One of my best friends, Lindsay, from junior high and high school is a social worker, and of course has been following this foster care post very closely. It's been not only her job, but her heart, for the last several years. And so, here are some thoughts from her. I hope that any of you considering foster care are reading closely, taking this all in, and praying. There is a lot to be said for both sides of this. Foster parenting has to be one of the hardest, most rewarding, heartbreaking, beautiful jobs I've never experienced, and my hat goes off to all of you foster parents out there who open your homes and your hearts to these children. Again, my offer is open, if you would like to share your story here, just email me. My hope is that several new committed foster families will come out of this series of posts, if it is what God is calling them to do.
First and foremost, let me say that abuse is not the only reason kids are placed in the foster care system. Neither is it the most common! It is actually rare! The majority of kids who are placed in the system are there because of parental substance abuse! The kids are taken out, because Mom is cracked out and can't look after them properly. This can often lead to neglect...which can sometimes lead to abusive situations. There are many kids in the Foster care system who are victims of abuse, but this certainly shouldn't make them damaged or unwanted. These are the kids who need safe and loving homes the most!
Second, reunification is not an option for most kids! There are thousands of kids in the system who will never see their parents again! There are group homes across the country filled to capacity because there are not enough homes to take the kids in! Fostering children is an amazing opportunity to shine a light into a child's life that has seen nothing but darkness! Even if they return to a family member, the difference you make in their lives for that short time can change their life!
Thirdly, we have a "Group Home" system for the children who are uncontrollable and damaged, the technical term is Severely Emotionally Disturbed (SED). This is where I worked for 4 years. And I actually found these kids to be the most affectionate and in need of love! I have seen more smiles, more laughter and gotten more hugs from these kids than I do with the "normal" kids I work with now! It is possible that you may get an SED child and the placement may fail...but that's why we have this system, to make sure that all kids get the help and safety they need!
The system has many flaws and it can be difficult...but the positives far outweigh the headaches! You have an opportunity to give hope and love to a child that has never had it before! Even if you only have the kid for a short time, the light that you can shine in their life is irreplaceable!
Working in the system was the hardest and most rewarding job I have ever had! Yes, I grew big attachments to the kids I worked with. And because I was able to open myself up to them, I was able to help them, and make a difference in their lives. Six years later, I still think of them and pray for them all the time!
The best advice you can give anyone looking to Foster is to educate yourself, pray about it, and trust God!