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#1 of 10 Old 05-26-2018, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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First time foster parents, potentially fostering a teen

Hello!

My partners and I are in the process of going through training to become foster parents. We are a queer polyamorous family with 3 adults living in the home. The agency we're working with has an older teen (late high school) they're interested in potentially placing with us. This kid is mildly autistic and seems to be in the process of figuring out where he falls on the gender spectrum, which is a big part of why the agency thought we'd be a good fit.

Anyway, I'm interested if anyone here has fostered older teens- queer teens and teens with autism, even better- but any thoughts/advice/information you might have on teens in general would be very helpful. We are first time foster parents without children of our own, currently. My husband has worked with teens in the system in a group home setting, years ago, but other than that we are very new to this.

Thanks in advance!
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#2 of 10 Old 05-27-2018, 05:14 AM
 
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One of the most important things to recognize, and agencies do not always stress this enough, is that if a child has been removed from their family, it is because of either severe abuse or neglect, or that the child has such significant behavioral problems that the parent(s) do not have the skills to parent the way the child needs (in my state called a CHINS case 'child in need of support'). A child who has been abused/neglected, depending upon at what life stage, is going to potentially have some significant needs for emotional and/or mental health support. A child with behavioral problems often needs a therapeutic level of parenting, not easy and requires much more training than foster parents are provided. Yes you can always stop the placement, but for so many of these kids, there has been one placement after another where they have not succeeded. So it is extremely important to get a lot more detail about the child you are considering. DCF will often gloss over the problems because they are desperate for new foster parents and they cross their fingers the child will not be as problematic in your home as in other homes. That being said, the need for foster parents is great, and foster children need really strong stability, consistency, fairness, kindness, respect. Parental units have to be strong, cohesive, on the same page, extremely knowledgeable about trauma. If there are more grown ups in the home, their will be more opinions about how to raise the child, and more possibility for less cohesion; this part needs to be rock solid to parent a child with history of abuse/neglect well. Educate yourselves way more than the agency is educating you before you consider. See Resources in the sticky in this forum for some good ideas. good luck!
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#3 of 10 Old 06-02-2018, 03:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your thoughts. We all have some understanding of trauma, my husband especially given his past work with troubled teens, but we understand we have a lot to learn. So far the agency has been very good about answering all of our questions and concerns, although there have been some communications hiccups, they haven't caused too much of an issue. As far as consistency and keeping a united front, that is something we've talked about a lot and, while we've generally been on the same page about most important things since we've been living together as a household, we also have plans for when we have disagreements on how to address them as smoothly as possible.

Also, update, they are placing the teen with us and they are also training us as an intensive services foster care family. We won't start that training until, probably, July but if you know anything about that then any thoughts/advice about it would definitely be welcome.
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#4 of 10 Old 06-03-2018, 05:27 PM
 
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Each state has different names for these things, but I would suggest that your prospective foster child likely has some pretty challenging issues if they think that extra training is in order. You would certainly want to ask a lot of questions before accepting the placement.

 









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#5 of 10 Old 06-06-2018, 11:01 PM
 
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Hi Guys,
First of all thanks for sharing your amazing thoughts with me. I really like it very much. I am also a mom of two children's and I know very well how difficult it is to handle two teen anger. I definitely going to follow your tips in my scheduel. Please keep sharing like this.
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#6 of 10 Old 06-09-2018, 11:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Update: The kid is joining our family this coming Tuesday. The process has been expedited so he doesn't have to be sent back to where he was staying before because the social worker believes he needs a place with people who will give him space to explore his interest in feminine expression and see where that leads, which he was not allowed to do previously. We know his background (where he was raised, how long ago he entered the system, a bit about where he was for the years he was in the system, which family members he's still in contact with and which he isn't). My suspicion at this point is that he requires intensive care because of something categorical, rather than specific, but I may be wrong. Either way, he's coming on Tuesday, so we need to be as ready as we can be.

We met him once a few weeks ago. It was mildly awkward but otherwise it went well. We met him, his social worker, his aunt who lives a couple hours away from us and who has permission to take him on weekends pretty much whenever she wants and permission to drop by our place as well. I think that will be helpful since she's known him his whole life. She, the social worker, and the kid himself were all part of the process of deciding whether he should stay with us. I really, really believe that it can go well but we are new to this so advice and resources are very welcome. I may not take every piece of advice but I will consider it.
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#7 of 10 Old 06-09-2018, 07:45 PM
 
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Do they tell you why he is in the system? What specific abuse or neglect caused his removal? Or was it a series of traumatic events? This is not just about his need for gender expression. Kids only get into the system due to trauma. Many foster parents find they wish they had educated themselves a lot more about trauma once a child is in their home. Here are two excellent websites.

http://childtrauma.org/cta-library/

https://learn.nctsn.org/

You may already be familiar with these.

 









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Last edited by lauren; 06-10-2018 at 06:27 AM.
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#8 of 10 Old 06-09-2018, 09:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by lauren View Post
Do they tell you why he is in the system? What specific abuse or neglect caused his removal? Or was it a series of traumatic events? This is not just about his need for gender expression. Kids only get into the system due to trauma. Educate yourself as fast as possible on trauma. Here are two excellent websites.

http://childtrauma.org/cta-library/

https://learn.nctsn.org/
We know how he grew up and who he was with, we know why he entered the system and how long he's been in the system and a breakdown of every placement he's had since he entered the system. We know which family members he's in positive contact with, which he is in somewhat unstable contact with, and which he has no contact with. We know he's mildly autistic, which I already mentioned, and we know why they want to remove him from the group home he's currently in (too rigid and conservative and it's causing his depression and anxiety to increase- part of why they want to place him with us and it's states away from the only family he's in contact with and they live a few hours from us- another part of the placement decision, according to the social worker).

Also, I didn't say it was only about a need for gender expression, I said they believe it will be good for him to have space to explore that and that's why they want him with a family like ours that they know for sure will accept him whomever he eventually discovers himself to be. I appreciate that I didn't give too many details before (nervous about confidentiality, but we've since gone over that in more detail with the agency) but, still, I would appreciate it if you were willing to give us a little bit the benefit of the doubt. Of course we have been educating ourselves about trauma. It's the main focus of most of the foster care training that we're going through, which is a standardized training used worldwide so I assumed it was pretty well known that foster care training is very trauma focused. We have also been reaching out to other people who have experience with these things in professional and personal settings. I even mentioned earlier that my husband has worked with teens in the system in a group home so we're not going into this completely blind. We all, as a family, have also had trauma in our lives that we've worked through. We know it's not just about gender expression, that is one element of it, but it is an important one. Important enough, according to his social worker, that they've made his ability to explore that a priority.

Thank you for the links, please be reassured that we are not completely incompetent.
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#9 of 10 Old 06-09-2018, 09:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just reread my earlier posts and I already mentioned that we know how long he's been in the system and his family situation and reiterated that my husband has worked with troubled teens AND mentioned that we all have some experience with trauma.

So, forgive me if I'm regretting my nice tone earlier, but I am. I gave you a lot more information than strictly the fact that he needs room for gender expression so I'm feeling very ignored in this conversation at this point. I have been nothing but polite and I have done my best to address all of your questions and concerns, directly, and I would appreciate that same respect.
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#10 of 10 Old 06-10-2018, 06:25 AM
 
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I'm sorry you are feeling ignored. In our area we have had to work very hard to get trauma included in foster parent training; foster parents have had to work very hard to get information on why children are placed; DCF often glosses over things in an effort to recruit foster parents because there is such a need; they often downplay the behaviors and just cross their fingers it will work out. All of that adds up to a lot of foster parents who get in over their heads without the support they need. I'm just saying I see that as a problem in many areas including ours. Many foster parents have said over the years "I wish they had told me _______".

So I'm not saying anything is wrong about your set up and I didn't conclude that you needed major education, it's more of a reflection on the child protection system than anything. They often minimize certain things in order to get foster parents to take children in need. You had said that the more intensive training wasn't starting until July or so, and that the child was coming this week, so that just concerned me from the standpoint of agency/DCF support (they often put the cart before the horse in our area).

I wish you all the best with this placement as it sounds like you are going into it eyes wide open. I'm sorry if you felt misread; that was not my intention.

 









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Last edited by lauren; 06-10-2018 at 06:29 AM.
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