I'm Not As Good As People Think

Foster care is something I never blog about. To be honest, besides the kids, I don't have many positive things to say about it. But right now I'm feeling burned out. Really burned out.

When people hear we're foster parents, they usually say what a wonderful thing it is we do and we are amazing (or fill in adjective here) people. The truth is, we're not. Sure we're on our tenth baby, we've adopted one, we go to court when there's court, we're super friendly to the meanest of bio parents and we love the kids unconditionally. But we don't do all of that out of the kindess of our hearts. We do it because we want to adopt.

Obviously we love our five year old. We've had him since he was three months old and he is the love of our lives. But we went through three and a half years of hell before it was decided last minute that we could adopt him. Three and a half years of waiting, wondering, crying and praying. I know there are many other foster parents out there who have waited much longer, only to have the kid returned to the bio parents. And my heart breaks for them. I feel like I would have died if that would have happened to our son, and it certainly could have.

I am in love with the four month old we have now. We have no idea what will happen with him. I was frustrated in the middle of the night when he had me up for two hours. He wasn't hungry, he was dry and he was happy and laughing. The last two things were not what I was up for at three a.m. By five, I was in tears. I was mad that I've taken care of ten babies in the middle of the night like that and only adopted one. I was angry that this is what I have to go through to have children. Young, unfit, irresponsible mothers pop these kids out one right after the other, and I'm forty years old and exhausted and crying because I'm taking care of them for the parents without an inkling of an idea of whether or not we'll have them a month from now.

I've always wanted a big family...four or five kids. But I am so tired of taking care of babies. My husband refuses any child over the age of one, and I'm starting to believe I don't want any more babies. That means we'll be done with fostering, which is sad. I didn't want our son growing up an only child.

And if it's not the sheer exhaustion of getting up all night that's doing me in, it's the system itself. It is a sad but well-known fact that nowhere in the law does it say they do what's in the best interest of the child. This was pointed out to us by a family law attorney. The bio parents are given chance after chance after chance for years. Meanwhile their child is lingering in the system, becoming attached to another family, and has a life.

I'm not saying all kids should be left in foster care to be adopted. I want bio parents to get their act together, clean up and be responsible enough to get their kids back. But if they can't do that in six or nine months (not three years!), then they should lose their rights. You either want your kids enough to straighten up or you don't. And if you can't get clean, then for God sakes, do the right thing and surrender your rights or find a suitable relative to step in.

And I won't even start on the judge(s) who is so pro-bio parent that when the parents actually want to surrender their rights, the judge refuses. Yes, this has happened numerous times in our county, forcing the bio parents and foster parents to hire their own lawyers and do it themselves. It's also the same judge who has sent a child back to a completely unfit bio parent and the parent drowned him in a bathtub.

Out of the ten kids we've had, only one has gone back to a parent. One. I was told recently by a foster care worker that more and more foster parents are quitting because of the system. And I feel bad saying we're probably going to be one of them.
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Tuesday

I'm Not As Good As People Think

Foster care is something I never blog about. To be honest, besides the kids, I don't have many positive things to say about it. But right now I'm feeling burned out. Really burned out.

When people hear we're foster parents, they usually say what a wonderful thing it is we do and we are amazing (or fill in adjective here) people. The truth is, we're not. Sure we're on our tenth baby, we've adopted one, we go to court when there's court, we're super friendly to the meanest of bio parents and we love the kids unconditionally. But we don't do all of that out of the kindess of our hearts. We do it because we want to adopt.

Obviously we love our five year old. We've had him since he was three months old and he is the love of our lives. But we went through three and a half years of hell before it was decided last minute that we could adopt him. Three and a half years of waiting, wondering, crying and praying. I know there are many other foster parents out there who have waited much longer, only to have the kid returned to the bio parents. And my heart breaks for them. I feel like I would have died if that would have happened to our son, and it certainly could have.

I am in love with the four month old we have now. We have no idea what will happen with him. I was frustrated in the middle of the night when he had me up for two hours. He wasn't hungry, he was dry and he was happy and laughing. The last two things were not what I was up for at three a.m. By five, I was in tears. I was mad that I've taken care of ten babies in the middle of the night like that and only adopted one. I was angry that this is what I have to go through to have children. Young, unfit, irresponsible mothers pop these kids out one right after the other, and I'm forty years old and exhausted and crying because I'm taking care of them for the parents without an inkling of an idea of whether or not we'll have them a month from now.

I've always wanted a big family...four or five kids. But I am so tired of taking care of babies. My husband refuses any child over the age of one, and I'm starting to believe I don't want any more babies. That means we'll be done with fostering, which is sad. I didn't want our son growing up an only child.

And if it's not the sheer exhaustion of getting up all night that's doing me in, it's the system itself. It is a sad but well-known fact that nowhere in the law does it say they do what's in the best interest of the child. This was pointed out to us by a family law attorney. The bio parents are given chance after chance after chance for years. Meanwhile their child is lingering in the system, becoming attached to another family, and has a life.

I'm not saying all kids should be left in foster care to be adopted. I want bio parents to get their act together, clean up and be responsible enough to get their kids back. But if they can't do that in six or nine months (not three years!), then they should lose their rights. You either want your kids enough to straighten up or you don't. And if you can't get clean, then for God sakes, do the right thing and surrender your rights or find a suitable relative to step in.

And I won't even start on the judge(s) who is so pro-bio parent that when the parents actually want to surrender their rights, the judge refuses. Yes, this has happened numerous times in our county, forcing the bio parents and foster parents to hire their own lawyers and do it themselves. It's also the same judge who has sent a child back to a completely unfit bio parent and the parent drowned him in a bathtub.

Out of the ten kids we've had, only one has gone back to a parent. One. I was told recently by a foster care worker that more and more foster parents are quitting because of the system. And I feel bad saying we're probably going to be one of them.
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