Having gone on vacation I got a bit behind on questions people have sent me via e-mail and the formspring box (right column). I thought I’d just do a post answering a few – the rest I’ll answer by e-mail.
How do you prepare kids to return to their birth families?
Oh, this is difficult.
I think that part of it is your mind frame from the minute the kids arrive at your house. Although we try our very hardest to make kids feel at home, and to let them know that we love them – we also have to keep in mind, these are not our kids. We try to be extremely open about talking about their birth families, discussing what they miss about home, talking about their favorite memories, and making connections with family whenever possible. Also in situations where it has been possible, we have tried to form bonds with the family that the kids will be going to – so that we can continue to help with the transition even after they’ve left. In other words, we just try our best not to let ties with family become any more strained or severed than they already are.
Sometimes we have very little notice of a move. As in less than 24 hours. In these situations it is difficult to do any prepping with the kids. When we have had significant notice we discuss it regularly, (regardless of our true feelings) we talk it up and make it an exciting move, and we continue any relationship we’ve been able to foster with the next placement or family so that the kids are not afraid of us just disappearing after the move.
I think mostly it comes down to being very open to talking with the kids about their feelings, emotions, and thoughts surrounding their family and a potential move home. Of course every situation is different….and what is helpful with one kid is never helpful with the next.
How do you fit in the bad realities of life when fostering? Let me give an example - What about when you and your husband have a heated discussion? I want to foster, but I know the other trials of my life aren't going to stop because I've chosen it.
This is a hard one. Goodness knows that life doesn’t pause when new kids come to your home. I think that one of the most important things that we can give kids who come to us is a picture of how a healthily functioning family works. This doesn’t mean that my husband and I never disagree in front of the kids – it means that we show them what it is to work through a disagreement, apologize for wrongs, and love each other anyway. It doesn’t mean that I never get frustrated with the kids when they are being completely annoying. It just means that when I do get frustrated and I am not loving or kind, that I apologize to them for the way I acted and ask for their forgiveness. It’s not about being perfect, but it is about showing the kids how to appropriately deal with our imperfections. Because unless you’ve met someone I haven’t, there are no perfect families – especially when you throw a bunch of transition and change into the mix!
Does this make sense at all? I hope so.
How does the agency address the fact that you clearly have strong religious beliefs--is it assumed ok to shape the foster kids based on those beliefs?
The agency doesn’t really address this topic much. I think mostly because if you took out all of the foster parents with strong religious beliefs (whatever they may be) there wouldn’t be many of us left.
There are a few guidelines though. If the bio parents, or child(ren) have a religious affiliation prior to coming into foster care, then the bio parents can of course ask that the child be allowed to practice those beliefs. If we had a child placed with us who was Jewish, and their parents, or the child themselves, asked for that to continue to be a large part of their lives, then we would respect that and support that however we could – as would the agency. Having said that, I can only remember one case from my casework or fostering experiences where this has come up. It’s pretty rare.
When we have kids placed with us, they do generally have to go to church with us on Sunday morning, because they cannot stay home alone. However, we not ever, and never will force a child to believe what we do (I’m not sure that’s possible anyway), pray with us, or participate in our beliefs.
On a completely different note…
One of my favorite foster mom bloggers recently gave me the Beautiful Blogger Award. Her blog is Noisy. Colorful. Lively. She also blogs about her fostering experiences. She is super real, love her heart, and she makes me chuckle to boot! To be honest I don’t usually do these award-ish things, but I have to tell you that I love her blog – and if nothing else, I wanted to give her a shout out!
First, I’ll pass it to Courtney at Storing Up Treasures. She’s a Mama of 10 kiddos – some via her body, some via adoption, all via God. I love her perspective and her honesty. And there’s the fact that any woman that mothers 10 children deserves an award occasionally. Seriously.
Also would like to hand it off to another fellow foster mom at Fast Times of the Wentzels. She and I, you’d think we got on the phone and planned out our blog posts some days. I mean, sometimes they’re so similar it’s a little weird. But, I love knowing that someone gets what I’m saying!
Third I’ll hand it to Jen at Jendoop. She and her husband just got their very first foster placement, and I’m very excited (and nervous!) for them. She’s got a great heart, and they are going to be wonderful foster parents!
Last I’ll send it over to Maura at Fostering Awareness. Love her photography – and her kids are stinkin’ cute! She’s also a foster mom, and has a beautiful heart to boot.
So, you should check them out. I’m sure there are 50 more blogs I could have put on this list – but my baby girl is crying in her crib, gotta go!