Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thoughts on LJ and Foster Care


I get a lot of questions about how Foster Care is going. How long LJ will be with us. "What's his story?" Unfortunately due to confidences we aren't allowed to share. I know that this is no news to anyone. I'm not even allowed to put a picture of his face for you all to see. (Very understandable.) So, I decided I would make this post for all of the "Hoping to Adopt" couples and people even contemplating doing Foster Care. I hope to be extremely candid and answer any and all questions and let you know the nitty gritty of what I have felt the last two months...and surprisingly where I am at in this stage of the game.

LJ has been with us for two months now. We have been on a roller coaster ride where his case is concerned. He came to us on a "Foster Only" basis. Meaning, he was on intensive reunification with his mother. He was seeing her three times a week at that point. Somewhere along the way that grew to four times a week and is now down to one time a week (sorta). We have been told so many different things concerning him, we just say whatever to it all now and just love him and give him all he needs while he is here with us.

My biggest problem with the whole thing is that I felt a little "tricked" into taking him. This is nothing against little LJ but against the system itself. He had been in a shelter home (emergency home) for 50 days. When they called us (specifically knowing we only wanted to take a child 12 months and younger) they told us he was 18 months old. What is another 6 months right? Well, in terms of children who have not had the best was a lot! Plus, since he was considered "foster only" (I'll explain why later) we couldn't even read his file which would have said specifically WHAT he had been through in his short life. So...we have a few hours to decide. In our crazy state and our big hearts we say YES! Well, he comes to us and he is 22 months old. YES, 22 months. That is, TWO years old. We find out that he is considered Foster Only because they couldn't find a home for him because of his intensive reunify status. And all of the Shelter Homes were FULL so they needed him out. Isn't the system LOVERLY?

So, you all know what happened less than 24 hours after he came to us right? So naturally I wasn't in THE best state a foster parent could be in. So really, that same week (I am ashamed to admit) we asked to have them find another family for him. I was a wreck. My kids were a wrech...and poor LJ didn't need to be in a home where another mother was a wreck. It was all just TOO much to handle. Remember I said our hearts are big? Well that is why he is still here. Somehow or another we pushed through all the shiz and here we are two months later, because seriously he was supposed to go live with grandparents, then with Mom. Now, hopefully in the next few weeks he can go back to be with mom. He has been in the system for almost six months. They give parents AT LEAST eight to get it together to have their children back. SO, either in the next few weeks he will be back with her, or they will screen him for "legal risk" which means they will screen families (including ours) and find the best possible fit for him...which means he may be able to be adopted by a family.

In our hearts, we honestly and completely feel he is meant for another family. We have never felt an overwhelming impression that he would be here for a very long time. But if it becomes necessary, we will have the dice thrown in our wherever the cookie crumbles...if he is to stay here we will keep him forever...if not and there is a better and more eternal placement for him, the state will find it. Hope that makes sense.

I think Foster Care is a wonderful avenue for those searching to add to their family. It is not easy, but it is doable. We have learned to love more fully and more unconditionally. We have learned that sometimes there is MORE out there to give of ourselves than we realize. My advice would be to stick with what you are comfortable with. If you don't think you could foster an older child, then don't. It isn't fair to them and not fair to yourself if you feel like it isn't something you can do. Also, don't be afraid to say "no". Like most things in life, if you get the gut feeling that you shouldn't do it, then more than likely you shouldn't do it!
LJ's birthday is next week. We are looking forward to being the lucky ones to celebrate it with him! ;)


Amanda said...

Thank you for being so candid about your feelings about foster care. I really appreciate it. I also think that you have a really BIG heart and a gift to love.

Holly said...

You have been going above and beyond. I know it can't be easy and I don't know if I could do it.

Marc and Megan said...

I really appreciated reading this post. I'm so amazed at how you've managed to handle so much all at once. A big heart seems like it would just be the beginning of what it would take.

We had looked into foster care for a while, but at the time we felt like we didn't know enough to jump into it. We may do so at some point in the future, and so it's really helpful to have the insight of someone else who already knows. Thank you!

Leisha said...

Lady, you are amazing. I know I always say it but "big heart" is an understatement. I have never met someone so loving, giving, selfless and humble I think in my entire life. I am honored to be your friend and have your example to learn from.

Tim and Ashlee said...

I think you're doing such an amazing job with LJ. He's been blessed to spend this time with your family.

Christal said...

Thanks for sharing that. You are seriously amazing I don't think I could do all you've done and do. I know I would grow to attached to the child and feel to much dislike for the system and the poor children who are neglected and passed around. Such sad stories. What a blessing you are to LJ he will be forever blessed having been around you guys!!

Arianne said...

your family is full of love and I know LJ has been able to feel that love the last 2 months! He is a lucky boy to be in your family during this time. The best of luck to him in his future. it is too bad his mom is so unstable!!

Heather said...

You are an amazing woman!! Thanks for the candid thoughts and shring your experience. It has alaways been something in the back of my mind to enter into the foster care system. I am so sorry that the timing and them "tricking" you had to be a part of it. I hope it all works out for you and your family!!

You are such a good person to take in little LJ. My hat's off to you!!

Leisha said...

Poor little man =( And I'm so sorry for your family being mislead. You are right when you say it's okay to say "no".

It is so hard to say no, but I always try to remember that the system is desperate for homes for these kids yet it's my job to make sure our family does what is best for us.

It's so hard though and you are doing a wonderful job. I admire you greatly!

mommyoffour said...

You are one amazing girl and have one amazing family. I sure hope that LJ's family loves you as much as I love you for taking care of him. I hope that makes sense.