Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I can't be a foster parent, because .... (part 3)

Part One and Part Two began this series on objections some folks raise to the idea of becoming foster parents.

"I have my hands full with my own kids already."
Let me say that I find this particular comment to be one of those "shades of grey" areas where truth truly is in the eye of the beholder.

If what 's holding you back from caring for a child in need is the fact that you are stretched beyond what you can bear day in and day out, then no ... fostering is not a good idea for you. In order to serve a hurting child in the way that he or she deserves, you must have a fair amount of reserves to draw upon. If you're barely keeping a grasp on what it takes to run your family then you should not sign up for more. And please, please don't relate this to the number of children under your roof. I know plenty of moms who seamlessly balance six or more kiddos. I know just as many moms of one or two (or eight) who are at their wit's end. It's not the numbers that I'm talking about here. It's the state of mind of the parents.

All that aside, I'm a little skeptical of the "I have my hands full" mode of thought. I'm pretty sure that my cynicism comes from knowing a good number of people who use that line regularly ... and knowing them well enough to know that what their hands are really full of is a decided lack of time management, a helicopter-parent mindset that require them to orchestrate every moment of their children's lives and/or a surplus in the "me-time" department that they have mislabeled as being essential to their days.

Go ahead and shoot me for coming out and saying it, but I know at least a half-dozen homeschooling moms who cause me to regularly ask myself, "What does she do all day?"

Does that mean that there are not people who are, quite literally, working at the capacity God gave them? Of course not. I just think that far too many of us equate squeezing in one more academic subject, running to yet another soccer practice and protecting our television time with having full hands. That's not being stretched too far. That's buying into the world's idea of what it is to be a successful parent. Count me among those who
struggle with maintaining God's perspective on this issue.

"My husband/wife doesn't agree that it's right for us."

Do you remember the robot from Lost in Space? He had this handy line that was designed to throw a red flag in the face of his little human charge.
Let me steal that for a moment and adapt it for our purposes:
Danger, Potential Foster Parent!

If your spouse is not on board, do not pass go. Do not collect your foster license. And above all else, do not begin taking kids into your home.

Foster parenting is a joint journey. Even if your spouse is away at work all day or all night, you are a team. You may be the one who changes the majority of the diapers, who deals with the tantrums and who entertains social workers on your natty couch ... but without the support of your significant other, you will fail miserably.

"My house is too small."

Again, this can be a showstopper. Amy/Birthblessed posted that she has a three bedroom house and her own bio children alone put her over her county's regulations for parent/child ratios. Is that an issue? You betcha. You absolutely must qualify to be a foster parent--and your home must, as well. (I'll post later with some ideas for those who have felt a call to fostering but can not fulfill that call at this time sue to circumstances.)

But what if--unlike Amy--you haven't called to get information to find out exactly what those qualifications are?

Well, do it!

You may be assuming that your home is too small. You don't make enough money. You can't foster because you work full-time. Homeschooling excludes you from fostering. Don't assume! Check it out!

A final note on "my house is too small" ... is it, really? Take a good look around at what you've been blessed with. The old couch you wish you could heave to the curb. The living room that feels like you're on top of one another. The kitchen where you bump your husband's elbow every morning as you're pouring coffee. Now ... view it through God's eyes. See it for what a gift it is. Ask yourself: How much space does a child need? How much space do you really "need"? Measure that "need" against the miracle of safety, love and stability that you could offer a child. Which blessing is greater?

Next up ... thoughts on some practical ways you can help even if fostering isn't right for you.


Torina said...

I have been enjoying your series lately. I linked to it on my blog.

Mongoose said...

I came from Torina's blog. :) I can't be a foster parent because it's all I can do to keep a roof over my and my dog's heads - and some times I can't even do that.

Debbie B said...

I've enjoyed these posts and look forward to more. My husband and I have discussed doing foster-adopt in a year or 2. So I'm researching as much as I can now to be ready when the time comes.

Totally RAD said...

Loving this series. Please keep sharing.

Carol said...

Thank you for sharing your perspective on fostering. I just read all three of your posts. My daughter who is 26, single and still lives with my husband and me asked us 3 years ago if we would be supportive of her fostering. We encouraged her. We now have a 2 1/2 yr old, a 2 year old and an 8 month old in our home. The 2 1/2 year old has been adopted by my daughter. We thought that my son and his wife were going to adopt the 2 year old, but today we were told that if my daughter didn't adopt him he would go into the general pool of kids to be adopted and only if no other adoptive family could be found there would they consider my son's family. My daughter will not risk that after having him for 1 1/2 years and going through hell and high water with him and so she is going to adopt him also. We have experienced many of the things that you talk about.

We praise God daily that he has allowed us to be used to bring healing to these babies. The 2 1/2 yr old came to us after having been badly abused at the age of 3 mo at the hands of her foster father. She had been shaken so badly that it was thought that she wouldn't live through her 30 minute helicopter ride to the nearest infant trauma center hospital. She already had endured being a 30 week preemie, being a crack baby, and testing positive to having alcohol in her system. We checked her out of the hospital 3 days after the abuse--a very broken badly damaged baby with a questionable diagnosis for a healthy life with a healthy mind. We have been blessed to be partnered with God in her healing to the healthy fully functioning intelligent girl that she is today.

Thank you for sharing with the world your positive comments on a badly flawed system for the benefit of children who have been handed a bad deal in life. May God richly bless you.

"Whoever welcomes a little child in My Name, welcomes Me." Matthew 18:5

amblin said...

This series has blessed me immeasurably. Thank you so much!

Liz said...

good post again!

Melody said...

I really appreciate these posts you are doing.

My husband and I really feel God's tugging on our hearts in the area of foster/adopt. We recently looked into it, but our house really IS too small.....I found this out for sure. We have 2 kiddos already in a 750 sq ft. house. We have our toddler in a his 90 sq ft room , and our baby's crib in the living room. I feel confident about being able to fit more children in our home, but fully understand the regulations that the state has in place.

I was just thinking this morning about respite care, wondering if there are the same space requirements for that. I am going to look into that.

I am excited to hear your ideas for those with space issues : )

Nichole said...

I really think that for some people it's just their calling. It is what they are supposed to do with their life, their purpose. They consider it something that they must do and need to do and that there is no excuse not to, but for some it's not their passion.

FatcatPaulanne said...

I am really enjoying this series as well. We are licensed as foster parents and we have only been offered one placement, but that one did not seem right to us. I don't know if we were reluctant to take her because of fear or because it really wasn't right, but your series is helping me deal with any fear issues I have, just put it aside and be ready to take the next one.