I can definitely see why so many people give up on being foster parents. The process is really frustrating just to get started. We’ve been dealing with our agency for 6 months now and we still aren’t technically foster parents. What we are is a pre-adoptive home. Our social worker wrote us a few days ago to say we have graduated from her services and our next agency contact person will be the matching coordinator.
Though we have been talking for 2 months about her getting us on the list for foster children, we are still being steered towards pre-adoptive only. Maybe this is a sign. Perhaps they think that we have more to offer a child/ren that need a forever home? I don’t know. I have been holding on to this frustration for months now and yesterday C and I finally talked it out. What do we want to do? Our options are (1) force them to start referring foster children to us or (2) bide our time until we are matched with kids and take it from there.
Option 1 pros: we’d get more familiar with the foster care system, would get to use our parenting skills, offer a refuge for kids in crisis or need of caregivers
Option 1 cons: if we take in fosters and then get matched, we’d likely have to remove the fosters to make room, we might have several kids in and out which would disrupt our adult routines/jobs, we might really get fed up with the agency and quit altogether
Option 2 pros: we’ll have a better chance of being able to offer kids a forever home, less in and out of short term foster kids, less time with daily/weekly agency contact once kids are placed and eventually adopted
Option 2 cons: we could end up matching on paper but not in person and that would disrupt the kids, we might be waiting months or years to be matched, our kid rooms sit empty
Given all the pros and cons that we considered, we decided not to force the agency to place foster children with us for short term stays. If there is a child that needs care long term, we will take that one child. We would like to reserve our other rooms for children that we match with. We don’t want to disrupt a settled foster kid for our pre-adoptive kids. We also don’t want to deal with our employers being difficult about needed time off for various kids if they were coming and going frequently.
So, we wait. We will sit tight and wait for the matching coordinator to call and start the process of pairing us with available children who we might click with. Then we’ll wait some more, probably a long while, to get the call that there are children whose parental requirements match up with who we are. This is not the decision that we started this process with and I’m still sitting on it to be sure that I feel okay with it. I know that I have so much energy for parenting and would love to help children. The truth is that I can’t save them all and I need to take a different perspective on the situation. Waiting for pre-adoptive kids isn’t a bad thing.
I know there is a lot to be said for “foster to adopt” and I understand the intricate issues and delicate nature of the term and people’s feelings about families who build their family this way. I hope that folks won’t be too hard on us for waiting for the right child who doesn’t have parent options on the horizon. I think that any child could benefit from our open and loving home environment, not to mention our cute dogs. We aren’t going to take anyone’s children away from them and if we ended up with a failed match, we are okay with that. Time isn’t that important and though we aren’t getting younger, we aren’t worried about not having time with kids that are in our home.
This was a hard decision for me, harder than for C, I think. I’m going to try not to look into the kids rooms too often so that I don’t get that empty feeling of “why aren’t there kids here.”