Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Fost-Adopt Roller Coaster

There are two types of foster families:   1) Foster families provide a temporary home for children in foster care until they can be reunified with their birth families but they {usually} have no intent of adopting their foster children and 2) Foster-Adopt or Fost-Adopt families, provide a temporary home for children in foster care as well, but they also agree to adopt their foster children if things don’t work out with the child’s bio family and reunification isn’t an option. 

Our family is a fost-adopt family and if you’re a fost-adopt family, too, or if you follow along with my blog, then you know what an emotional roller coaster being a fost-adopt family can be- full of so many mixed and conflicting emotions.  I’ve learned to deal with most of the uncertainty by not getting my hopes up too high and remembering that the most important thing for me to do is to provide a good home for my foster children. Whether they stay with us for months or if they become a part of our family forever is always secondary to fulfilling their needs.
However, as much as I’d like to think that I keep a realistic attitude and an even keel it can be nearly impossible not to imagine the possibilities when you find out, for example, that your foster child’s mom or dad spent the weekend in jail, or has missed more than one visit or appointment in a row, or you learn that they got evicted from their apartment, or decided to move out of state, or that there are no possible kinship options.  I’ve encountered literally all of these scenarios. 

But just as you start getting your hopes up high and jumping to conclusions guess what happens the very next week (or in some cases, within a matter of days)?  Your foster child’s parent served their time (or got bailed out) and shows up early to the next visit and seems extra motivated and tells you about the new job or new place they got, which is one of the things required of them in their Service Plan- and when you look into their eyes and see the look on their face as they share their good news with you, you can’t help but be proud of them.  And you’re suddenly brought back to reality and think “Things are turning around.  People change.  Everyone deserves a second chance and this child- their child is going to go back.  Why do I ever torture myself with thoughts of adoption?”
Last week at a training I picked up a flyer entitled “Foster-Adopt Parents:  Challenges for Shared Parenting with Biological Parents” compiled in August 2012 by an LCSW by the name of Marty Hood.  I’ve never met Marty but wanted to give her credit for her work.  As I looked over the flyer I found myself nodding my head in agreement at so many of the points and thought “Yep- that about sums it up!”
I was also particularly touched and somewhat comforted by the quote at the bottom of the flyer since one of the most frustrating parts of helping to raise a child and then letting them go is that you very well may never get to see the “fruits of your labors”.   
You can count the seeds in an apple but you can’t count the apples in a seed.
Your influence may grow for generations to come.


Bekah said...

I so love that quote too! I think ALL foster parents (adopt or not) need to know this and be reminded of it often. Thanks for the post! :o)

Mary said...

Agreed, Bekah!

Penelope said...

Thanks thanks, Mary, for sharing this post! Foster care is definitely not for people with control issues. A foster parent is NEVER in control of any situation. We have to just go for the ride, however, bumpy it may be!!!

FootPrints said...

penelope hit it right on the nose! NOTHING is in our control. not visit times, not court dates, not medical issues...nothin! :(