It’s something you might expect will happen when you begin the foster care journey, but still find yourself unprepared for. Strong emotions. How do you navigate the ups and downs, twists and turns, and unending roller coaster ride that foster parenting can often become?
Our first-born daughter was a private adoption and a fairly normal baby. She even began sleeping through the night before she was 3 months old. It wasn’t long before our weariness as new parents began to drift away and we were back to normal, as normal as being a new parent can be.
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.
Over the last few years we’ve written several posts geared toward helping case managers and workers understand the perspectives of foster parents. The content gave thousands of people in the trenches a voice. But in the process, we had many case managers reach out and share insightful information that would help foster parents on the journey.
In our nine years as foster parents, we have had the privilege of working with some amazing caseworkers. They patiently walked alongside of us as we navigated the foster care system with 22 children. Four caseworkers in particular stand out as the very best. They were the kind of people who fought for the best interest of each child in their care.
In the 9 years that we served as foster parents, we met very few case workers who were active foster parents. We always found this odd, especially since we were relying on them to give us guidance and support on the difficult road of foster care.
I get it. I really do. The foster care system is a mess, and case work is hard, regardless of the state you’re from. It’s hard to find a case worker who is not both grossly overworked and grossly underpaid. The turnover rate is beyond measure.
In our time as foster parents we met some fantastic case workers with energy, passion to love children, and a dream change the system. With nearly everyone like this, however, we became sad because we knew they wouldn’t last. We were certain that in a year, or less, they would move on to greener pastures, better paying jobs, and fresh opportunities, because it was too much. Or too little.
It has been said that hindsight is always 20/20. As I look back, 12 years into the past, to our first year as foster parents, there are some things I would change if I had the chance.
I was driving my oldest son to school a few mornings ago when he began to ask me questions about the first few months he lived with us. I began to reminisce with him. It was the summer of 2004, it was hot, I was busy working full-time, traveling a lot, and we had little to no clue what we were getting ourselves into. But we were excited.
It’s a common question adoptive and foster parents ask. “How do I handle having a relationship with my child’s birth parent?” In-spite of the fear, confusion, and sometimes awkward situations that come from birth family relationships, we’ve discovered some practical ways to have a healthy relationship.
There’s a verse in the Bible that often echoes in my mind. It’s found in Romans chapter 8 and it says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Powerful words, right? After all, peace is something we’re all chasing. It’s something we all want. For me, this brief sentence is a model for life. I want to live at peace with every person on the planet. Including my children’s birth parents.