There is one aspect of foster care that tends to make me angry. Not just frustrated...but downright angry. And that is when casual people you meet treat foster kids like they are community property. There are lots of little ways people devalue foster kids. But the biggest one, the one that makes me angry, is when ANYONE says anything along the lines of, "Oh my, they're so cute. I just want to take them home with me."
Numerous strangers said things along those lines to me about Dude & Dolly. And yes, I even had people say it to me about Daisy. Now...once the foster kid is an almost grown man-child, people don't pipe up with wanting to get involved like that. But cute little foster kids - people think it's OK to offer up their home.
This is wrong.
Any child in foster care is living in a limbo from Hell! They know they don't have permanency even if they can't speak. Tiny infants (like my TT when I brought him home) know that they aren't with that woman they were inside for 9 months. The voices don't sound the same. The sounds of the home aren't the same. The smells aren't the same. The rhythm of the way the new mom walks isn't the same. They know!
And big kids know too. Kids that hear "someone else wants them" worry that maybe they will have to move again. No kid needs to have that concern in their life. And don't get me started on what a phrase like "I wish they could come home with me" does to an attachment challenged child!
It's a hurtful phrase to the foster parents too. They are the ones that sacrificed their "normal" life to voluntarily let all sorts of decision makers in. They are constantly reminded that they, as parents, are less than. Quite often foster parents are barely treated better than babysitters by the decision makers in the case. We don't have much of a say in court and we are limited by a million rules to making real decisions in a child's life. The last thing we foster parents need to hear is that someone else would gladly take that child for us. Because the person volunteering their home has no clue what it takes to be a foster parent and in one fell swoop they just devalued all the extra sacrifice. Fostering is NOT so simple as to just take a kid in to your home.
The other place I notice foster kids almost instantly becoming community property is at the doctor's office. It's even worse at the hospital.
I'm not exactly sure how to spell out the exact ways I've seen it and felt it. Because sometimes it is just a feeling. It's like the doctors and nurses take a level of control over the child and honestly think that you, the foster parent, don't care because "they're just a foster child". I had nurses be so surprised that I stayed by both Pumpkin's and Daisy's said the entire time they were hospitalized. Granted, my agency requires it. But still - I could have had social workers from my agency fill in. I chose not to. I stayed by their side because it was important to me AND because it was important to them. My kids needed ME.
I also noticed that community property issue when the doctors offered up so little information about health of my child. It was almost like they had an attitude of, "We've got this under control. You're just the foster parent anyway. We don't have to tell you anything." I never did get to see a copy of Daisy's MRI despite asking the neurosurgeon and the neurologist.
I have a friend that is deep in the trenches right now with a very sick foster baby. Her little girl was born addicted to drugs in a bad way and also has a serious heart condition. She is one sick baby and the prognosis over her future is grim. It is unlikely that this baby will ever have a "normal" life. She is going to fight severe special needs forever.
My friend has two forever kids and one other foster child. The hospital she has to be at if she wants to be with her baby isn't right next door to her house. The hospital stay has been exhausting to her on so many levels. She is stretched thinner than thin.
But still, she got added to a mailing list (I assume from her church) asking her to sign up to make meals and provide childcare for someone's biological child that is ill. Almost NO ONE has stepped up to help her. In fact, when she worried about how she had to leave the hospital because no one was available to watch her other kids while dad was at work, she had someone tell her that it doesn't matter...the baby doesn't know the difference.
No one would tell a biological parent that their child doesn't need them when they are sick and hospitalized. No one.
Don't tell that to a foster parent either. If anything, our foster kids need us even more because absolutely everything in their lives is such a mess.
The other concern with this super sick foster baby is how the medical professionals are treating the baby. She was admitted because she had a cold. Since coming back to the hospital, she has been subjected to so many unnecessary tests and treatments. She is back on methadone despite having been completely weaned off of it for awhile. And the foster parents that are fighting so hard for this baby have had no say in any of her treatment. (Both parents have medical backgrounds too so they do know what they're fighting for.) To the foster mom in question, it has felt like the hospital took over fully and isn't involving the foster parents because that baby is community property.
Another friend drove over three hours across the state to the hospital to pick up her newborn foster daughter (a kinship placement even). The doctors in this case decided to keep the baby admitted a bit longer. CPS was there but the hospital social worker decided to trump everyone and not even let the new foster mom visit her brand new baby. Wouldn't even let the foster mom SEE the baby! And this foster mom is on track to adopt this baby (she has her older brother already).
Could you imagine being told by a hospital that you can't even see your baby? Especially since CPS, the legal guardian in the case, was there saying you most certainly could?! Still...the hospital won and my friend had to turn around and drive home.
Stories like this break my heart.
Those two babies I talked about above are currently in the hospital as I'm writing this. I am asking for prayers for these two sweet babies and their foster families that are fighting so hard to be treated properly. Health, healing and a quick transition home to where they are safe and loved is needed for these babies. Thank you for your prayers.