Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the Foster Mom

Last month we got a letter from Sally, who said that it was time we exposed the Domestic Enemies of the Foster Mom. We thought that was a brilliant idea, particularly because Sally launched into the piece and then wrote at then very end "Let me know if you want more..." and we were like, "holy crap there's more?"

A little about Sally...first of all, she takes in kids knowing that they may leave next week, next month or five seconds after she falls completely in love with them. She says she loves "organizing things and taking naps...that's how I party..." which is so much better than what we first read which was that she liked organizing naps and taking things. Kate was kinda loving those hobbies. OH! And if that wasn't enough, Sally loves shoes. So, of course Kate is now her best friend. Enjoy!


Being a foster mom is great. But we've discovered that with every little face that enters our door, they are also accompanied by a very unique set of Domestic Enemies:

Way too many people in your business: In the almost three years we were foster parents to my son, we had 11 different social workers, 2 guardian ad litems, a speech therapist and two mental health therapists [one for him; one for me]. All of them needed to make monthly home visits and check things like the child’s well being and where you keep your alcohol. No, really. It was on a check list. Sometimes I forgot to put my Ibuprofen and child-proof cough syrup bottles in a locked box and I would have to hide everything in the trunk of my car. And since we were licensed by an outside agency, we actually had TWO social workers coming every month. But not at the same time because one of the social workers was whack and refused to conduct her home check with the other social worker. Even though they asked the exact same questions.

"Managing" all these appointments in addition to working full time and trying to raise two other howler monkey children *might* make a certain foster mom possibly forget she maybe had her 3-year-old foster son with her when she dropped off her other kids at school, theoretically leaving said 3-year-old on the playground while she ran to her car because she was late for a meeting with the social worker...who was coming to do the monthly "health and safety" check. Maybe. Oops.*

Piles and piles o’ paperwork: To become a licensed foster parent, you must fill out approximately 512 forms, take over 30 hours of classes and divulge every last painful, embarrassing and medical piece of information about yourself. Mental health issues in my family? A little. Extra toe? Do you *really* need to know that? Okay, yes but not anymore.

Asinine comments:  I've had to bite my tongue so many times that I'm pretty sure part of it is missing.
"He is so lucky!" I appreciate the sentiment. And clearly people who say this have never witnessed my daily late-for-school tirade of yelling at the howler monkeys, “Will you PLEASE GET IN THE CAR! AHHH GET IN THE CAR! WHY WON’T YOU GET IN THE CAR???! STOP TOUCHING THAT AND GET IN THE CAR!” But let me show you the volumes of documented hell that this kid went through before he was put into foster care and then tell me if you really think he’s lucky. All kids deserve to be loved unconditionally and kept safe and healthy. It’s a right, not luck.

Some of my favorite comments:

"Really, you’re going to adopt him? Aren’t you worried about his birth parents getting him back?"
While I will always be grateful to Lifetime for the LA-Law-athons I spent most of my college days watching, they have done a real disservice in perpetuating a lot of misconceptions about adoption. Trust me – it takes a whole hell of a lot to get a kid out of the foster care system and terminate parental rights. The state’s first objective – as it should be – is to help birth parents get the services and support they need to have a healthy and stable life for themselves and their children. Only once all options - and my sanity - are exhausted AND there have been about five zillion dozen hearings, will they move for termination. Once that happens, it is final.

"Does he have [in a whisper] special needs?" Uhh, yeah jackhole. He sure does. But apparently you do too.

"What about drug exposure?" Ummm, we are really careful about not doing drugs around the kids? Oh, you mean with his birth mom? Likely, but let me show you the oodles of medical evidence that show that, except for alcohol, children who are born exposed to drugs in utero can thrive in life with virtual no lasting effects, as long as they have loving, stable caregivers who can help them through the sticky stuff. It’s totally unlike dropping a baby on its head, which I think happened to you.

Inherited issues: To put it lightly, my little guy had some mommy issues. With good reason. And wow did our journey together bring me to my knees. But I’ll tell you this – we are bonded for life and I am crystal clear about what a privilege it is that he calls me Mommy. I had to earn that right, as I should. And I don’t take it lightly. When he jumps into my arms and whispers loudly and spittley in my ear, “I love you Mommy” and gives me a high five, I know that I am the lucky one.

So would I do it all again. Yep. Are we nuts? Oh, even yesser, but that’s another issue. And if you ever want to meet a group of utterly amazing, underpaid, passionate people – find yourself some social workers.Or you can put out an ad for some. I'll help you with the paperwork.

xoxo Sally

*The possible/maybe/hypothetical kid in this story was just fine. In fact, he was thrilled to have the entire playground all to himself for 7 minutes. Well, except for the three responsible parents who stayed with him until the foster mom pulled her head out of her arse and realized she was missing something.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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