We have all heard that one story about the horrible foster parents that did horrible things to their foster child. A child that is already marginalized and at risk, who already believes that bad things are supposed to happen to them. We all think “how could that person do those things?”. We talk about it over a glass of wine with our friends and shake our heads in disgust.
Here is what you have not heard about.
- The family that specializes in taking in drug affected newborns. They rehabilitate the kids and actively work with the parents to help teach them and understand how important this little life is. The love theses kids FIERCELY and advocate for them both medically and within the system. They have five other kids and they still NEVER leave a child alone in the hospital. They also reach out to other foster families to make sure they have what they need to be successful with their kiddos and recruit new families that are so badly needed.
- The foster family that takes in a sibling set of three kiddos at 2 in the morning when their home is already full because they cant stand the idea of these kids getting separated.
- The foster mom who spends all day every day transporting a medically needy child to and from not only doctors appointments but also bio mom visits, bio dad visits, sibling visits and therapy because there are not any qualified state transporters and she can not fathom putting that child at risk.
- The family that specializes in complicated boys. Boys who have had horrible and unspeakable things happen to them. They act out. A lot. And when you hear their histories you understand why and know that what they do is not only justified but completely minimal compared to the traumas they have endured. You hear their pain and it weighs on your heart. Then you rehabilitate these boys. You teach them that they deserve more and you are patient with them no matter how many times they get sent home from school or how many times you need to replace your dishes. Because they know theses kids DESERVE it.
- The Foster Home that works in everyway possible to maintain positive contact between the kiddos and their families. They write journals with the families that get exchanged at visits, they send pictures and take notes during parent teacher conferences. When allowed they send text messages to help bio parents coordinate health care appointments. If reunification isn’t possible they offer open adoption agreements because they know that there are no “winners” in these situations.
- The Foster Mom who coordinates support groups for Foster Families and advocates for the foster families with the department to make sure they are supported and appreciated.
- You certainly don’t hear the story about the Foster Dad who puts his career on hold to dedicate himself to the kids in care and strive against every stereotype thrown in his way. He loves these kids and feels as protective as any mother. He shows kids what it means to be a leader and a gentleman. He teaches them that boys are important too and worms are cool, not gross.
- The social worker who goes home and cries every night because she knows her hands are tied by limited resources and severe shortage of foster homes to place kids that need to be removed from parental care. She cries because she remembers the kids she has lost, the families that are torn apart and the kids who needed more.
If you doubt the modern day super hero exists you need to meet the people who are quietly at work doing amazing things to make the world a better place one day at a time. You cant help everyone but everyone can help someone.
If you are even just curious about foster care, look into it. Google your state and foster care. Send an email, make a phone call. Is it hard work? Yes. Will you feel unappreciated? Yes. Then why do it? Because at the end of the day, our shoulders are broad enough to carry the burden that no child ever should.