Tag Archives: foster kids
What does chocolate cereal have to do with getting your kids out of foster care? It doesn’t specifically, it’s an analogy that was given to me by a therapist while in foster care to help me understand the situation with my parents and why we weren’t going home (much to me relief). Let’s say your feeding your child chocolate cereal and one day DFS comes in and takes your kids because chocolate cereal is bad for kids. Now you and I both know that while chocolate cereal may not be the healthiest choice isn’t going to kill them and they should be able to eat it. As a parent though, are you going to argue your point, say that chocolate cereal is not bad and you did nothing wrong, while your child is sitting in foster care? As a parent myself I would apologize and promise to never feed my kids chocolate cereal again so I could get them back. It’s not about if I’m right or wrong at that point, it’s about getting your kids back at home with you. At least it should be.
Some parents just can’t admit they were wrong. As with many problems, you must admit that you have a problem before you can fix it. Why? If you don’t think it was a problem then are you going to make sure it really happens again? Many people who get caught in something and don’t come to the realization they are wrong, then repeat the behavior, learning from getting caught only how to hide it better. That can be deadly in regards to child abuse. Also why maybe place a child into a situation where it may happen again? I wouldn’t bet a child’s well being just to give a parent a second chance without them showing that it’s not going to happen again.
Another thing I’ve seen is parents upset because they don’t like DFS agreeing or accepting their “lifestyle” or who’s in their lives. Too many parents chose drugs or partners over their children. If DFS doesn’t like your new boyfriend are you really going to argue that he’s not who DFS thinks he is off criminal records or bad behavior or do what it take to get back your kids? You’s think it would be an easy answer and it is, people just don’t always choose whats best for their kids. Obviously this doesn’t go for every parents with kids in foster care, but let’s be honest they make us the majority. How do you get your kids out of foster care? Accept your wrongs, make improvements and put your kids before you.
Being 26 years old I don’t think many people would think that I would have insight on fostering teenagers. I didn’t think I would have any insight into raising children let alone teenagers for a long time but things don’t ever go as you plan. At 24 I became a kinship foster parent to my 2 brothers who were 14 and 15 at the time. I get many different reactions when people find out my 2 brothers live with me. Since they’ve been here I’ve had that aha moment that hopefully a lot of parents of teenagers feel. I finally got the reason for the rules and the questioning. It’s different when you’re in foster care though. My time on both sides of the tables has taught me some things about fostering teenagers.
- They are going to be sneaky. Yes this is naturally a teenage thing but it can be worse with foster kids. Many times kids are taught to be sneaky to survive the situation they are in. That behavior is then carried on with them as they grow up. Teenagers that are unnaturally sneaky do so when they don’t even have to be, to some extent they can’t help themselves. I try to put it in a rational matter to them. “I find everything out eventually so your going to get in trouble. If you do it your asking to get in trouble, don’t do it if you don’t want to get in trouble”.
- You cannot feel sorry for them or let them feel sorry for themselves. It’s important to acknowledge the situation but they should use their past as a measuring stick. The harder you had it means you accomplished that much more when you make it. This is important because the world will not feel sorry for them. The bill collector doesn’t care what kind of childhood you had. You have to own it. As a foster kid you have to own it and realize you may have to work harder, so every dumb thing you do is only holding you back. That I know from experience.
- This is the reality of the situation…the only thing I must do is give adequate clothing food and shelter. Many people think this sounds harsh but sometimes if the action warrants a reality check so be it. Foster kids that have come into your home, whether kin or not, are not your kids. My brothers have come to live with me because their home situation wasn’t good. They could be at some other foster home (yes the reality is they are not all good places) , but instead they are (or should) be in a safe, caring and respectful living situation. Things should not be taken for granted and sometimes you have to teach appreciation. Privileges are earned and with good behavior come more freedom and privileges. Sometimes you have to remind ungrateful teenagers how things could be, then remind them that they don’t have it that way. You’re just trying to help them through a situation but they have to make the process go smooth by following the rules.
- Sometimes things you have to let things be a little tough for them so they can figure it out. It’s better they learn it under your wind then someone else’s. The lesson of networking is one of the biggest lessons that can be taught to assist them with their future. For example, let’s say their car breaks down or needs some work. They take it to the shop and it will be $500. Now what if they found the part they needed and know a person that works on cars to cut the cost? It’s not the point of getting the car fixed it’s about how you get it done. There will be situations that arise that they will need help. If they can’t fix it then they will need to figure out how to go about finding a way to get it fixed.
- You have to set down with teenagers and make a plan for their future. Not too many teens are thinking about their future, putting a plan together and taking steps to go towards it. You have to set a move out date for them or it may not happen. There has to be a little sense of urgency or there may be none. It goes back to the realty of the situation. They may have to work a little harder because of their situation but hopefully they have some support and the fact is, it is possible.
Too often people make excuses because of their past. Often they’ve made decisions that have gotten themselves into the situation they are in. I tell my brothers that it’s unfortunate that so many of the decisions that you make between the ages of 15 til about 25 majorly affect the majority of your life. That’s why as parents, especially foster parents have to push and sometimes drag teenage foster kids in the right direction. They may hate you at times, but if you do your part and they do their part, one day they will look back and not only thank you but be thankful for you.
One of the difficult things about being a foster kid is seeing the kids around you have things that you may not have or even have the opportunity to get. It could be a variety of things from cool clothes, new shoes, the latest video game or even having a pet. Some of it may have to do with the rules of where you’re staying or you don’t have parents to buy that stuff. I recognized early on that if I wanted those things then I had to go and get them for myself. I realized really quickly that I was going to have to work harder than most of my peers to get some of the things they had and to even be successful. I had to get a job, but getting a job isn’t the easiest thing to do as a foster kid.
First off there’s that foster care stigma that follows you. I lived in a small town, about 180 people, so new people are recognized quickly. My foster home was well known and everybody knew I was in foster care. You may live in a larger area or you may not look like a foster kid, but I’m sure it will come up at some point. Unfortunately many people negative preconceived ideas when it comes to foster kids. As an employer many think troubled kid, stealing, issues in life, not being reliable or not having a reliable ride. A couple of those may even be true. My first boss told me after I had worked there that she wouldn’t have hired me without the recommendation of the superintendent that I had gotten. She had preconceived ideas of the employee I would because I was a foster kid, and it wasn’t a good one.
Speaking those preconceived ideas of a foster kid, the not having a ride part can be a problem. It’s not easy to get your license as a foster kid and you must have money to buy a car. If you think about it the order of how you have to do things really works against you. Luckily I had a situation where I worked close and had someone to take me. Many kids don’t have this option. One thing you can learn in life really quick as a foster kid, most people you have to interact with in the real work world CAN’T care about your situation or that you’re in foster care. It’s bad for business. An employer isn’t going to keep you around if you continually can’t get to work on time just because you’re having foster kid problems.
It’s a good lesson to learn, but also a tough one. In life, foster kids are going to be babied. When that water bill comes in you can’t tell them your life story and get a pass. As a foster kid, if your want to be successful you may have to work a little harder than the next person. When you do get to that point where you’ve reached your success, it feels that much better looking back on where you came from.