I've been having a hard time keeping up with my blog posts. It's not that nothing is happening around here. For two people technically without jobs we have multiple things to do every single day.
Then I figured today I just need to push through this writers block. Then I saw that a blog I used to follow out of the corner of my eye had a link up for Foster Families and I thought YES! Some support from people who understand. Not so though. Because of the nature of privacy for these kids nothing can be really said.
It is a good way to answer a few questions that I get though so here goes.
Why would two 50 somethings take children with needs into their home when it is suppose to be their golden years? We ask ourselves this sometimes too. A few years back our son who is a teacher found out a past student of his needed a foster home and possibly an adoptive home so he and his wife decided to become foster parents. Since we have been childcare for their two daughter we decided to take the classes with them. By the time we were done (about a year) a family member had stepped forward to take care of that little girl.
Within days of becoming licensed we both had placements. Theirs was a pair of brothers from his school and ours was a 4 pound newborn addicted to drugs. Their placement lasted 7 months and ours was three months. The baby went to family and their boys went back to their parents.
What do they call you?
Tom and I feel that children are our forte in life. Everyone calls us Grams and Pops so that's what our fosters and our son's fosters call us. We treat them like family. Include them in vacations, family pictures, take them on the same outings as we would our own grandchildren and of course buy them too many clothes which is my personal weakness.
Does it hurt when they leave?
YES!! of course it hurts. Our son and daughter-in-law are still grieving for the boys that were reunited with their parents. They haven't been able to foster again yet. To them the system didn't quite work because the parents were still somewhat dysfunctional. Reunification is the big catchword for Social Services and sometimes it doesn't appear to be in the children's best interest.
Do you meet the families?
YES! It is nieve to think (like we did)that you can take care of someone's children and never meet their parents. There are visits, court, meetings and doctor appointments. The parents smile and shake your hand but they think you want their child. They don't appreciate what you are doing for them and their children so don't look for it. As a matter of fact it is a pretty thankless job but that's not why you should do it.
Do you stay in touch?
In court the family will say they want the kids to stay in touch but they don't mean it. They want that part of their lives to be a forgotten part of their past. We ask their workers general questions about their situation and feel better knowing they are safe.
How long do they stay?
The shortest we have had is 8 days. The longest was 17 months. We have learned to ask when they call with a placement if they think it will be long or short just so we can prepare. If we need to transport them to their school or move them to ours, or how many clothes and toys they may need or supplies like diapers. Usually the ones who are quick go to family members not parents.
Do you get paid?
Yes, we get a few hundred dollars a month for each one and I guess if you wanted to take in a handful of kids at a time you could make some money. We haven't felt yet though that you could pay us enough to cover what we put into these kids. They all have issues, most likely they need therapy and other support that we set up and manage. Your life is not your own to come and go as you please.
Is it worth it?
YES Of Course!! These kids love unconditionaly. To make a difference in someone else's life even if they don't thank you or remember you down the road is one of the most rewarding things we have done.