To Foster or Not Foster a Child for DCBS

As a practitioner of positivity I did not want to hear it...

    All the negative responses upon mentioning our plans to foster a child.  And, don't get me wrong, I only mentioned it to close friends, a few family members and women I perceived would be supportive of our plan.

    But even those few people, my mother, grandmother, women with advanced degrees that work or worked in social work, my childcare provider... were not encouraging with the idea to foster a child.  I was surprised and saddened by this and resolved to buckle down that much more on the idea to foster a child. 

    "All the negative stigma that goes along with fostering only proves to me we're that much more needed you know?" I said to my husband one evening. 

    He agreed. Both of us were a little nervous but on board to foster a child. 
    Our 4-year-old son, Sam, loved the idea of having a 'foster brother' to play with too!

The primary reasons I want to foster a child are:

-I sincerely want to help a kid out. 
I thought, 'we're able to meet another child's needs, we can provide a loving home for another child until he or she can return home to his or her birth family so, we should do this... because we can!'

-I want a playmate for our son.
My husband and I elected for him to have a vasectomy a few years ago. 
I suffered with some postpartum depression with the birth of Sam and feared going through all of that again. 
Raising a child from birth to adulthood is a huge undertaking so, the idea of just stepping in for a child in need for a while really appealed to me.

-I've fostered dogs and cats since 2006 off and on.
I know pets are different than people but, there are a lot of similarities too. I've always been strong enough to let go of my foster pets and figured that'd be a good indicator of my ability to let go of a foster child too! My goal through fostering is not to adopt.

Sammy (wearing orange) LOVES being around other kids. He's pictured here with a couple of his friends at "La Abuela's."

-We have room for one more kid in our home.
We bought a little house in July. Upstairs is a long a-frame area. We use 1/2 of this area as Sam's bedroom (it's cool like a cave per Sam) and the other 1/2 is empty. We've envisioned, for months, with love and excitement, our foster child having that area as his room. 

Sammy's room

    Lastly, the per diem, tax-free rebate from the state in the amount of $26 was an attractive idea too. I didn't even know there was money involved in fostering children so this did not play a part in my decision to want to foster but, when I did the math, I liked the idea of having that extra money coming in to 'add quality to our family's life.' This is the purpose of the money per the state, to 'help out.' 
    Of course the foster child would have medical insurance from the state too. 

How I Overcame the Negative Opinions About Fostering a Child:

-A few individuals expressed concern for Sam, my mom being one of them. 
"They're just kids we're talking about mom! And, we will foster a child younger than Sam so there's no danger of anything bad happening to him," I told her, and dismissed her concern as paranoia. 
Again, I'm a practitioner of positivity and chose to envision a foster child being integrated into our strong, healthy family with ease, love and joy. 

-A few individuals said, "these kids have a lot of problems since they're coming from really bad situations."
I thought it unfair to judge a child by the behavior of his family. I was not willing to do that. The parents were the ones with problems after all, not necessarily the kids.
And I thought, our love will be stronger than anything that child has endured and, love wins

Love wins, sometimes. 

The Process of Getting Approved to Foster:
    We attended a 2 hour orientation session and were given a lot of paperwork to complete. 
    We did our fingerprints, had forms completed by our doctors, for all 3 of us, to show we were stable, mentally, physically and emotionally, to foster a child, we dug out old divorce certificates, completed reference forms, income forms, we were even asked to provide a copy of our credit score! 
Foster paperwork is no joke!
    This was work but I didn't mind doing it because I get why they need all of this info.

    Then came the day of our first session of mandatory training. That was yesterday, Saturday. We were expected to be in class 2 consecutive Saturdays for 7.5 hours each time. Again, not something we really looked forward to but understood it was necessary. 

Some of What was Said in our First Class...

    made me sob, more than once. I was a wreck early on in the class. 
    Other things said made my stomach literally turn upside down.        What these kids have gone through is horrific.
    The teacher was and is an angel, a 65 year old woman that has fostered more than 600 kids in her lifetime. Her specialty is teenage girls... a.k.a., very brave! She has 3 kids that are hers biologically and another 3 they adopted through foster care. This is a woman of great faith that depends greatly on the grace of God and the support of her church to do what she does. 
    Early on in the class she and another woman shared a couple of horror stories, one about how a drug addict father was caught on the side of the highway at a gas station selling his two young daughters to be part of the sex slave business. -Once these girls were 'all used up' they were to be killed and their organs sold for money on the black market. 
    -Stuff too awful to imagine was shared in this orientation. I cried. I cry thinking about it. And these girls were lucky since the human trafficking transaction was interrupted before they were sold!

    Shortly after this I raised my hand, "We have a son that's 4 years old. We can't have him picking up bad (or unhealthy) behaviors from a foster child so we plan to accept a very young child into our home," I shared, digging for re-assurance after these horror stories. 
    The teacher quickly interrupted saying, "We've had 2 year olds try to stick stuff up other childrens' anuses in foster care before. I'm sorry," she went on, "but taking in a young foster child is not a guarantee you won't deal with some of this. They do what they know and have learned, even at a young age."
    The other DCBS worker (another angel in her own right) chimed in, "we've had 1 and 2 year old kids eat their own feces in foster care." 
       With the first teacher's response is when my stomach turned with sickness. This struck me to my core as all I could think about was a little kid trying to do that to my baby boy.
Our foster kid would be in close sleeping quarters with Sam.

          "Let's leave at lunch break and not come back..."

    is what I whispered to Fabricio at this point.

    Shortly thereafter we had a restroom break. Fab calmed me down; I was crying and could barely talk clearly. 
    -We stuck it out for the rest of class.
    Just the night before I was reassuring my husband that we could do this. I gave him and myself a heck of a pep talk saying, "You only have one life to live and you should make the most of it. Helping turn a kid's life around... what could be more honorable than that?! This will make us stronger as a family. This will build character and be rewarding. We're a strong, happy, healthy family. We can do this! Anyone that fosters a kid does so, to a degree, on a leap of faith. We must trust the Universe and God, knowing we won't be given more than we can handle."
    Now I was not so sure about all of that. And, I'm still not sure.

Our family, on vacation in Cozumel, 2 springs ago.

    We're leaning towards waiting until Sam is older and more capable to speak up for himself if, God forbid, another child were to try to do something inappropriate to him. 
    This has been very emotional, which is in part why I decided to blog on it. 

    I feel so badly in a way because I want to have faith that everything would be fine. And I did... right up until yesterday's training. I want to take a kid in and show him or her how great life can be... if you're willing to let go and move forward with your head held high, with confidence
    But at the same time I know that, with a child, his problems become your problems, that is when he's under the same roof as you. And I just don't know if we're ready or able to take on so many potential problems. I want to bring a child up and I'm scared this could do the opposite and bring my family down. 
    And I feel like an ass for even saying that. 

    To end foster care class they did an exercise with a big black garbage bag saying: that's what most kids arrive to a foster home with- their few 'precious items' in a garbage bag (so sad). 
    They showed some example items like, unwashed clothes, dolls and... bugs (the names of bugs written on papers anyway). They said it's not uncommon for a foster child to have head lice, bed bugs and/or roaches in their bag so to never take the bag into your home. My Lord. 

    I pray for humility and strength to make the right decision for all involved. I hope that one day in the future we'll be strong enough to foster a child. 

   Feel free to share your own experience, if you have experience, on this subject too.