Today I got a phone call from our Resource Family Consultant (the caseworker in charge of working with foster parents to place children in their home). He was asking me about a child who was a long-term placement possibility that needed a home as soon as possible. I grabbed a pen and sheet of paper and started taking notes as he informed me of things like:
-sex of the child, age of the child, reason for removal, if the case was headed towards adoption or reunification, how often visits with the child's birth parents would be and at which DCFS office, any previous histories the family has had with DCFS, any medical or behavioral issues with the child, if there are relatives who are possible kinship placements for the child, date of the next court hearing, etc.
Sometimes when I get "the call" our RFC doesn't have a lot of information because the case is still so new or the CPS investigation is just getting started. In this particular case, our caseworker actually had quite a bit of information on hand and I only had to ask a few clarifying questions for more information. After I felt I had enough information I told him I'd get a hold of my husband to talk things over and then get back to him as soon as possible.
As soon as possible- that's the crazy thing about fostering! You volunteer to take a child into your home at a moment's notice- most of the time not knowing if this child will be staying with you for just a week until they can be placed with relatives or for several months or keeping in mind the possibility that this child could become a part of your family permanently if things don't work out with their family. No pressure, right?
I immediately called my husband, eager to pass on the information to him and get his feelings on the matter. Of course I wasn't able to get a hold of him right away which just made me more antsy! In the meantime, I was mentally planning which bedroom this child would sleep in, how I would work out carpool schedule for transporting them to their school, which days would work best for taking them to weekly visits and doctors appointments, etc.
Eventually I did get a hold of my husband and he gave me his input after I passed on what I knew about the case. I contacted our RFC with another concern/question which was answered and then talked it over once again with my husband.
An hour and five minutes after first answering the phone about a possible placement I called our RFC back and hesitantly told him "No." And I felt guilty of course- and a little let down from the previous hour's adrenaline rush and possibilities. Of course, our caseworker was fine with my answer which he needed right away so that he could move on and find another foster family.
It's not that I can't say "no" to potential foster placements- [cue Ado Annie's I'm Just A Girl Who Cain't Say No for any musical theater fans out there] it's just that sometimes it's so hard to know that there is a child out there who needs a safe and loving home and we have the room but we have to turn them away. I have said "no" before to placements for various reasons:
-The timing isn't good for our family. (It's not that anytime is a necessarily "convenient" time to have a foster child placed in your home, but sometimes life can be extra hectic and adding one more major change would not be wise)
-The decision isn't unanimous. I may feel alright about saying yes to a placement, but if my husband doesn't agree then I need to respect that the same as he would respect if I said "no" even if he felt good about a placement.
-It just doesn't feel "right". This reason is hard to explain because it's not logical- it's just a gut feeling that, for whatever reason, this placement just doesn't feel right for our family.
-Sometimes we need time to focus on our own children's needs before bringing in any additional children into our home. I would hate to risk somehow neglecting or overlooking the needs or desires of my own children by focusing so much on someone else's child. What if one of my children became resentful? Most of the time our oldest daughter is just fine or even excited about the prospect of taking another foster placement but each child in a family will have differing perspectives.
-There might be a behavior in a potential foster placement that could clash with the needs or safety of our own children. Pretty self-explanatory.
So, as you can see, there are valid reasons for saying "no" to foster placements. But it still doesn't make it easier! My husband is always quick to remind me that if we say "no" there are other families available and that I can't "save them all" (his words). I also know, deep down, that saying "no" is better than saying "yes" if it could result in a disrupted placement.
Speaking of having a hard time saying "No"- I'm just curious to see if there are any other foster parents/carers out there who happen to be ISFJ's based on Myers Briggs personality inventory. If so, these traits might seem familiar: