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.

14 comments:

Sunday Koffron Taylor said...

That is so very hard for me to read as a former foster child. The system is so broken, but yet children who are truly abused need placement. When good and decent people cannot/will not deal whith the system, who does that leave for the kids? It is such a sad and hopeless situation.

Penelope said...

I say deal with the system. When the kids are adopted, you don't have to deal with the system and can raise YOUR kids. A mighty difficult struggle though.

Amanda said...

I have taught future foster/adoptive parents for years... Hard to believe it has been 4 years!
I have always just tried to be honest. When I was in the middle of painful disruptions those truths were much harsher than when I was in post adoption bliss. Bottom line, we (adults) have the power to rise above the system & the kids are stuck in it, so I don't think I'd ever try to talk anyone out of foster care. I would try to give them a clear idea of what to expect though.

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Anonymous said...

Losing our daughter day after tomorrow . She has been with us for over a year and her birthmother has only been back in the picture for a month and a half after being completely MIA for over 4 months. The system is a joke and I am dying inside packing her things for the day she leaves. And for all those people who think we profit from raising foster children for the record in over a year we have never received the first bit of financial assistance for her. She was our daughter and she got everything thing she needed here love affection a family 3 brothers mom and dad. We have a farm and she loves to go help with the animals each day and never once did I ask when is someone going to pay me for doing this. She is my heart and I feel it breaking in two. How will she ever understand she came to us at 13 months old she leaves us at 26 months old. We are the only family she knows and she will not understand why we disappeared. This is not like a child being removed from a bad situation where there is no comfort or love, this is a good place, her safe place and she will just b snatched from it without a chance of comprehension and I don't know how to make it better. How to let her know that never in a million years if there was anything I could do would I allow this. I would never abandon her like those others but through force I guess I will and I hate it I hate every second of it.

Sunday Koffron said...

I am so sorry anon. So, so sorry.

Anonymous said...

How awful...I too feel your pain, as we are foster parents to a 16 month old, who came to us at 3 days old. He is our heart and soul and I CANNOT imagine him leaving us. My heart goes out to you...something needs be done with the process, these are innocent children in the middle of a HUGE mess. These "parents" get away with murder and yet they get their children back. Not fair, unethical in every way! I pray that you find comfort in knowing you did your part for you daughter, she will ALWAYS have a place for you and your family in her little heart!! I'm so sorry....no words can make this any better. Be strong, as strong as you're able.

Jen said...

I have been where you are & totally feel your pain. May God's grace be sufficient for you in this time.
A fellow foster parent,
Jen
http://richfaithrising.blogspot.com/
...because Life IS a Poem!

Foster Mamma said...

My feeling is that whatever system is created is going to be disfuctional because the families we are all working with are disfunctional or the children wouldn't be in the system. Nothing is clear cut. One thing that encourages me is the amount of foster parents who are standing up and demanding change, now we just need to get social workers who are willing to put their careers on the line to fight for the rights of these great kids.

Alisa, Foster Mamma to two great girls. http://attemptingagape.blogspot.com

honestybecomesme said...

This is such a difficult conversation... I worked with families in NYS. I was a family case worker, not for CPS but for a non profit contracted with CPS. My job was family preservation through education. Meeting the goals set for parents to keep their children out of care or get them back from foster care.

The goal MUST be family reunification. If it isn't than the likelihood of children being taken from parents because they were thoughtless and left the kid alone or their house was dirty (not condemnable, but dirty) will increase and that is NOT ok. The trauma of a child being taken from their families when their lives are not in danger and they are not being severely abused is so horrific. Almost as horrific as your experiences of children leaving your safe arms and going back to who knows what. Also, if you shorten the time for TPR (in NYS it is a year and a half I think) then parents don't have the chance to get their act together. Addictions and abusive habits need WORK and TIME. They SHOULD have the opportunity to reform themselves. The goal isn't to take babies from their mamas. It is to help families care for their own so they can care for their babies. Sometimes this is impossible and unfortunately it can take far too long for the system to figure that out. I also very much agree about the situation with case managers. I have worked with some WONDERFUL ones who were very understanding and caring seeking the best for their children. Not biased against the parents OR the foster parents. I have also met some assholes who should be shot. I almost took one guy out myself. It's a lot of power to have over people... :( I am afraid there is no good answer.

CK said...

There are so many points of views on the Foster Care system. The bottom line is that if you've set you heart on loving children who are really victims of adults that we're probably victims themselves, then you should put your face down and LOVE unconditionally, no matter what the outcome can be. Navigating the rough waters of county Foster/adopt is very difficult in many cases. The sheer numbers of children to worker ratio is staggering. It seems that Foster parents seem to be the last to be considered by the Social Workers, Attorneys and Judges. At the end of the day, you are helping shape the lives of children who would have possibly ended up in difficult situation and possibly just as bad as they came out of.

My wife and I are fostering 6 children and would love to adopt them all. How it will be one year from now? We'll just have to wait and see what all the Social Workers, Attorneys and Judge will decide. As hard as this is to practice, we're praying for what's best for the kids! Wether it's to move back with their biological family or stay with us.

All the best to you moms. You have our utmost respect and we are glad to be in the same special fraternity.

Keep up the amazing work!

CK

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