Thursday, June 16, 2011

How to Frame a Foster Parent

Becoming a foster parent was a life long goal of mine. My husband just went along with it. After all—Happy wife, happy life.” Our first adopted child was adorable in his inability and we have grown to recognize his uniqueness in our home and this world.

Our decision to add to our family was not difficult. After all, we had 4, one with special needs, what was 2 more? We were excited about the two little girls and tolerated that they brought their little brother with them. We were assured that they would heal together and were predicted to have a fairly normal life. They came with the label “minimally impacted by their previous environment,” which didn’t sound all that scary.

As life would happen, the three were more than 2 handfuls when it came to their behaviors. Our home quickly turned upside down with these “minimally impacted” children. So, in keeping with accepted practices, we enrolled them in counseling and other behavior programs. We kept track of them, monitored them, played with them, took them on hikes and bike rides. We built a new playroom for them, decorated their bedrooms, played games, celebrated birthdays.

However, one day, it became too much. One of the girls accused the other of inappropriate behavior. She revealed this to her counselor, obligated to call Child Protective Services. OK, this couldn’t be too bad. This will help the children get the assistance they need, right? WRONG!

We learned quickly that the system that brought the children to us with little more than a cursory explanation of their past would now turn on us and blame us for their behaviors. The healers became the hurters. We were quickly turned into the enemy and taken to court.

Long story short: We are no longer foster parents and have been warned not to allow the children’s behavior to escalate to the point where we require legal involvement. If that happens, the judge warned, the children would be removed from our home. Oh, and that help the children were going to get? As far as the state is concerned, since it is not the children with the problems (obviously, it must be the minimally sufficient parents), they must not need any help.

We have learned lessons experienced by many people greater than us—it is not if a foster parent will get sued, it is when. It takes a special person to be a foster parent—one who is willing to go to jail for the deeds done by those before them. The “system” is not in place to provide healing for hurting children.

So, how do you frame a foster parent? The answer is easy. Place kids into their home.

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