I spent most of the first week of May doing public policy advocacy in Washington DC, something I have done for nearly a decade. Wow, was this year different! As I flew back to California, these four words resonated in my thoughts: Fear, Complacency, Conviction and Courage.
Welcome to our Blog! We post weekly articles written on a variety of topics from a variety of people, including our staff, volunteers, community members, and our parents and youth. The Voices of our Blog are opinion pieces, reflecting the diverse experiences and viewpoints of our community. These articles are not meant to represent the views of everyone at FCNI, our Board of Directors and staff, or present a definitive policy statement, but are designed to be informative and thought-provoking.
One of the most frequent concerns I hear from parents who are considering foster care or adoption is, “Will it be too hard on my kids?” There is certainly a fear of the unknown of how bringing a foster or adopted child into your lives will impact your current family. It is safe to say that adding a new family member to any family will change its current dynamics. This change is true if you add a new biological sibling, have a grandparent move in, remarry after divorce, or open your home to a foster or adoptive child.
Families are not static; they change frequently regardless of how much we wish we could keep them the same.
Many of us have a desire to open our lives to children in need of love and safety. It’s fun to dream of throwing open your front door to welcome an adorable foster child into the home. But becoming a Resource Parent is actually an intensive process that requires background checks, training, references, a home inspection, and what seems like an endless stack of paperwork. There are a lot of hoops to jump through before a child ends up on your doorstep. For many applicants, the most intimidating aspect of becoming a Resource Parent is the dreaded home study-- a comprehensive, written evaluation of the applicant’s strengths and issues. I know firsthand the scrutiny of inviting a stranger into my home to write about my life. Before I started writing home studies as a Social Worker, I was a foster parent! I’ve undergone five (FIVE!) home studies as a foster and adoptive parent in Indiana and California.
May is National Foster Care month, When I first became certified as a foster parent, I felt there was a negative stigma associated with foster parents and foster kids. There was regular press coverage about foster kids living in horrific situations with foster parents who loaded their houses up with kids so they could get more money. In some states, Social Workers didn’t visit homes for years because they could only respond to emergencies they knew about. I remember feeling so discouraged when another negative article would come out, because I felt that no one was telling the stories about the thousands of good, loving foster parents.
“Foster Care” has come a long way over the past couple of centuries and is yet experiencing another significant transformation. Foster care in the USA has its origins in English Poor Law, which basically allowed an abandoned or orphaned child to be forced into indentured servitude until they became of age. Kids basically became slaves for the individuals housing them. The argument in favor of this practice was that this arrangement provided children with the “basic skills they needed to survive in life.” America’s first foster child was Benjamin Eaton, age 7, in the Jamestown Colony.