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, November 13, 2013

"Why Aren't You a Foster Parent?" Series Part 2 of 3.

Today we have Laurieann Thorpe sharing
"Why Aren't You a Foster Parent?" Series
Part 2.
You can view Part 1 here.

Laurieann is on our UFA Blog Committee.
We share her bio below and you can also find out more about her by visiting her blog at openbookopenheart.com

On September 18th, I told you about how people love to tell me the reasons they could never be a foster parent.  Today, we're going to talk about reason #2.  You can read my answer to reason #1 here. We'll talk about reason #3 next time.

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.”

Many foster parents agree to parent children in foster care on the condition that there will be no negative effect on their biological or previously adopted children.  I have no problem with that.  I'm in that boat myself.

The part that bothers me is the assumption that children in foster care are an obvious threat to your other children.  Children in care come from a different background than your children.  NOT better.  NOT worse.  Different. 

I have met thousands of children in foster care and when they get a quiet moment to speak their hearts, they wonder why everyone assumes they did something to land in state care?  They didn't.  Their parents did. 

The point is, those assumptions and expectations don't help anyone.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the children in your home already pose a threat to each other.  If you're parenting more than one child, you're a talented referee.  Why would you think that talent would go away with children in foster care? 

I do not mean to minimize the very legitimate concern of caring for all of the children in your home.  You should listen to your children and be sure they are on board before embarking on a foster care adventure.  You might be surprised how willing they are, how enjoyable the experience will be for them, and how much they will love and want to protect their new siblings. 

I also do not mean to minimize the effects of trauma and abuse and how that can translate into behavior for the children who have been through it. 

You should take a long look into your heart and be honest about what you can and can't handle and what will and won't work for your family and let that knowledge lead you when accepting placement of children in your home.  You do not have to say yes to every child a caseworker calls about.  Let your heart and brain agree before accepting a placement.  Assuming you can handle more than you can is a recipe for disaster both for you and for the child.

You will also have a network of support through ongoing training you are required to take to keep your license current, and the caseworkers, agencies, and volunteers in a child's case.  Take advantage of those resources.

You can love, manage, and referee every child in your home.  Don't be blind to your own limitations or the challenges of your children but don't let fear get in your way of loving a child who needs you either. 
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.

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