Being a Foster Parent

Being a foster parent is hands down one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Foster kids tend to have problems, often need more love. Some have medical problems, psychological or emotional problems. Some come into your home as drug addicted babies. They can make you feel helpless because of what they have gone through or what they’ve put you through. It can be hard on your family and your career. Sometimes they lash out at you or want nothing more than to hold you.

One child who came into our house, came into it because she was what’s called failing to thrive. She was a baby, too weak to crawl; her voice was just a squeak and her mouth hung open because she didn’t know what it meant to eat. Despite this, she was one of the most gorgeous human beings I’d ever seen. During the brief time she was with us, as she recovered, she began to crawl for the first time and stand. Her laugh came along with her crawling, a silly, joyous laugh, a little bit Ernie from Sesame Street, a little bit Shaggy from Scooby Doo. She was able to go home to family after a few short weeks. She and our daughter were great pals and in that short time, sisters as well.

Another would come and go before the two we have entered our home, seperately but as biological sisters. Each child has her own unique personality, her own eye sparkle. Each child has its own trials and tribulations.

And navigating social services, working with social services, taking the kids to appointsments, ER visits certainly isn’t easy, brutal actually. But I believe that when we adopt our little girls, it will be worth it, if only to have the knowledge that they are in a safe home with a family that loves them.

Recently in the news, the police came upon a house with eight kids in San Antonio, TX. According to the article I read, one child was chained to the ground and the other and the other leashed to a door in the backyard. The children were taking into custody of CPS and placed into foster care. If you hear stories like these and wonder what you could do, if you have that capacity to care, maybe you could be a foster parent.

Some foster parents provide temporary shelter the first night or so for children that come into foster care until they are placed with a family. Others give longer term shelter until another family adopts their charges or adopt them themselves. Where we live, after several weeks of classes and a home study a few months later, we were certified foster parents. We didn’t get our first child immediately, but in the grand scheme of things it was a brief wait. Where we live, social services offsets the costs of clothing and diapers. The children get WIC and Medicaid assistance. Their hospital expenses are not yours. People may judge you when you are in public. If your children are minorites, they might judge that too. Heaven forbid your special needs foster child loses it in public. All eyes will be on you, judgemental eyes. People will be quick to offer you advice that won’t do you any good. But you, you could mean all the difference in the world to that child. And sadder still, your hands could be the first parent’s hands that a child has known since birth.

If you think you can offer a child your hand, your heart, please take a look at the links below:

May is National Foster Care Month, which you can read about here:
https://www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth/?utm_source=Gateway&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=NFCM

To find the foster care agency in your state, follow this link:
http://www.adoptuskids.org/for-families/state-adoption-and-foster-care-information

If you are thinking of adoption, your state or your workplace may take care of or reimburese your adoption fees. Where we live in NYS, we have not paid for our Family Court Attorney or our Adoption Attorney; those fees were covered by the state.

Being a foster parent isn’t easy. For example, foster children in NYS are wards of the state. The state makes the major medical decisions and educational decisions for their children. This lack of control is rough when “your” child needs medical care. But in the end, you’ll know you made that difference, given something to someone who may never have had it otherwise, may have never known a parent’s love if it weren’t for you.

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