We have been foster parents for more than six years. We have had a LOT of children placed with us over the years and we have had a ridiculous amount of funny, sad, happy and heartbreaking things happen in that time. Foster parenting is a HUGE commitment and one not to be taken lightly. I am about to say some HARSH things about foster care. You may not want to read!
It is something Shel and I always wanted to do and something we (for the most part) have enjoyed.
There are some things about foster parenting that are so frustrating words cannot express. I have avoided - for legal reasons - ever posting anything about the fostering experience on my blog. For some reason I have recently changed my mind about that and I AM now going to write about some of our experiences.
In foster parent training there is a lot of discussion about "Grief". A child who comes into your home as a foster parent is grieving. For MOST of these children they have recently experienced something profoundly painful. For many of them there has been a history of pain, of loss, of disappointment, but even if they came from a PERFECT home, one in which they were fed, clothed, nourished and loved right up until the minute they were removed and put in your home, they have suffered something tragic and THEY WILL BE GRIEVING.
I personally do not think that there is enough emphasis placed on the grief of foster children. Something that sticks out to me vividly from the training that I was in specifically spoke to the fact that "the younger a child is, the less grief they experience and the faster they adapt." The part about adapting may be true. A youngster might adapt to a new living situation more rapidly than an older child, but there is NO way a small child does not experience grief.
I recall one of the young children who came to stay with us. This child was young, under the age of two - we have had many children this age. This particular child came into our home and in behaviour was really amazing. From the outside it would have been easy to say this child was calm, quiet, good mannered and so forth. What I know now is that this child was in shock. There were no language skills to give any kind of verbal explanation as to what was happening. This child had NO idea what was happening and in all honestly I believe remained in shock for more than a week.
We become so "matter of fact" about what is happening. Worker calls or someone "on-call" calls to ask if a spot is available for placement in your home, driver comes over, driver drops off kid with bag of clothing (sometimes), Driver leaves, ON-call person says they will have worker call in a few days with details, family and new child are left "to adjust to one another". This explanation may seem harsh and may appear as though I am being callous, but EVERY child who was EVER placed in our care was placed in this way UNLESS we were asked to pick the child up ourselves.
The system is BROKEN. A broken system CONTRIBUTING TO broken families and broken children.