The impact of all of this on your other children. How much do you "consult" them about the foster children. Are there times when you feel you slight them?I'm going to first link to the posts I wrote about this topic after Dude and Dolly were abruptly ripped from our home. These don't address foster care in general as the focus of these three posts was the loss of Dude and Dolly. But, in a way, each post does cover how the kids feel about foster care. And really, their views haven't changed.
I would also love to hear about the impact of fostering on your bios. Also, what your perspective is on families who foster while their bios are very young.
----- I'd love your thoughts on this too! We have a challenging placement right now, and it's difficult to manage the emotions of her feelings and my kids feelings.
Agree with the other posts. Impact on bio children. When fosters leave and when they are adopted.
** Cherub One
** Cherub Three
** Cherub Two
Last week, I cornered all three kids and said, "the internet wants to know again how you feel about fostering".
Herman looked at me and rolled his eyes. He said, "I'm not really affected by this."
That's not the truth though. Every time he walks into a room where Russell is, Herman makes a point to stop and say hi or make a silly face so Russell will smile. Herman plays with every kid that comes into our home. And he still has a friendship with Ricky, even though Ricky has been gone for almost a year. I'm pretty sure that Herman just thinks of fostering as normal and probably can't imagine life without extra kids in and out of the house. It's just what we do and he fully accepts it.
TT is filled with an incredible compassion. He WANTS to help kids. As difficult as foster care is for him sometimes, because of his own story, he says that he wants to foster when he's grown up. He adores having babies around. He's a terrific help. After we closed our home in November last year, TT was the first kid to say that he wanted to get licensed again because he thought we shouldn't be "done".
Foster care is crazy hard for TT sometimes. But he handles it well overall. He knows we're called to this for a season as we're not actively looking to adopt. We talk openly about the cases and I try to make sure that nothing is ever a surprise to him. For example, when the boys went with Mr. Amazing to the aquarium in San Antonio and I didn't get permission to go and bring Russell, he knew all along that was a possibility.
Bart just likes not having to be the baby of the family. He truly wants to be a big brother!!
As for how much we consult the other kids, well...that depends. If it's respite care, it depends on the age of the kid(s) and what we might have already planned for the weekend. My kids know that if we're doing respite, they have to include the bonus cherubs in their playing.
For full placements, we talk about the case with the kids. But generally, Mr. Amazing and I have made up our minds before we talk to Herman, TT, and Bart. In fact, I'll say "no" without consulting anyone. But I don't think we've ever said "yes" without talking to the forevers. And because they know WHY we foster, they've never wanted to say no. I got a text from Rainbow a couple weeks ago about a 4yo boy that needed to be moved from his grandmother's house because her health was failing. He needed speech and occupational therapy and attended Head Start. I knew...I just knew that I would be required to take him to all the therapies (as most kids don't get home health services). I also knew that I'd probably be required to drive him to his Head Start as a transfer wouldn't be possible this time of year. I knew I needed to say no to this placement for about a zillion reasons. Still, TT and Bart sat next to me practically hollering, "But Mom...we can do this. Say yes!!"
They don't have to coordinate all the appointments and do all the driving.
I said no!!
The other question at the top is "Do I feel like I slight them?"
My honest answer...yes. Sometimes I feel like my kids aren't getting enough of me because of the amount of time foster care really takes. But really...I only feel like I'm slighting them in regards to home school. I wish we "did" more school than we typically manage.
But TT has severe anxiety that he's managing much better. And we've been able to do school in a way that has kept him from feeling like a failure due to his dyslexia. And Bart isn't spending every afternoon sitting against the fence because he got in trouble and didn't get to go to all of his one lousy recess that they offer after lunch. We've learned about things that truly interest the boys in deep and meaningful ways. My boys truly love to learn!! And isn't that the goal of education anyway?! Skill and drill, memorizing facts and learning to fill in bubbles isn't what I want for my boys.
I still feel like I've let certain things slide. Writing is incredibly difficult for both boys and at the end of a long day, that particular "class" doesn't always happen. I spent four hours out today that I could have spent at home doing school. But Russell had to go to the ENT. Then I had to drive across town to pick up his special formula at the WIC grocery story. Then I had to go to the pharmacy and drop off a new Rx. When I got home from doing all this it seemed like a much better idea to simply read the last four chapters of Harry Potter that we started on Monday than it did to force the already wound up boys to write a paper about something.
Emotionally I don't feel like I'm slighting my kids at all. It's good for them to share their family. My kids have an understanding of the world that many other children are sheltered from. I believe it is because of this that my kids have more compassion and forgiveness in their hearts. They want to give. They want to serve. They do it in their own ways.
When the Neverland Kids arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs, TT and Bart immediately found their big Spiderman stuffed dolls that they had. They offered one each to Captain and Pirate. They didn't think twice about giving something they owned to someone else that had nothing. When Russell came, Bart immediately went through all his stuffed animals and found three beanie babies that were perfect for Russell to play with. I had to stop Bart at three though. He just wanted to keep on giving.
And that's what I want for my children. I want them to think outside of themselves. I want them to love others the way Jesus loves them.
Fostering has been a good thing for our family. We've experienced a lot of bad foster care crap. Our hearts have been stomped on horribly. But the love we've shared with others, both the kids and their families (I'm thinking most of Great Grandma P here) has been worth every heartache.
Foster care sucks. But even my kids say it's worth it.