When I started fostering in 2017 I realized that nearly everyone I knew thought I had adopted kids! I even had people congratulate me! 😀 NEWSFLASH: Don’t congratulate a foster parent when a foster child is placed with them. You’re basically celebrating the fact that a child was in such a reckless situation that they had to be rapidly removed from their home, their parents, and in most cases all of their possessions. On top of that, they are thrust into the arms of a complete stranger. We totally get your intentions but just imagine how much fear that child has. Yes, it’s a good thing that they are now in the arms of a safe person, but that is from your perspective, not the child’s. Most children, no matter how bad things are at home, do not want to be taken away from their mom and dad. So instead of congratulating a new foster parent, ask how you can help.
Here’s some of the questions (and my answers) I got at the beginning of my journey:
- Wow, you adopted kids?! No, I did not adopt these kids. That would be a permanent situation and foster care is temporary. When children are removed from their homes due to neglect, abuse, drugs, etc. they go into a licensed foster home like mine for a temporary situation until the case is closed.
- Are you going to adopt them? I am licensed to adopt but I have NO CLUE what will happen. I don’t determine the outcome of the case and I cannot predict what life will be like 9 months-1.5 years from now. I don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. They could be removed from my care and returned to their parents at a moment’s notice if the judge deems it fit (and it happens all the time). I’m doing my best to keep a temporary mindset.
- How long will you have them? I have no clue. The biological parents have up to one year to prove to the judge that they are fit parents. The judge can also grant a 6-month extension to that one year (and continue extending it which is how kids end up in foster care for years). The judge could terminate their parental rights at any time. It’s all up to how the parents are doing, what CPS recommends, and what the judge decides. ANYTHING can happen.
- OH, the kids see their parents?! Yes, the kids have weekly, 2-hour, supervised visits at a CPS office with their biological parents. It’s different by county/case/etc. Some parents never show (because they are incarcerated or unknown whereabouts) therefore you won’t have visits. Or you may have visits with a grandparent or other relative instead. In my case they were 95% consistent through the entirety of the case which is part of the reason we started transitioning them home to their parents. The 2-hour visits turned into “supervised” visits with me instead of at a CPS office and then into 4-hour unsupervised visits and then overnight visits.
- Have you met their parents? Yes, I see them every week and just recently started sending letters each week with updates on the boys. Yes, the first meeting was extremely awkward. But I broke ground with them and we are building a relationship now.
- Aren’t you going to get attached? Ummmm…how could you not?! When they leave it’s going to break my heart and crush me to pieces, but I have a God that is greater than all that and He has shown me that He can put the pieces of my heart back together and He will do it again! In the end, I weighed my temporary pain against the life-long pain that these kids would endure if they didn’t get into a safe and loving home. When you do that, there’s no question about what to do. And to all the Christians out there, the bible directly calls us to take care of widows and orphans. These are our orphans right here in own city (kids get removed EVERY DAY). The bible doesn’t say “when the time is right” or “only if you don’t get attached” or “after you have your husband/wife/bio kid.” There are no ifs, ands or buts about this.
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