Navigating the tough questions from your foster children
There is a lot of tough questions in foster care. Questions from the agency to get approved, questions from friends and family who don’t understand why you would put yourself through this, and most importantly questions from the kids in your care.
If you have been following my blog for a while you know that up until 4 months ago we had only had foster babies in our home. Babies who don’t ask questions. Foster care seemed easy. Then we got our boys, and the questions stemming from trauma and confusion started.
“When do I get to go home?”
“Why can’t I live with my mom?”
“Is my dad ever going to see me again?”
“Why can’t I play with my mom?
“Why didn’t my mom show up for my visit?”
“Does mommy still love me?”
“Are you my mom now?”
Nothing can really prepare you for these questions. Not your social workers, not the training you receive. Not even fellow foster parents who have been through this before.
When you have big blue eyes staring up at you, expecting you to solve all their problems and make their heart stop hurting, it seems like an impossible task.
The only thing I can do is drop to my knees in prayer and just hope that my answers will help them in some small way.
We talk about how loved they are by us and by their parents. That they deserve to be safe, and that their parents need some help. We let them know that our home is always a safe place to be when they feel scared. We talk about them begin able to go back home once the judge thinks it is safe.
We remind them we can write notes, and make phone calls when they are really missing their families. We look at pictures and read books about loving families. We tell them that we love them so much, and we will always be there to talk or give a hug.
These are questions we wish we didn’t have to answer, but unfortunately, it is all part of the territory. We only hope that they find some comfort in the inadequate answers we have to give.
The Family Court System
Family Court has oh so many flaws. Placing kids with family, or kin is always the push. No matter what. They say that it is in the best interest of the child, but many times this is not the case.
A foster mama friend of mine had a little girl from birth until after the age of 1. The parental rights were terminated and they put in a plan to adopt her. Everything seemed to be going in that direction until out of nowhere a much older aunt and uncle stepped in to adopt her. People that although were family did not see her once in that year. That did not want to foster her because they didn’t want to “deal” with the birth mom.
My friend put in all the hard stuff, dealt with missed visits and a baby that didn’t want to go to her birth mom because she basically ignored her. Then she had to pack up all her things and memories for the first year of her life and hand her over to complete strangers who, to be honest will probably be dead by the time she is 16. How does that seem “in the best interest of the child”
I know when possible family is best. But foster parents who want to adopt and have parented that child for most of their life can also be the best option. I don’t think there should be a preference because there is blood relation or familial relation.
The other thing about the court sytem is how backed up it is. Court gets adjourned for the smallest reasons all the time. Usually, the next date is atleast 2 months in advance. The kids sit in limbo that whole time. Which leads to more questions.
Explaining this to kids when the system doesn’t even make sense to most adults is just plain hard. Then their birth parent may tell them broken promises and give them false hope.
The foster parents are the ones left with the tough questions. The questions that are just too hard to answer.
If you are a foster parent trying to navigate these tough questions, just love that child hard. Make them feel like they are the most special child in the world. Be the light in their confused little brains. Its the only thing that helps.