For years, foster care has been misunderstood, unfairly judged, criticized through local media and television shows, and the subject of harsh headlines. It’s time to set the record straight…
We spent 9 years in the foster care system, as a care-givers to more than 23 children. Six of those children never left our care and became a permanent part of our family from 2008 until 2012. Our years in the system were trying but also filled with lots of beautiful moments. Thankfully we made it a point to live with as much peace as possible. As a result, we still have relationships with many of the children we fostered, as well as their families.
We desire to hide our deepest wounds. And rightfully so. We’ve been taught that wounds equal failure. As parents we fear the words “I told you so,” if we revealed our struggles on this journey. But what if our wounds didn’t equal failure? What if they did something bigger than we could imagine?
I know what you want to do, dear parent.
I know because I’ve sustained the same cold blows from this journey.
You want to hide.
Have you ever found yourself frustrated with your child’s case-manager? Sometimes it can seem like we are on totally different planets from case-managers when it comes to the many decisions being made about children in our care. What are they thinking? Where are they coming from?
This week, we welcome our good friend, Megan Stroup, Founder and Director of Helen’s House in Marian, Indiana, which specializes in supervised visitations and case management. Before founding Helen’s House, Megan worked in the Department of Child Services for 11 years. Megan is also an adoptee and mom of three. Megan shares with us today about her own experiences as a case manager.* In listening to and understanding another’s perspective, we can all learn to build more positive, healthy relationships with those involved in our children’s lives.
Foster care has gained a global spotlight over the past few years thanks, in part, to movies and media coverage. Many people are choosing this path. But, there’s a right reason and a wrong reason to choose this journey.
“I wish we could do away with the term foster-t0-adopt,” my friend said, as we chatted briefly during a conference a few days ago. “It communicates the wrong message to people who are entering the process. We should call it, foster-to-reunify.” She was referring to the underlying intention some have in entering the journey, to build a family by fostering. Not specifically the program of fostering-to-adopt. I nodded as I listened. She was completely right. Foster to adopt IS misleading at times!!
There’s a beginning and an end to everything. It’s one of the natural rules of life. Foster care is no exception. But, how do you know when it’s time to hang up the license and be done?
On a warm sunny afternoon in May, 2012, we stood in a stuffy courtroom in downtown Indianapolis, before a judge, and family and friends, declaring that we wanted to be our son Sam’s forever parents. It was an exciting day for us. We had stood in that very courtroom for 2 other adoptions in year’s previous. Our little man was glowing that day. At only 3 years old, he knew what was happening and he was excited.
On the road of foster care and adoption, you and I will encounter many well-meaning people who may not be so well-meaning. How do you respond to people whose words or actions are highly offensive to you?
For years I have allowed others a free pass when they have overstepped into our adoptive and foster family. I’ve given grace and gritted my teeth while people say passive aggressive things. I have dismissed inappropriate comments as ignorant. I’ve even herded my children away and given them extra hugs, kisses and explanations for another’s rude behavior. In an effort not to embarrass the offender, I have allowed my children to feel shame and uncertainty about who they are and who we are as a family.
We were foster parents for 9 years. They were extremely long and difficult at times. To be honest, we almost quit, especially when it seemed that we couldn’t take one more day. But looking back we are eternally grateful that we didn’t give up. We would have missed out on several big blessings!
I get it! Let me just say that clearly before we go too much farther. I completely understand why people want to walk away from foster care altogether. If you’re not dealing with difficult case managers, a court system that says one thing but does another, birth parents who continually bail on visitations, you’re dealing with children who are pushing you to your absolute limit!
Due to technical difficulties we will not be posting a new podcast today. Click here
to listen to recent episodes. We apologize for this inconvenience. We are pleased to share a recent post that Mike did for Disney’s Babble.com
on some of the myths of foster parenting. You can follow his work with Babble by clicking here
Over the years we’ve been asked all kinds of questions, and faced some unfair judgement, regarding foster care. We’ve learned to deal with the off-handed, even offensive, assumptions or questions. In this post I’m setting the record straight.
“Was he a crack baby?” “Is her mom in jail?” “You get a lot of money for doing this, right?” “But aren’t you worried about something bad happening to your family?” Sounds harsh. But the fact is, we’ve had these questions, and more, asked of us over the years.
For decades, the foster care system, and foster parenting, have both carried a stigma. Several, to be accurate. The vast majority of the world just doesn’t get it, nor do they comprehend why a person would take a child into their home who isn’t biologically theirs. Foster parents have been criticized, accused, labeled, even judged.