My parents did shelter (basically emergency foster care, when they are being taken out of the parent(s) care and waiting for a regular foster home to be found) and foster care for many years. They had kids ranging from babies to teenagers. They adopted two of their foster kids, (my older brothers). The things these kids have been through….it breaks your heart. One of my brothers had a mom no longer in the picture and his father gave him up beause he could not properly care for him on his own. My other brother, though, had a mom who had kid after kid, all by different men. It seemed like she would have one “batch” of kids, those would get taken away, and she would have another “batch”….there was a lot of abuse and mom was always after her next drug fix. My mom said after he had been in their home a couple months, he asked her why Dad was the only man who ever came home at night.
We’ve had babies come to our home with bruises on their faces in the shape of fingerprints from being slapped so hard. Kids who have gone through physical and sexual abuse….it is heartbreaking what they have gone through, but those kids still love their parents, even when those parents are not worthy of that love.
I would say for the most part our experiences were good. I know the biggest frustration for my parents, (and also for me, in the later years as I got older and understood more), was that the system (at least in the county they fostered in), was TOO gung-ho to send the kids back to their bio-parents. There were kids that were sent home too soon only to end up in the system again and again because the parents weren’t ready/willing/able to care for them properly. I know some parents just need time or education and they can learn how to be good parents, (there were some kids that were sent back home and to our knowledge at least did well once they were returned), but others just aren’t ready, and may never be ready. They shouldn’t be given chance after chance at the kid’s expense.
We also actually had two girls (sisters), who were placed for adoption, and that was a really rough experience. It seemed like the county just wanted to wash their hands of them. They were adopted to a couple who really only wanted the older girl, but were pretty much forced into taking the younger girl as well, (she was learning disabled), because they had to be placed as siblings. It was clear to us they strongly favored the older girl. There was also the issue of the adoptive father having a bio-daughter in his home country that he was not allowed to see until she was 18 for some unknown reason. The records were sealed, but the county didn’t seem concerned at all…just dumped those girls into these people’s care while our concerns were ignored. I often wonder how they are doing….I hope they were placed in a situation as bad as the one they came from.
It’s interesting, though….after those girls left, my parents decided to take a break from fostering, (which I am pretty sure has now become permenant). We started fostering dogs instead, after our resident dog passed away. When fostering dogs, the rescue groups strongly look to the foster family for guidance about what kind of home would be the best fit for a particular dog. After all, the foster family LIVES with the dog day in and day out, they KNOW the dog, usually better than anyone else in the organization. We had a guy interested in one of our foster dogs. He was gone long hours a day, and she would need to be crated. This was a senior girl who was unlikely to be able to “hold” it that long. He seemed like a great guy, just not the right match for our foster dog. I told the rescue group that, and they listened and said they had a few other dogs who might be a better match for his living situation. It’s AWESOME that they listened to what the foster family had to say, but at the same time, it’s a litlte sad to think that a DOG rescue group put more stock into the foster family’s opinions than the HUMAN “rescue group” did.
Again, for the most part, I would say our experiences were good. You really make a difference in the life of a child when you foster, even though it may not seem like it. If nothing else, you can be that soft place for them to fall when the world around them is crumbling. Just know that there will be downs to go with the ups, but I think in the end the good outweighs the bad.