybe one day i'll be more strong and more flexible.

it is sad.
sleepies is offline  
Old 03-15-2002, 12:34 AM
 
jasnjakesmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 1,323
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
This is a good thread, I don't know how I missed it!
In answer to the original question, YES. In a heartbeat. You all have raised valid points about how the birth children would feel. I think it would be dificult to adjust but that would not necessarily stop me from doing it.
I have always wanted to be a foster parent. I think it's a really important job. I think my kids would be better for learning how to share their lives with those less fortunate. Of course I would be concerned with having to take in a violent child. But it's something I would really like to learn more about.
jasnjakesmama is offline  
Old 03-17-2002, 06:01 PM
 
serenetabbie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Somewhere with my hands in the dirt
Posts: 4,696
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Crowbaby~
Wow...i was in foster care too for a while. I feel the same way..."pay it forward" sort of feeling. I think I will wait until my children are older (they are 4 and 1) perhaps in school if I choose to send them...These kids in the system, even if they aren't acting out, need a little more attention. Do you think? I would Love to take in foster children and I plan to do so, but like I said, when my own are a little older, maybe in their teens.

Good luck with you decision!
~Laura

The Tabbie Family; DH , DS , DD , a few :, a couple : and me.
serenetabbie is offline  
Old 03-18-2002, 02:14 AM
 
yogamama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 975
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Hi ladies -

Two of my coworkers have or have had foster kids and have had difficult experiences. This is what I have learned from them if I were to ever decide to take in a foster child:

I would wait until my kids are older and make sure that the foster kids are at least a few years younger. My coworkers have had problems with foster kids too close in age to their own children and real strong competive stuff has come up that has been difficult for everyone. Also I was recently talking to a friend who is seriously considering adoption and she mentioned that a good rule of thumb is to always maintain the "birth order", so that adoptive children (and I would also say foster kids) are younger than kids already at home. That made sense to me.

Personally I love the idea of taking in a foster child or two (especially siblings who are hard to place together) after my kids are grown and out of the house. That seems great, but that is a long time away in our family... My dh and I have actually talked about it and I could see us doing it someday, but he doesn't see it. I don't know.
yogamama is offline  
Old 03-18-2002, 03:09 AM
 
Forest Sage's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 394
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally posted by Margo
She was confident, she was kind, she was fun, she was Centered. We went to get a Jamba Juice between our matinee and evening show and I asked her how many siblings she had. Imagine my shock when she scrunched up her face quizzicly, thinking, and then announced "I'm not positive -- probably around 80." She then proceeded to explain that all her life her parents had foster children. "There are always kids in our house, and about every year we host a big reunion for them so they can all meet each other and we get to find out what they're up to. We keep in touch with most of them. Right now we have a little 6 year old African American girl. She's so sweet and we just adore her - - but we're having a heck of a time figuring out what to do with her hair!" and then she laughed gaily. And I thought, wow -- what a great experience for this teenager to see so much caring in her own family and what a legacy that family has give both their own child and all those kids.
This is a truly gorgeous sentiment, Margo.
Yes, I intend on having foster children sometime.
In fact, my dream is to someday open a shelter/support network for adolescent girls who need help. This would include life strategy planning, healthy home learning, and a community networking initiative that is dedicated to helping 'wayward' and at-risk girls in my city.
This is my goal! There are so many kids out there that need YOU.
Amie
Forest Sage is offline  
Old 03-18-2002, 03:33 PM
 
laralou's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: little house in the suburbs
Posts: 4,818
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have always wanted to do this since I started working in inner-city outreach groups. I made dh promise we could do this when our kids are grown. I know that our children could learn a lot from having foster siblings, but I think foster kids often take a lot of attention and effort. I want to be in a position to give them my undivided attention and effort.
laralou is offline  
Old 03-19-2002, 02:35 AM
 
Ravin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Atenveldt
Posts: 5,848
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
My parents were foster parents when I was a kid. There are good points and bad points. When my sisters and I were little, they took teenaged boys, and that worked well except for one boy whom they had to accuse of stealing the car to get out of the house. He'd been abused by his mother and was very mysoginistic, and they had no business placing him in a home with a woman and three little girls. But a couple of other boys each lived with us until they turned 18. After that bad experience, though, we had extra girls in the family, older than my sisters and I, preteen and teen. That was great, because I got to be babied a bit instead of being the oldest. We moved, and went through a couple of years without foster kids, then in the new state, when my sisters and I were teen/preteen, they took in girls.

One of them, my sister Janice, lived with us from the age of 14. Her life before landing in our nest was unspeakably rough, but now she's probably turned out the best of our lot. At one point she ran away age 17), but when she need help, she was welcome in my mother's house (by then my parents had divorced) even though she was too old for foster care. She and daughter and my niece's father lived with my mom for a while, they got married in her house (J waited until her dd was 3 before marrying), now they're independent and Janice is a wonderful mom to her 7 year old girl.

I know she never could have gotten to where she is without our family, my mom especially. Making that difference in just one kid's life makes it all worthwhile.

As for concerns about the other kids, it was better for my sisters and I when we had a foster kid or two. We were all treated the same, and it didn't make family life unstable. In fact it often brought our sibling rivalries under control, and our relationship with the foster kids (especially Janice) was very special.

I fully intend to be a foster parent once in a stable household situation, regardless of how old my biokids are.

breastfeeding, babywearing, homeschooling Heathen parent to my little Wanderer, 7 1/2 , and baby Elf-stone, 3/11!

Ravin is offline  
Old 03-19-2002, 03:06 AM
 
laralou's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: little house in the suburbs
Posts: 4,818
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I think it all depends on the parent's stress threshold. I for one have a low tolerance for stress and a foster child that had any special needs in addition to my already high-needs child would be too much for me. I would rather wait, as I said before, until I can give a foster child my full attention and energy.
laralou is offline  
Old 03-19-2002, 03:55 AM
 
Greaseball's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Eugene, OR
Posts: 8,570
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
I think some foster parents are selfish. I was reading this magazine article and there was a Q&A about foster parenting, and one woman wrote in about "What if the child doesn't work out for us?" And the answer was "The child can be placed in another foster home."

What will that do to the child?! What about trying to work things out? Why weren't conflict resolution tools listed? Why just give the kid up?

Another woman was reassured that she wouldn't have to take siblings. Oh that's great, this kid's family gets broken up and the siblings are all he has! I think taking siblings should be required.

Taking foster children should be something done for the children - not for the parents.
Greaseball is offline  
Old 03-19-2002, 04:26 AM
 
Laurel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Western U.S.
Posts: 2,133
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
What will that do to the child?! What about trying to work things out? Why weren't conflict resolution tools listed? Why just give the kid up?
I think it depends on the situation. I certainly think that foster parents need to go into fostering expecting the possibility of working with some challenging kids and being willing to give it their all. I also think they need to be given adequate training to work with troubled children--and ongoing support in dealing with those children. But I also think it's important to recognize that there are a few children out there that are truly unmanageable. Some foster families are better equipped to handle such children than others. No family should be expected to put their own family members in danger because of an extremely violent foster child, or because of one who becomes a perpetrator of
physical, psychological, or sexual abuse. I don't think it's selfish for a person to honestly assess their own limits and assert them. I do agree that a foster parent shouldn't go into it expecting it to be a piece of cake, and then want to immediately bail when things get tough. But neither do I think that foster parents should have to just take anything that's dealt them. Fostering is about as tough a calling in life as I think there could be, and I think we need do everything possible to support those who are willing to take it on.
Laurel is offline  
Old 03-19-2002, 01:35 PM
 
Irishmommy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: In the bat cave with heartmama
Posts: 45,457
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally posted by Greaseball
I think some foster parents are selfish. I was reading this magazine article and there was a Q&A about foster parenting, and one woman wrote in about "What if the child doesn't work out for us?" And the answer was "The child can be placed in another foster home."

What will that do to the child?! What about trying to work things out? Why weren't conflict resolution tools listed? Why just give the kid up?

Another woman was reassured that she wouldn't have to take siblings. Oh that's great, this kid's family gets broken up and the siblings are all he has! I think taking siblings should be required.

Taking foster children should be something done for the children - not for the parents.
So what about the child that tries to set himself on fire in our house, or the child that attacked me more than once, in front of my kids, or the group of 4 or 5 siblings when you have a kid or two of your own, or the kid that bullies your own child, in your home?

Sometimes there is no choice but to have the child removed. I would love to go into all the details of the above examples, but I can't - confidentiality rules. Most foster parents work damn hard to keep the foster kids, even us in the above examples, but it doesn't always work out. How long would you keep a child in your home if you were scared to go to sleep at night in case that child burned your house down around you? How long would you keep a child that abuses your own child? How many bruises will you let yourself be given before you give up?

Also, sometimes you think you can deal with a certain behaviour or a child with a certain past, and you find you can't. For example, what if you have been molested and take in a child that has also been. Ideally, your past would make you be able to help that child even more than someone that had not been molested, but it's just as possible that having that child in your home and knowing what she went through could just bring back your trauma. In this case it would probably be more detrimental for the child to stay than to be moved elsewhere.
Irishmommy is offline  
Old 03-19-2002, 02:57 PM
 
Greaseball's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Eugene, OR
Posts: 8,570
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
I realize many foster parents have the best intentions, and that sometimes, a child just does not get placed in the right home.

I think the article I read was written from a very selfish, parent-first standpoint.

I also realize that many parents have abuse issues, like most foster children. Perhaps there is a way to specify what sorts of abused children the parent will not work well with, so the child has a better chance of being placed in the right home.
Greaseball is offline  
Old 03-21-2002, 02:03 PM
 
Katrina's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 296
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I think when my kids are older we will foster parent. There actually are a lot of babies that need foster homes, even pretty healthy ones. About a year ago, Oprah had on a woman who started a home for babies who were waiting to be adopted. She said that otherwise these babies would be left alone in one of those plastic bassinets in the hospital, and rarely held or talked to, sometimes for weeks. It made me so sad..... I think someday, if I am emotionally ready, I would like to open my home to drug addicted babies, abandoned babies, etc., as a stopping point on the way to adoption. I feel like right now i would be too heartbroken to give them up. My aunt has a baby, at christmas he was 6 weeks old, and he wasn't thriving. My aunt wasn't producing enough milk, and instead of going to a lactation consultant, she just gave him formula. Then she would heat up the formula too hot, he would cry, and my other aunts would say, "it's too hot", and she would gripe and say it was fine. Then she would feed him, put him in another room, and leave him to cry by himself. It made me so sad, and my husband and I ended up holding him the whole time, and trying to comfort him. I really felt like stealing him, and I still think about him all the time. That's how I know I would have an awful time giving up a baby I took care of all the time.... But maybe someday, when I feel more "done" with having babies, I could handle it. I also think I would consider adopting older kids, maybe 7- 10 years old. There are a lot of kids that age that are eligible for adoption.
Katrina is offline  
Old 03-21-2002, 02:12 PM
 
laralou's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: little house in the suburbs
Posts: 4,818
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
You know, in my hometown, a lady I volunteered with started a girls home. For those of us that don't feel we can foster yet, we could volunteer places like that. You know, one day a week spend time with girls that are disadvantaged, mentoring. I did this through a group I was with years ago and one girl still thinks of me as her mom (her mom died and I was the only woman she spent time with).

I will have to look for one in the city I am in now.
laralou is offline  
 
User Tag List

Thread Tools


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off