4/29/09

Fostering

We are "in-between" having extra kids in our house right now. We started being foster parents two years ago but have taken it pretty slow given the ages of our own kids. We have had three children in our care in those two years. We had lined up another little guy, a three year old little boy, but that got put on hold since we needed to take more classes. So last weekend my hubby and I hired a sitter and spent the weekend in the city taking classes. They were really good overall. I think I could have crammed 8 sessions into one weekend instead of two though. We still have another weekend of classes to do but since we are now in "seeding time" on the farm it will have to wait, at least for my husband. I might try to go on my own this weekend and see if that will suffice for a while.

Its hard to answer the question of why we want to be foster parents. One myth and subject of gossip in our little town that I intensely dislike is that we do it for the money. Where do I even start with that one? All I can do is shake my head at the ignorance involved. Let me just say that there are easier ways to make a buck than having a toddler that is not your own throwup on you all night...or a traumatized tantrum throwing kid take a baseball bat to your windows. I would make more babysitting a child in my home... sending them home at dinner time than I do being a mommy around the clock to a kid with major issues. The money enables people to do what they do and gives them some resources to care for the child. You can't pay someone enough for the rest...it has to come from somewhere else. Like a love for kids.

Its not that I necessarily have such an empty boring life that I need more laundry, more meals to make, and more teeth to brush. My house and my life are full and busy with the kiddos I have ...although I do have moments of spare time for things like this...that may change in the future. Its not because I have it all together as far as being a parent goes. I'm not a super-mom.

I actually have no idea why I want to be a foster parent (especially given the last post)...but I feel the need to. Not only because there is such an extreme need in our society but because I feel undeniably drawn to it. It engages my heart in a way that tests me to my limit but I love it.

During the classes I fought tears. I am not an emotional teary person at all usually , but every thing we were watching in the videos, every behavioral issue we discussed and every case study we looked at broke my heart. I could put little faces to the statistics....little faces that I've kissed goodnight. I was surrounded by seasoned older foster parents...some of them fostering for 20 years. They've seen it all and experienced more than we could imagine so I tried my best to hold it together. I didn't want to look like the bleeding heart rookie. I found it down right exhausting.

Foster parents in my part of the world have gotten an unfair bad rap in the media this year. There are so many over crowded homes and there is a largely dysfunctional government system. But there are countless good homes among the few bad ones. Its easier to lump it all together and not want any part of it. The reason that so many of the foster homes are overcrowded is because there just plain isn't enough of them. The kids, are why we need to do something. In our area of the world there is an enormous problem with dysfunctional families, addictions, addicted teens having multiple babies, and domestic violence. There likely is everywhere if you open your eyes to it. The collateral damage of all the pain and dysfunction is the innocent kids. Victims of neglect, all kinds of abuse, and so many atrocities. Not all kids are in foster care because of abuse or neglect, some families just need a chance to get their lives in order or are unable to care for a child for one reason or another. One thing I've learned is not to judge the bio parents....as hard as it is sometimes.

I'm a big fan of permanency in a kids life whether that is with their bio family, a permanent foster family, or the kids being made adoptable and being adopted by a loving family. Getting bounced around the system or back and forth to unsuitable parents is devastating for a kids. It has created a generation of kids with extreme attachment disorders...which is a horrible thing for society in general. Proper attachment leads to proper brain development, development of a conscience, ability to bond or trust, a sense of personal responsibility.... and the list goes on. Kids need stability, period.

Because of our future plans to return to work in Mexico this winter and possibly other ministry overseas in the future we have decided to open our home up as short term parents. We will get the kids in transition. I know I am setting myself up for some heartache but I also know my heart is attached to one bigger than my own. I also know its not about me. Yeah ,it is hard to let go of a kid after they are "yours" for any amount of time....really really hard. They are not my children. I might treat them as my own, love them as my own and call them my own but they don't belong to me. They will always hold a chunk of my heart, but they are not mine.

Here are some rights of children as listed in our paperwork.

1. The right to be protected against neglect, cruelty, abuse, and exploitation.
2. The right to safe housing, health care, and an education that prepares them for the future.
3. The right to be a unique person whose individuality is protected from violation.
4. The right to prepare for the responsibilities of parenthood, family life, and citizenship.
5. The right to maintain relationships with people who are important to them.
6. The right to a stable family
7. The right to safe, nurturing relationships intended to last a lifetime.

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