A network of adoptive families, birth families, and adoption professionals which exists to improve the lives of children and others touched by adoption through support and education. UFA is actively engaged in community outreach and advocacy to raise awareness of adoption as a loving option.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Why Aren't You a Foster Parent?" Series: Post 1 of 3.

Today we welcome our newest UFA Blog team member.
Here name is Laurieann Thorpe.
We are so excited to have her on our committee and look forward to many more "tell it like it is" posts from her!
We share her bio below and you can also find out more about her by visiting her blog at openbookopenheart.com

Something strange happens whenever I tell people I am a foster parent.  The words must get all mixed up because what they hear is, “Why aren’t you a foster parent?”  I know because what usually follows is an explanation about why whomever I am speaking with could never, ever be a foster parent.

Well, since I never asked, let’s talk about the real reasons you won’t. 

1 - “I could never give up a child I love – especially when it means giving them back to their no-good, dirty, rotten, stinking, biological parents.”

2 - “Children in foster care pose a threat to the children already in my home.”

3 - “People just do foster care for the money.”

I’m about to get very wordy so how about if we do this in three posts, one per reason?  Let’s focus on concern #1 today.

The very best parents are those who put their child’s needs ahead of their own.  Parenting is a crash course in selflessness.  You can TOO love a child and let them go.  Chances are pretty good you’ll get to do that whether or not you ever foster a child.  Instead of thinking about what you don’t think you can do, think about what a child really needs.  When you parent that way, you’d never keep a child away from someone they love even if you’d miss them, even if it is sad.

Let’s talk about those dirty, rotten, stinking parents.  First, if you are child-centered parenting, you would never think that way about a child’s parents because it would be a tremendous disservice to the child.  Second, yes, they have made serious mistakes to have their children removed from their home but if they are getting them back, it means they chose their child over whatever demon they are fighting and the State thinks they are winning the fight.  It is something to celebrate, not disdain.  The real tragedy is when the demons win, when parents can no longer make their children their priority because they are in over their heads with something else that is winning.

When that happens and when the child is old enough to understand, you will see that tragedy in their eyes.  They will know their parents weren’t strong enough to fight for them.  That is where the real sad belongs.  Your sadness when they return home is a sadness built around your love for and missing of them.  It is a good sad, a sad that is happy, not heartbreaking.   

For one second, take a deep breath and be glad you don’t have to be the real judge of whether or not someone has done enough bad that their children should be removed from their home.  Be glad you don’t have to be the real judge of whether or not someone has done enough good to earn the return of their children.  Be glad that job belongs to someone else, and let them have it.

You have the warm blanket job, the job that means you get to wrap a child in the warm blanket of your arms, stuff them to the gills with your love, and then throw them back into the deep end where the swimming will be easier for the knowledge that a warm blanket exists.  Now that’s a job you want isn’t it?

Opening your heart and home to children, knowing it may only be for a while, is not beyond your capacity.  I promise.

Stay tuned for my take on concerns 2 and 3.

Laurieann Thorpe loves other people’s children.  She has worked professionally in child welfare, overseeing education programs for children in foster care.  She and her husband David adopted their oldest son through a private agency when he was two days old.  Later, they became foster parents.  Some children have bounced into and out of their home.  Others have come to stay.  They will adopt a two-year-old little boy this year and anticipate his little sister will join their family any day. 

Laurieann is a passionate adoption and foster care advocate.  She has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and has a unique perspective, having worked in child welfare for many years.

1 comment:

  1. Go, Laurie! So excited to see your writing show up here :)


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