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


  1. ha ha ha.....I still have my foster license...because I'm thinking of doing fost/adopt again...just thinking of the number of visits and paperwork though is not as fun :)

  2. Oh my goodness, this is just AWESOME! And so freaking true, I spent a year in college working for one of those guardian ad litems and dealing with the gazillion pieces of paper (one of my main jobs was "filing") and social workers and hearings and state regulation bull coming out the wazoo.

    I also learned there are two types of foster homes, those that bring children into their family and those that run a mediocre live-in childcare center. You are most definitely the first, and so unbelievably awesome for it :-D

  3. Kudos to you and your husband for your courage and faith. We also went through the foster classes in hoping to adopt, and we got the bajeebies scared out of us. You're a rock star!

  4. I love this! I've been a fostermom to teenagers for the past 12 years and can SO relate! All I can say is "common sense ain't so common" when it comes to the system. My kids have taught me just as much as I've taught them. Whether they stay a weekend or years, any bond based on love is permanent.

  5. As an attorney for social services I can't help but note that you forgot to mention the middle of the night phone calls begging you to please take one more, just one more child, just for the weekend. Ony to show up with one child and the sibling you conveniently forgot to mention.

    And the times you get usbpoened to court only to sit there all day before you learn that little johnny's mom is in rehab and the case is being continued.....again.

    Or the visits you have to facilitate, only about half of which are actually attended by parents.

    Seriously, THANK YOU for all you do.

    1. I absolutely hate the visits I met my 11month old Foster son's Bio mom and let's just say were not too fond of each other took lil j to a visit and I met her for the first time. I spoke and said hello she looked at me and said hey with an attitude, I'm like if you were handling your business right you wouldn't be in this situation. My point is every visit your son is clean ,well dressed and happy!

  6. One of our family goals is to get into a situation (ie a big enough house) so we can foster. I've wanted to do this my whole life, and I love love love reading about foster families. Thanks!

  7. I wondered when the Foster Mom Enemies were going to be tackled. As a parent of one Bio child that we home school and now multiple foster kids we have a lot of domestic enemies. :)
    I think the worst comment someone said to me about a foster child was "Wow she is SO cute, she doesn't even look like white trash". Some people should be slapped in the face- with a flip flop- after said flip flop has stepped in dog poo.
    Great job and thanks for sharing!

  8. My eyes have been opened. I have a very good friend who became a foster mother and ended up adopting 4 beautiful children, you are strong women.

    As for the lucky comment, coming from someone who doesn't know as much about the system as I should, I believe most people who say that mean it as he's lucky to have found you. Of course it's tragic what he went through before, but too many precious lives are lost before they get the chance to get out. He's lucky to have such a wonderful mother now that loves him and cares for him like he deserves. And of course, you are lucky to have found such an amazing little man.

    God bless you and your family.

  9. I have two birth children, two we have adopted and two in foster placement with us (hoping to adopt soon). While I am usually oblivious to the comments, whispers, and stares of others because I'm trying to take care of six kids, my husband fields the other side. The things people assume are incredibly stupid. The things they voice out loud in public make you wonder when they had their lobotomy. I just tell him the kids are incredibly blessed to be with us and not with people like them... LOL

  10. As a foster Mom who adopted two amazing special needs kiddos I am so in love with this post! Thank you for this quote referencing the special needs question... "He sure does. BUT APPARENTLY YOU DO TOO." I will now be using it on all the future jackholes who ask me this. It's way more clever than what I was saying before! LMAO Love it!

  11. Sally, YOU ARE AWESOME!!! What an awesome story to share! Thank you for all you do! :)

  12. Amen! I can't even remember most of the dumb comments. I do remember though the doctor friend(I had been working in a hospital) who looked at the precious bundle in my arms and told me how sorry he felt for me because he "knew" we would never get to adopt her and she would "definitely" go back to her bio-mom. Even if that would have happened we would have had the change to love her so pfffttt (me sticking out tongue). Anyway! She is now 6 and bears our last name ppffftttt!!!

    And so true about the drug exposure. When she was being assessed at the hospital (every 6 months) the physical therapist had this puzzled look on her face that there had been no apparent side effect since the day we brought her home and could only say that is must be the excellent care (you betcha!). Off to read enemies of adoptive mom.

  13. OMG!! you are my new best friend!!! We have done foster care for about a year now and we are working on adopting the two most AWESOME kids EVER!! And I just LOVED the Asinine Comments section. " Would you still adopt them if you got pregnant??" WTF are you kidding me! UMMM even YYEESSEER! these are real children not merchandise you return. I could go on about the comments but im way to happy with our life to worry about what ppl say. What I love about foster care is that even if we only have a child for one day, thats one day of that childs life that he/she was loved and cared for. Thank you for all you do!

  14. OOO I have another one..."Why did they get taken away?" Ummm... one thats none of ur business and Two like you cant stop and think for 2 seconds about WHY they MIGHT have been removed? Go ahead us ur imagination! Its usually for all the obviouse reason.

  15. What a fantastic, humorous, and candid post. Indeed you've had quite the journey and it's great to share this journey with you through your writings/personal reflections. As for "lucky", well, I'd like to think that your entire family is just BLESSED! Blessed to have found each other in this journey we call life and blessed to laugh, cry, and be with one another. I hope you'll continue to educate and entertain us with your life/family happenings. The world has much to learn about what it is to LOVE.


  16. As an adult who was raised in a home with a brother adopted as an infant, another brother adopted from foster care, and at least 40 foster siblings in and out of the home throughout my life, I have to add another "Asinine Comment." My parents would often get questions about their "real" children - as if the others are plastic? I was so proud of my little brother, who at the age of 8, was asked by a classmate about his real mom. To which my brother replied, "This is my real mom." Thank you foster and adoptive parents for all that you do.

  17. I love that line "yes he has problems, but obviously so do you!"

  18. As a former foster care social worker (now i get to stay home with my 7 year old!!) we thank you for putting up with the chaos!!it is crazy and with my own little girl adopted out of the foster care system WOW! I had a clue about the stress stupid people and paperwork but man alive it is quite another thing to be on the other side of the fence. foster parents are awesome and it is hard to find good ones that love it and the kids as much as we do!!! thank you for all you do!

  19. Another foster care social worker -- thank you for both being the mom that so many children need AND for putting it into writing so that people understand the rewards and challenges. If only there were more like you............

  20. My cousin is a foster parent, and she has had to deal with people make comments about her having WIC, having too many kids (she was pregnant and had a 12 month old foster daughter, and a four year old foster son), and all sorts of rude comments that she chose to ignore rather than make her foster kids feel like they weren't hers.

  21. Love it, we are currently foster parents to 4, yes 4 foster children. They are all full siblings, so how could I NOT say yes to taking all of them. All of them have special needs, and yes I get that question all of the time! And we have an adopted son too, with his own set of needs. ALL Five children are between the ages of 3 to 7. Our house is freakin nuts!! Not to mention the 7 appointments I have to shuttle the kids to every week. Oh, and don't forget the OT I do with one of the kids for an hour at home each day. Okay enough of the "bad stuff" (I don't refer to it as that, they're just my kids and I do what they need) I truly love all of my kids with all of my heart. YES, we are going to adopt all four, and if I get anymore comments like, "really, you're going to adopt all of them???? Or the one from my Dad when I'm having a bad day... "Are you sure??"
    Dad, I could ask you if you were sure when all of us were born, but I'm not cruel, so I wont.

    I guess my point is, yes my kids are a pain in the butt sometimes, yes I seem to have a lot of bad days, yes I want to run screaming from the house somedays, but I wouldn't change my kids for anything. They are just that,
    MY KIDS!

  22. We adopted our son through foster care and this is so true. The people parading through the house, the stupid questions, the judgement - OH GOD THE JUDGEMENT! Leave my son alone! We had to fight biorelatives for custody after they were declared incompetent to care for him. it took us almost 2 years from the time we brought him him to finalize his adoption. It was hell (but at least I had my son!).

    And yes - we plan to do it all again.

  23. As a woman who grew up in the foster care system, I just have to say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! Thanks for having a heart so big that you could give some of it to kids that need it! I remember the asinine questions that my foster mom(I call her MOM) would get. This article made me smile. Foster parents give love to kids who many have never had it or are just understood. Let me tell you a foster parent may be in a child's life physically for a short or long time but they are forever in their heart!

  24. 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. www.rx247.net/ibuprofen.html

  25. Our mission is to brighten the lives of Foster Children all over the state of New Jersey.
    We do this in a lot of ways! For example…
    Right now we’re hosting a toy drive so foster children all over New Jersey will have plenty of presents under their tree.

  26. I appreciate your writing because you described really exclusive news. Thanks for sharing such an informative post.




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