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Foster Parenting tip #4: Know your limits

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Where we’re from, foster parenting in the county is pretty isolating. Even our foster parent organization is clique-ish. We’ve been fumbling blindly through this journey. These tips are written in hopes that those considering foster parenting will be encouraged and that those currently fostering may know they’re not alone!

As always, if anything I say is inaccurate, or if you have other, better advice let me know. It’s not like I have a clue what I’m going!

This post was going to be about meeting the parents, but I’ve had something else on my mind lately, so Meet The Parents will appear next week, or later this week, or if I abandon this project all together, never.

On with it then, woman!

When Leo and I became an approved foster family, we were able to be as specific or as vague about what kind of kids we wanted. Leo and I weren’t looking for the perfect child, we were hoping to provide a home for those in need. Our only limits were severe medical needs (we have no experience and quite frankly, it scares me) and age. We wanted children four and under only.

I’ve had some critical comments from some  and sideways glances from many (namely those who do not foster) when they learn that that we only take little ones. To be honest, yeah, we do. But not so much because we only want to snuggle cute little babies and to hell with the big ones, as some would like to believe. We want to be responsible and we know our limits.

When we came into foster care, we had never been parents. At best, we were really awesome, but not so responsible aunt [Mon] and uncle [Leo]. In other words, not really equipped to raise children who have hurts bigger than we’ve ever seen, or who are able to put me in a half nelson.

I knew that for me to do this job well and to feel equipped, I needed to start small. I decided ages based on the time in life I could have responsibly had children of my own. Thus, the four and under party we have going on here. I imagine someday, I’ll be looking at the other under end of the spectrum: no one under 10, or 15, or not in college.

When we got Angelo and Bianca, there was some confusion about Angelo’s age. He was older than we thought and older than our limit. I knew going into this that kids older than four would be a struggle for me. When Angelo arrived, almost my size (not saying much) I tried. It wasn’t so much his size, but his mental capacity, his hurts, his likes… all things I knew I wasn’t ready for. Shortly after Angelo and Bianca moved, their new foster family backed out, too. This time it was Bianca. They wanted slightly older kids and a toddler was just not something they were able to handle. The mom had medical issues and Bianca’s needs were too much for her to handle. I get it. Except Bianca was a breeze for me. Both of us tried to make exception to the limits we had previously set and our abilities in effort to keep the kids together.

I know that our hearts were in the right place and I belive the other family’s was too. The problem was, we both knew our limits and caved in our desire to give these kids a home. Except, neither of us were able to provide that safe, long-term placement for these kids because we pushed what we’d already determined we could handle.

I get frequent calls for kids older than my limits, with bigger issues than my limits, bigger sibling groups than my limits. The county is not going to take the time to look at my file when they’re desperately looking for a home, asap. It’s my responsiblity to be honest and say no. And mean no. They may be frustrated at the moment, but they certainly understand and are usually quite gracious.

So, I encourage you all. Know your limits. Talk to your families. Talk to your case managers. Understand that what you know you can handle is the best for you and the children in your home. If you push yourself too far, you may be stressed and the kids may be hurt. No one wants that.

Angelo and Bianca are doing better now. I see their case worker when I’m at the office sometimes and she said that they’re with a family that was really excited to have them and is to handle their needs. They’re both resilient kids and are dong well. It doesn’t make me feel much better about what we put them through, but I am glad they’re settled now and that they have a home with a heart just for them.


About Monica

Christ following, husband loving, children hugging foster and adoptive mama.

2 responses »

  1. So many parents don’t know how to advocate for themselves, and I’m glad that you’re smart enough to make the right choices. With your big heart, it’s got to be hard to not rescue the world.

  2. Our foster parent Social Workers (the ones in our state who make the placement calls) assured us that we should never feel bad about saying NO or recognizing when it wasn’t a right fit, and that even when we say NO, not to worry, they are still going to call us again, and again and…Knowing that has helped us make healthy decisons. We ONLY fostered teens for the longest time and recently we shocked ourselves by saying YES to a medically needy infant (go figure!) and our lives have been changed in amazing ways because of knowing when to say YES.


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