-What is foster care?-
Foster care is temporary care for children who have been removed from their homes and birth families because of abuse and/or neglect. The goal of the foster care system is to work through each family’s issues and reunite children with their birth families. Foster families, case workers, birth families, and others involved such as therapists come up with a plan for reunification and all work together towards this goal. This process can take anywhere from a few months to several years. Unfortunately, reunification is not always possible and the children are then placed in adoptive homes, many times their current foster family. We are getting licensed for foster care and adoption. Our goal is to find a child/children that have a low chance of returning to their biological family but this will still require a certain period of being foster parents before official adoption can take place. For now we are looking to build a forever family.
-Why foster care adoption?-
Since we have begun to share our decision to pursue foster care/adoption with friends and family I have actually been surprised by how few people have asked this, but what people think and what people say are two different things. First and foremost, are we struggling with infertility? The answer is, no. This is not our “Plan B” as of right now, it is very much “Plan A.”
When I first met Mr. Something he didn’t want children at all. He knew how many bad and screwed up people there are in the world and didn’t want to contribute. But such is the view of a 16 year old. 🙂 I always knew that there would be children of my own in my future and left it as that. As we grew together that view and opinion changed. As we became a married couple and approached our thirties the conversations became more real and I struggled with “off” feelings about getting pregnant and having a baby. I knew I wanted children in my future but I never wanted a baby. See more about my the initial thoughts and feelings that lead to this decision here.
After discovering the overwhelming need for foster families in the United States, the decision became undeniable. How could we ignore the fact that we have a loving and stable home to give to a child or children that have never experienced such? Do I know how difficult it is going to be? No, but does any parent, biological or not, truly know how difficult parenting is going to be?
It starts with patience. It’s a type of patience that I know runs deep within me. I teach in a highly affluent community. Because of this, the economic divide between our “average” kids and the kids that qualify for assistance, such as free or reduced lunches, is a chasm wider and deeper than usual. I have very little patience for the child that acts outs but wants for nothing, who has a stable and supportive family, food on the table, privileges beyond my own comprehension. The child that comes to school in a bad mood because he left his iPhone in his pocket and his housekeeper accidentally washed it. (Yes, I teach primary elementary school.) What I never tire of working for is the students that can’t tell me if they had dinner the night before. The ones that come to school with the same dirty shirt on three days in a row. The kids with nothing but a Pop Tart in their lunch with the gas station price tag still on it. My river of patience runs swift and deep for them because they didn’t choose to be born into that life. I fight to give them their one undeniable right, to just be a kid, for the few short hours that I see them, knowing that they go home to care for younger siblings without the presence of a loving adult nearby.
So, why foster care? The answer to this questions evolves and changes with every passing day. What I do know is that Mr. Something and I have examined this option from every possible angle. This is not an accidental pregnancy that we grew to love. If and when the day comes for children to be placed in our home, it will be the result of countless discussions, research, reading, classes, counseling, certifications, and soul searching. What child wouldn’t benefit from coming into a family that is that dedicated to the work its going to take to know the right way to help and care for them? We are choosing this journey with the knowledge that there is going to be a new and safer present for the child or children we welcome into our home, but more importantly, a future filled with possibilities that were once so far out of reach.
-Isn’t foster care expensive?-
Not at all. While children are being fostered there is little to no cost for the families. Foster parents are not legal guardians of foster children, the state is. The state covers all medical costs, legal fees, and foster parents are reimbursed the cost of caring for foster children. It is a daily rate that varies depending on the specific needs of each child. Plus, even if a child from the foster care system is adopted, their medical insurance is paid for by the state until they reach the age of 18. (Varies by state.)
-Do you have a say in what children you take in?-
Yes. Through our training and work with our own social worker, we will narrow down the parameters that are the best fit for our family. This includes the age and number of children, as well as the severity of their emotional, physical, or educational needs. The goal of the agency is to find the best fit between parents and children so to avoid multiple placements for children that have already been uprooted. We won’t, by any means, be forced to take children that we don’t feel we are a best fit for.
-What is the timeline for this process?-
In February 2013, we sent in our application to begin the foster care licensing process at a local agency. We were officially licensed with our state in March 2014. (This is a bit longer than the norm because we had various issues with our first agency.) In the summer of 2014 we switched agencies which slowed the process a bit and were officially open for placements as of August 2014. Our first calls for placements came in November 2014.
Thank you for checking in! Feel free to contact me with any other questions you may have. I am looking forward to our knowledge base growing once we begin the licensing process!