Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Effects of Fostering on Children

I have been getting asked a lot of questions about foster care and being a foster parent.  That makes me happy that people are curious enough to even ask questions.  But I have gotten a few not so supportive comments.  Especially with Buddy going home this past weekend the comments have been coming about why I would expose my children to foster care?

The question has arisen about my children getting emotionally attached and hurt by foster children coming into and out of our home.  It has been said that the effects on my children outweigh the benefits for the foster children.

First let me say that we explain everything about foster care to our children.  They knew that Buddy was going to be with us for a short time.  It ended up being 7 months.  Which was in line with what the agency had told us.  They had fun playing with him, got very frustrated with him at times, and now miss him at times.  But they knew he was going to his mom.  They saw the excitement he would have when he would get to visit her.  They were there with him at night when he would cry wishing to be staying the night with his mom again.  They would ask him how much fun he had on his visits with his mom.  They got it.  They get it.

Kids get it better than we do.

My kids would be very upset if Little Lady were to leave our house.  We all would.  She is our family.  Period.  We don’t see her as a foster kid.  We are reminded constantly that she is by birth mom visits, meetings, and paperwork, though.  At night Cole will pray that we get to adopt her.  She is their baby sister, not their foster sister. 

So my kids are emotionally attached.  They miss their playmate in Buddy, but they are happy that he is happy with his mom.  Cole said he would be sad if he couldn’t get to live with me.  See?  They get it.

line of kids

As far as not “subjecting them” to something as powerful and helpful as foster care, well sorry we have a difference of opinion. 

Do you let your kids help you pick out presents and wrap them for the Angel Tree at Christmas time?  Do you let your kids donate food for the hungry? 

Is it different if they actually see the faces of the afflicted they are helping?  Would you take your kids to volunteer with you at a soup kitchen?  Would you take your kids with you on a mission trip?

If you knew your kids would be safe, wouldn’t you want to teach them about the problems of our world and how they can make a difference?

The first night Buddy was in our home he could not sleep.  He just kept saying “This isn’t my bed. I can’t sleep here.  This isn’t my house.”  Cole climbed down from the top bunk and told Buddy that he could come up to his bed and sleep with him if it would make him feel better.  That is a child learning to touch a life and make it better. 

Now Buddy wasn’t missing his birth mom and her house.  Buddy was missing the foster family he had lived with for a year.  Turns out some things were gong on there that put the well being and safety of the children in question.  I was not privilege to the details.  I just know a judge ordered that all of the foster children be removed from the home. 

Foster care is a broken system.  Foster homes can be just as bad or worse than the original homes the children were removed from.  I know my home isn’t one of those.  I know that 2 foster kids are safe within my walls.  They get love, support, nurturing, and structure.

Exposing my kids to that isn’t bad, just different.  I hope they grow up stronger and more giving because of it. 

Head over to Things I Can’t Say for more Pour Your Heart Out.

34 comments:

  1. I love that you do this and, of course your kids get it!!! I can somewhat relate to people judging like that since I adopted my daughter from Guatemala as a single mom. I think that some people don't want to be fully honest with their kids or let them experience the good if there is any negative feelings possibly associated with whatever situation (like fostering or adopting). It teaches your kids sooo many great things to live with foster kids. I really wish that more foster families were like yours and that we didn't have the broken foster care system that we have. Those poor kids have a hard enough time without being able to count on the second in line for quality care/safety.

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  2. Wow, I really admire that you foster kids. I agree that it is so great for your kids to see you sharing the love around.

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  3. There will always be supporters and those who aren't as supportive. I find that too with adoption. Your goal to help shape your children's desire and motivation to make a difference in the world is inspiring.

    I'm trying to do that by having my daughters do a 52 Weeks of Giving program as part of homeschooling. Each week we do a different volunteer/donation project that I pick out for them to do. It's been interesting to see the impact it has had on them during the past year.

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  4. I struggle with where to begin on your post. It is so heartfelt and true. We have never done true foster care - although we wanted to but due to red tape with the state we had to choose adopt or foster. Why they don't allow people to do both is beyond me. But we have adopted three children through the state and did have a fourth child for a short period of time. All three are special needs children and truly take every bit of energy a human being could possibly have. But, would I have done anything differently? Not a chance. The youngest is not mine by birth but I am 100% convinced she came along as my grandmother re-incarnated! And she is quite prophetic. With their special needs I cannot imagine what would have happened to them in a home that cannot provide for their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. My husband and I are not perfect - wish we were - and I know we make some mistakes. There is no perfect with kids but with kids from these types of backgrounds the "rules" of life can change daily and you need to remember it is all about helping them. I could go on and on as this is quite an emotional topic. One last thing - each child was a high risk adoption. One fell through but we did end up adopting three. High risk adoptions are emotionally draining - but someone needs to be there for these kids. Someone needs to hold their lives together and it can't always be someone elses problem. They have such unique issues but they can provide more love than you can possibly imagine in return. Many times they are well aware that you have truly saved their lives.

    I had to post this anonymously because I kept getting booted out of the post. But I am Athena from www.thestuffofsuccess.com - you are doing a phenomenal job and whoever is giving negative feedback must not ever been in need or had someone close to them desperately in need.

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  5. I loved your post, and I loved Athena's comment. You put your heart for fostering and those kids into words so well. I'm sorry you have gotten some negative comments about fostering. Some people just like to hear their own voice rather than listen to other sides. One of my best friends through school grew up with foster kids in her home all the time. While we've lost touch now, I know that it didn't make her a messed up person, but it did make her a compassionate person. That whole family is compassionate. It takes all kinds to make the world go round. Even the nutsos. :)

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  6. I have tears in my eyes reading your post Kim (I am kind of sappy) ;). I think what you and your family are doing an amazing, wonderful thing and you all have beautiful hearts. I think what you are teaching Cole and Charley is priceless. Thank you for opening your home and your hearts to these precious children and giving them a safe happy place to grow and feel love.

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  7. We are foster parents also! One thing you said was, there are good and bad foster homes... never a truer statement, unfortunately. Some of our greatest challenges have been the repercussions of dealing with inferior parenting from other foster homes. We have had to report two of the homes, and sad to say, nothing was ever done... so, moving on... I have to agree, the experience it has been for our bio kiddos has been priceless. They have gained a perspective into the deep needs in all human beings that some will never get to acquire. Has it been hard for them at times, most defintely. But, the tools that my children will take into adulthood are of such a great worth to them. It is my heart-felt belief that our charitable, loving-kindess toward others is secondly for their benefit, and firstly for ours. I am grateful that destiny has led us to this path of sacrifice and service... it has and continues to change us all...
    namaste

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  8. As a fost-adopt mom myself, this post really hits home. We plan to foster when our kids are a bit older. (Our youngest is 1 and we just can't handle more kids right now.)

    Thank you for your honesty, your bravery, and your service to foster kids!

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  9. If your foster kids can even get one night (much less 7 months) of a loving house, then it is totally worth it!!! I dated a foster kid (seems like forever ago) that was passed around in the system and some of the stories were beyond horrible!!! Keep doing the AMAZING job you are doing and I hope you get lots more kids to show what love is!!!

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  10. I wish I had the hear and ability to foster, but I"m not up for it emotionally. I'm so impressed with people who can do it, take the child in and love on them knowing it's only for a short time. Maybe someday I will, I'd love to be a foster parent someday, but not yet, and when I do I'll teach my kids like you do.

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  11. Wow. I am actually surprised that there are people who think you shouldn't "expose your kids to foster care." That you're hurting your own children in some way when you foster. If you are a good foster parent (and obviously you're a great one!) than I think it's a win-win for all the kids involved.
    I admire and applaud you and all who provide loving homes to foster kids. I'd love to be a foster parent too. Gotta keep working on my huz on that.

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  12. I have no experience in foster care, but I fully support you and pray for you. You're doing wonderful work!

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  13. Kim, I get it. I think you are doing an amazing thing! My grandmother ALWAYS had foster kids and foreign exchange students in her house. It was amazing and inspiring. She had always felt called to do it. We need more people like you and her!

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  14. People will find ways to question everything, won't they?

    I think you are teaching your kids to have compassionate hearts.

    And kids are so incredibly flexible. They roll with changes- I would think that would easily extend to having other kids in the house.

    I do pray that Little Lady is with you for good, though.

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  15. This is a fantastic post..... I feel a strong calling to be involved in adoption and foster care. Three of our children joined our family through adoption. But I have always shied away from foster care for precisely the things you discuss- the affect on the children already in your home, the broken foster care system that allows other poor parenting to continue to occur in foster homes.

    Thanks for giving me another perspective of what it looks like from the inside.

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  16. Keep up the great work that you do through fostering! Not only are you providing a loving, safe home for children who deserve nothing less, you are also providing your own children with a fantastic opportunity to learn empathy. Which is a lesson far too many do not learn in today's world.

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  17. Like a lot of the other comments said above, I commend you for opening up your home as a foster parent. I have waffled back and forth about doing this in our home and I'm not sure if I have the courage and strength to do it. I think it is wonderful that you and your family do. Thank you!

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  18. Exposing your children to the wonderful results of helping others can't be wrong. They are learning compassion, empathy, and tolerance. Those are all traits we hope our children have. I commend all of you for a job well done.

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  19. This was a wonderful post. I'm sorry you are getting negative feedback on your fostering. Your children are learning valuable lessons every day, not because of the a foster child leaves your home, but because of the example you and your husband give them. Not everyone has the heart to foster and, as you point out, not everyone who fosters is in it for the right reasons. But the benefits to the children who are fostered in a positive, supportive environment are beyond measure. You go, girl!

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  20. Thank you for writing this. And there is no doubt that what you are doing is positive for every person involved.

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  21. You're awesome! This post tugged at my heart for more than one reason. 1. How are people so judgmental? I will never know. 2. The fact that you are a safe and loving home for children that other wise would not recieve that is amazing! I agree 100% that your kids are blessed by this experience. What a way to teach them to help others! Such an amazing sacrifice!

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  22. Very powerful post and very inspiring. I look up to you. Sounds like your a great mom and have wonderful children. Thanks for sharing.

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  23. It amazes me how much fear and doubt people live in. If God calls a family to Foster or move across the country then He will protect them. Is it always easy? No way. But man is it worth it!! Your kids will grow to be grounded and compassionate no doubt. And make many friends along the way :)

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  24. I believe you are one of the angels that live among us, that u are being the "change we wish to see in the world" and that is such a fantastic thing. How could anyone think Less of that? I am envious of the love u give out...of the power your good has to change all of us. Wow...that story you told made my eyes well...and that picture. Oh my ..my heart is so full after reading this.

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  25. Well said. Period.

    PS. You are amazing!

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  26. My husband and I don't have any children. We are considering opening our heart and home to foster children. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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  27. I have been wanting to comment on this post since you wrote it...Finally, I have the chance...
    JESUS would never stop to do the will of HIS FATHER because of how people felt, reacted or their emotional stage...We are to be an example of CHRIST at all times...Kim, I wish I could come where you are right now and kiss you for what you posted!! People shelter their children from things THEY feel might hurt them...When in turn, fostering/adopting opens our child's eyes to see like JESUS sees and feels...We should be teaching our kids to be CHRIST-like no matter what age...The younger the better...Look what kids experienced and saw back when the Bible was written...Thank you so much for this post...I'm going to try and figure out how to post this on my blog for all to see...Your doing an amazing job of glorifying our LORD JESUS!!! Praising HIM for our blog friendship!! :)
    Denise

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  28. I think your perspective is right on target. What a wonderful way to teach your children to live in this world. You aren't paying lip service to those in need or blindly donating money. You are doing the real work to make a difference, which is so much harder...and so much more fulfilling. You teach by example and your children will learn so much about love and compassion. Blessings to you and your WHOLE family!
    ;)

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  29. I am amazed at the thoughts and words of people. You are being an example of the hands and feet of Jesus. This is what love is.... action... doing something. This time in your home and countless other foster families is sometimes the only Jesus these kids will ever see. Praise Jesus that you are willing to listen and obey the Lord. Not to mention, the countless love that you get back from the children.
    Keep it up. God is using you.

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  30. Thank you so much for this post, I just stumbled across your blog and will definitely be bookmarking it. We're eagerly looking forward to adopting through foster care and have 2 bio sons already. We've gotten similar comments, that we shouldn't adopt from foster care because we need to put our 'real' kids first and 'those' kids have problems. Ugh, that attitude just breaks my heart both because they're insinuating that we don't love our current children enough to keep them safe and that the children in foster care are beyond help, damaged goods. In no way will it be easy, but a good life isn't necessarily easy.

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  31. This is wonderful - I have 3 children and would love to be a foster parent someday & possibly even adopt through the foster system, and I'm so glad to read your perspective on the positive effects of fostering on your biological children. It is very surprising to me, but very common when I mention casually to someone that I'd like to adopt someday, so many people have stories or comments that are negative! So it's refreshing to read a positive perspective, especially from someone who is in the trenches.

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  32. Just found your post today as I am searching my heart for the answer to these questions. We fostered for 2 years before becoming pregnant, our daughter is now 18m old and we've been aching to begin fostering again for some time. Your post above mostly addresses children who are old enough to be verbal and respond to some amount of logical explanation. Our little one will first be adjusting to not being an only child and then eventually adjusting to having those children leave her life without understanding at first the sometimes short term nature of fostering. What are your thoughts/advice on preparing her and helping her to understand this process and (one day) love this opportunity to serve God as much as we do? We are considering both emergency and traditional fostering, do you have thoughts on why one might be better for her sake than the other?
    Thanks so much, so glad I found your blog :)

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  33. 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.
    Thanks a lot. Please visit our website to know details.
    http://www.funforfosters.org/

    ReplyDelete
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