So what is fostering / Adopting really like? Does it take forever to do? What if the children do not like me? What if I cannot do it? So many what ifs , So many questions and yet everyone has their own story to tell everyone has their own piece of the puzzle that holds a child’s life together. Everyone is the glue that keeps that child growing into something. When people take in another child into their home it is a whole new process for everyone. The children are walking into a strangers home, new everything. How do you think that child feels? The family taking them in? From an insider looking into, what would you observe from this? Someone who is taking care of someone else’s child or someone who steps up and opens their arms to someone else’s child? No matter how you look at it, both the family and the child are feeling mixed emotions. We are always there for children right? Helping them feel comfortable and loving. Helping them adjust to some type of schedule. Little things like that and to try and attempt to get their lives into a normal schedule right? The late nights and the early mornings, the rush to get them to school and the worry of them being at school. Or, if you are new at this, adjusting to the whole “School” thing. Things like that, your life changed in one night and were you ready? Were you ready for all this change? Were the children ready for all this change?
I was on the other side this process. I was the child, I was brought into many strangers homes. Following different rules and different schedules. Nothing was the same, no matter how the family tried to get me into a normal schedule. Everyones “Normal” schedule was different. Some homes I was in bed by 7pm and other homes I was bed by 9pm. Some families let me see my real mom and other families cut off communication. Just little things like that. When I first came to my parents, we actually had a 3 day weekend where we could focus on getting ourselves clean, lice out of our hair and check out the house. We were given rules right away and expected to follow them. It was a lot to take in, everything changed in one night and I was not prepared. I just had to go with the flow, my sister did not adjust well the change. She was acting out more, throwing things, wishing she was back with our real mom. I guess this was her emotions coming out? We were not used to the love that were given, because we never had that type of love before. Everything was new to us.
I can continually share my side of the story to you and you can hear the details over and over, but I have done some research on the Parents who foster. How they felt, what process they went through and the challenges they faced. They are the true heroes for opening their door to children/strangers that they do not know. Why? why am I doing this? I want to tell the world something that is unknown to them. Many people do not foster, because of different factors such as, they believe the parents should hold responsibility, the parents should know how to take care of their children, they do not want to take care of other people’s children and they may not like what they like and be LIKE them. The fear that they might hurt them and their family. So many factors and so many excuses. But, a child’s life is not an excuse. A child is brought into this world to trust their parents right? When that parent hurts that child, that is something that is unforgivable, something that stays with the children forever. That is a burden that the child will bear for the rest of their life.
As I continue my research, I find people who choose to foster and what makes them pick the options that they do. Some people want babies, some people want older children. Why is this so? What makes these choices better? Did the parents have to go through classes and why? Isn’t this like watching your own normal children? There are so many factors in adopting, that sometimes the process can seem overwhelming. Sometimes it seems like too much. Why?
Each child that comes into their home is different, they come with their set of challenges and triumphs. They have their own personalities and sometimes they clash, while other times it works. The family will do anything to help keep the children safe, from getting bigger cars, a bigger house and more love. Like it is their own family. People say that it takes a special love to love children that are different than yours. Different in every way. Only a certain group of people in the world will adopted children , because they see potential in other children that some people do not see. What do I mean by this, well.. think about the children you see at the park. You have no real connection with them right? They are not YOUR children, you do not have to take on that responsibility. So, no love is formed with that child.
Now, let us look at the pros and cons of fostering. Every year over millions of children need families, because of various reasons from abuse to parents passing away to even abandonment. These children get moved from home to home, never really having a home or never really having those experiences. I remember hearing my friends growing up together, having their own stories, referring back to those memories they spent time together. I wished I had those memories, I wish I could have stayed in one place and developed more of a friendship with my friends and families. I wish for a pat on the back or someone to say they were proud of me. These children are surround by people making decisions for them and assuming their thinking, telling them what they can and cannot do. Those may seem small and important things, but one thing we forget to ask is “What the children are thinking…” and you may not get the answer you want right away. The children are processing what just happened to them, what is going on and what is going to happen next. We do not see these children as “Children” , but “foster children” almost like a label, an item, something that is given. Think about a normal child, you ask what is going on and they will tell you everything right? They will give you a step by step process on what happened. Not a “foster child” Why? Why are they not like “Children.” Why wont they act the same way or do what we ask them to simply, why? These children have gone through so much, they wish to be treated like regular normal children. The families and adults gives the labels , which defines their future. Which puts a label on them, before they could speak their mind. They have a label and that is who they are.
Why do we have to divide our children into these categories? Make them feel less about themselves? Help us feel better about ourselves? Help us understand more about people? How children react to this type of situation? Many people choose not to foster, because of the unknown , the unknown of how the child will act, how the child will be. While, others , how bless their hearts, fostering children daily, monthly and weekly and yearly. They take so many children into their home, just to give them a bed to stay in, a home and even a person to call “Mom or Dad.” Some children do not even have that option. They want someone to tell them that they are proud of them, show some love, even if it is for a couple months. Remind them that they are normal children. Some children do not even get to ride their first bike until they are in High School or Middle School. Socially many children are behind and mentally. When I went to my foster parents, I was at a 1st grade level while in third grade. Just little things like this made foster children different. Foster children are given a future that they are not, this future can define them or push them to work harder. We may not think that our actions or decisions affect Foster children, but the reality is, they do. They know more than you think. They have seen more than you will ever know and they will do more than you expected. Everything is unpredictable, even for them and you. Not only are the parents going through a change, these children are making a huge change in their life.
Now, let us talk about home visits, home inspections and even celebrations. What can the foster parents can do. What they cannot do. This varies from agency to agency and even state to state. Some Foster parents have to get permission to cut their hair, trim their nails and even have birthday parties. The home visits can be monitored or not, depending on the situation, this puts the Foster parents in an Awkward position. Some of these parents want children, but realize that these children are not their children. So, how do you think they feel? Are they really comfortable with this? This is for the children right? Everyone expects the Foster parents to be flexible and ready for anything. Expecting them to understand that these children have another family, another life. Something they did not experience. So, do you think that they fully understand what is going with the children? Their homes have to be tip top shape, their actions are closely monitored. Any big family vacations have to be approved. How do they do it? That takes a lot of dedication and patience. The foster parents make sure to document anything and everything that they do and buy, to make sure they are making the right choices for the children. Helping them feel like normal children. Going to their sport events, play events and school events. Helping them feel like a normal children. Some children, have troubles seeing this, because they do not know what “Normal” is. They do not know that the foster parents are working hard to give them the love they never had before. It takes a special person give their dedication and life to this type of life.
Foster parents are looking for the next new thing to keep up with the children they foster. They learn something new with each child, what they like and dislike. It is like keeping a whole classroom of children’s needs straight. How the children cope with different things. Some can talk about their feelings, while other have trouble even forming a sentence. Some use that feeling and make the best of it, proving everyday that they are worth more. According to the Fostering Success Foundation, there are over 400,000 children in Foster care in the United States alone. In third world countries the numbers are a lot higher., children are fending for themselves, watching their parents die of diseases, knowing their fate is giving. A parents act can determine a child’s future, but it up to that child to fight for their future. With that said, there are many unreported cases of child abuse. Parents who hurt their children, yet prove they are in the right. Parents who control their children and give them no voice. Tell them to speak a lie in public so the parents do not get reported. It is all about control and that is what happens in most situations, even if the child is moved to a new home. Foster parents will do everything they can to take care of these children, but the real parents will find every way to control the situation, from cutting their hair to painting their nails, to even determining if they should celebrate their birthdays.
Children are brought into this world to trust their parents, no matter how wild the children get, how upset the children get. The parents are expect to hold themselves in a responsible way. Lead and not give in, right? That sounds like a perfect life. Well, it does not always work that way. We are all born differently, all born with different needs and wants. Our bodies develop differently. If the child acts out more or is born with some “extra” needs, this can put stress on the parents , which can cause arguments and stress in the family. It can lead to abuse both physical and mental on both the children and the Adults. The thing is, the Adults will always think they are in the right. They will always think they are the ones doing the right thing. Think about it, have you ever been so stubborn that you refuse to be wrong? Refuse to see the right in the situation? When my step – Dad raped me, he always told me that it was to keep my mom happy. I just wanted to keep her happy , so we did not have to keep moving into strangers homes every month. He believed he was in the right and I had no voice.
Every children has a voice, foster or not. Every child has a voice. Now, they may make many mistakes and it maybe hard to understand their needs and wants, but every child just needs someone to listen. Someone to tell them that ” Hey, those feelings you are having. They are okay to have. It is okay to scream and shout for a bit, to let it all out.” Just giving that child a comfort of who you are and why you are there, that is the most important thing for a child.
I am not saying I am an expert in this topic, I am here to show you the real life. The life that Foster parents are going through. They may not speak their mind, because of some unspoken rule. It takes a special person to step forward and completely do a 360 on their life for a child or two or three. Remember if you choose to Foster any children, be open to their experience and new experience. Try to blend their lifestyle with yours. It does not always work out, but you gave that a child a light. A light to fight for in the future, a reason to wake up every morning and remember your heart and love towards them. They may not see it now, but as that years pass. Your name, your home and those memories will stick with them forever.
Being a Foster child, I get asked ” Would you foster?” I simply answered ” Yes” because it gives another child a chance to live. A chance to become themselves and not what the system labeled them as.