When I posted the video about foster care last week, I received a kind email from one of my long time blog lurkers, Suzanne, who asked me to please share the WHOLE truth about foster care... that it's NOT all sunshine and roses. Being that we have never walked down the foster care path, I asked Suzanne if she would be willing to write a guest post for me. Know that she's not writing to discourage you from foster care, if this is where your heart lies, but simply to educate you and prepare you for what lies ahead. I never want to mislead you with things I post on my blog, so I am always grateful when people offer to guest post with experiences who have been there/done that! Thank you, Suzanne, for sharing!
Who takes the child by the hand takes the Mother by the heart
Recently Renee posted a video about the need for foster families. While I commend her for bringing light to this service, I shared my concerns about the, shall we say, “sweetness and light” of the video posted.
Foster care can be one of the most edifying acts an individual can enter into. However, it can also be extraordinarily difficult, frustrating and depressing.
Children of all ages are placed into foster care for, in most instances, one reason; abuse of some kind. Physical, emotional and sexual abuse are among the most common reasons children are placed in foster care.
If anyone reading this blog wants to investigate becoming a foster parent, you must understand that caring for these children is not like watching your neighbors children.
Older children in the foster system tend to be extremely angry. Sometimes they are hostile and violent. They have experienced abuse. They have been taken from their homes and, in some cases they have lingered in the system for years, going from home to home. They may not know how to express their emotions, and so they lash out at their caregivers.
Younger children may have known abuse their entire lives. They cannot understand the meaning of trust or love. Younger children may not want to be touched. They may never look you in the eye. Smiles can be something very rare.
While thousands of children within the foster system are “available” for adoption, when you enter into foster care you must understand this: the number one goal of the foster system is something called reunification. Reunification is when a child is placed either with an extended family member or with their parents again. That adorable and vulnerable child that stands at your door step will (most likely) not be yours. This is the hardest aspect of foster care. To not allow yourself to become so very attached to that child.
After a child is placed in your care you must deal with classes, court cases, interviews, medical checks, inspections, social workers and paperwork. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Now you are saying to yourself goodness, why should I even consider becoming a foster parent? It sounds so frightening!
The main reason to enter into the foster system is this: hope. A damaged, frightened child will come to your doorstep. Be it their first time or their fifth, they have no idea what to expect. But you can show them what trust means. You can show them that a hand...is just a hand. It is not a means of hurt. You can show them that your voice can bring about laughter, not fear. You can show them humanity.