Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Squeak is 4! And, how to talk to current and potential foster parents?

So I just saw the comment on an old entry asking if anyone was still around to update.

Unbelievably, our little guy is four now.
He's doing great.
He's brilliant and sweet and creative. He says mind-blowing things on a regular basis. He's still kinda clingy but he's doing well socially with his peers too. He's obsessed with Toy Story. And our kiddo does obsession well! It gets boring fast. Ah well...

I came back and took a peak at this blog after a long time away because a member of my community is in the process of getting licensed through the county we worked with. I wanted to share some of my perspective, so she could be as prepared as possible for the terrible realities of the system. And possibly choose not to take her family down that road.

Another community member posted on FaceBook a few days ago a link to an article claiming (like a recent commenter did here) that counties are stealing kids for foster care because it brings money in. And then in the discussion that spurned, another article by a social worker in the foster care system who knows the iffiness of what she does for her job but thinks "better me than someone else."

The morality of being involved in the foster system in any voluntary way (meaning case workers and foster parents, rather than birth parents or children) is such a fuzzy grey area thing. I can't make heads or tails of it. And I can't judge others for which side of the line they land on, as long as they're seeing the line with their eyes open.

However, there's another whole level of ethical concern to consider when there are already children in the home. I would never foster through the county again now that I have a kid. The mismanagement and meanness is too risky to my family's health. Would I do it through a more competent private agency, which would still be subject to some of the limitations that the county has as far as getting a decent outcome for the children in its charge? Maybe... But it'd take a LOT for me to trust any agency again as far as they need to be trusted to become that deeply enmeshed in my family's life.

I have struggled so much with thinking the existing system should be shut down and that no reform is good enough, yet really wanting to see SOME competence within the system since it doesn't seem to be going anywhere any time soon. If there were good case-workers, more good foster parents would stick around (I personally know MANY who have been burned too many times by the incompetence and will never go back). And the kids would be so much better served. I would still think it was an unethical and wrong-headed approach to dealing with child abuse, but maybe it could stop causing quite as much harm.

So does it make sense to encourage ethical people who are good parents to be involved in foster care? Or to discourage people you value from getting themselves trampled by the foster care monster?

Not that it matters, entirely. People will make their own decisions. But I'm struggling with this right now.