Wednesday, October 17, 2012

{31 Days} Choosing HOW You Foster

First, you must decide how long you would like children in your home.

There are a few different types of foster homes. 
1. Receiving Homes
One of your first choices in foster care will be whether you want to be a receiving home or a long term traditional home. Receiving homes are on the front lines in the sense that they get the emergency calls from the hospital or the police officer with very little notice, any time of day or night. A receiving home will typically only take a child for up to 30 days while the county finds a suitable home that meets that child's physical, emotional and educational needs. A receiving home will often know little to nothing about the child as they come into their home and become a source of information to social workers during this beginning stage of the investigation.

2. Traditional Foster Homes (This includes therapuetic & high level homes - working with children with challenging emotional or voilence issues)
Traditional Foster Homes are asked to care for the child while the court offers services and works to reunify the child with their biological parents. These cases are usually reviewed every 6 months.

3. Fost/Adopt or Concurrent Homes
A Traditional Foster Home becomes Fost/Adopt if the foster parents are willing to take the steps to adopt a child within their care.

Second, there are different levels of need in foster care.

There are as many different needs as there are children in the system. Foster kids are really just kids, resilient kids at that; so many have come through their experiences without any diagnosis, still, there are others that bear the physical and/or emotional scars of their past.

It drives me crazy when people, ignorant people, say things like "you are going to let those kids live in your house? What about all their issues? What about your children?" Last I checked, no one was perfect. We all have issues, you, me, even my own “angelic” kids, ha ha!  Children are in care because their parents have issues. It is through no fault of their own and to label them as such only further impedes their ability to succeed. The children in care simply need a stable, loving adult to walk with them through their "issues."

As a foster parent, you have the right to set limitations on who and how many come into your home, including their age, gender, medical and emotional needs. You can be as broad or as specific as you want. I have even heard of fost/adopt parents that are waiting for a blonde haired, blue eyed girl that is under the age of three. Yes, you have the right to be that specific, but really, the likelihood of finding a child that meets that criteria will take much longer than if you have broader specifications. 

So, think about it.

When I say think about it, I mean with a realistic understanding of your abilities and the current make-up of your home and family, not just with your bleeding heart. (I speak of this lovingly from experience!) Assuming you were given the proper training and had a community of support, could you take in a child that is medically fragile? How about a child that has been the victim of sexual abuse? Could you accommodate a child in a wheel chair? Drug exposed? Developmentally delayed? How about the acronyms – ADHD, RAD, PTSD, there are many… Could you handle a child/teen that struggles with addiction or has difficulties controlling their anger? What age range, gender and level of care do you feel your family can adequately care for?

Many children with emotional issues, example, PTSD, RAD, bed wetting, inability to control/express anger have these issues as a result of their abuse.  I strongly believe that given a stable, loving environment and a lot of patience they will be able to work through these challenges and develop into strong, loving adults. Still, this is no easy road, so I ask again, if you had the proper training and support, is this a journey you would be willing to take?

It is amazing that you have chosen to foster. Now, you just need to choose who you can foster. Again, it is completely okay if you decide that you are not able to take certain children. It is far worse to accept them with great uncertainty and then not be able to serve them properly.  No one can or should make you take a kid. EVER.

~Tristen :)

Tomorrow: Choosing to Foster - What's Your Line?

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