Dear Newly Licensed Foster Parents, here’s something to think about...
I know you’re excited but hear me out. When starting this crazy journey of being a foster parent, I had these crazy ideas of how things were going to be with my first placement. The places we would go, the things we would see and how much fun having a child 24/7 would be. I was so anxious to receive a call for my first placement! Often wondering, what’s taking so long for my agency to call? They said there was a great need for foster homes, why is my home still empty?! What, my home isn’t good enough? Where are the children? I had to take a step back and say, “Barry, are you serious right now? Did you forget how you felt going from home to home? Did you forget how you felt when you first arrived at your grandmothers house, a person you didn’t know or have a relationship with?” In that moment, I realized the reality of the situation that I had purposefully signed up for was nothing to be excited about. Anxious maybe, but not excited. It dawned on me, there’s a child that will be showing up my door that will be emotionally hurt, maybe even physically hurt. I’m excited about that? I’m excited a child wasn’t safe in a place they were supposed to call home?
In my opinion, we as foster parents shouldn’t rush the process of having placements. Do we not realize what we are hoping to happen? Here’s the bigger picture I would like you to think about, in order for foster parents to have a placement that means a family must be broken apart. Is that what we want? Of course not, at least I hope not. I know, usually children are placed in foster care to be kept safe, but in order for a child to be placed, more then likely they would have to suffer some trauma first, is that what we’re excited for? Is that what we are hoping for? Do we not understand what we are asking for when we call our workers to ask about receiving a placement?
What about when a child comes from a different foster home? A failed placement in fostercare terms. What do we think as foster parents then? Hopefully, you’re thinking about how this more trauma to the child. Here’s a little advice I’m going to slip in, try to figure out what went wrong with the last placement and try to parent a little differently. This could definitely improve your chances of having a failed placement, at times you may have to step outside your own comfort zone in other to parent your new foster placement.
I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t be happy about becoming a foster parent, you totally should be, but wondering why you don’t have placements or calling your social workers to ask why is something to reconsider. Personally, what I needed to tell myself, if I didn’t have any placements that must mean there are not a lot children in care at the moment. One less family is broken, one less traumatized child in the system that at times doesn’t work properly to serve their needs. Taking all of that into consideration, I’d gladly have an empty home. Be patient with your journey as a foster parent and if you don’t have any placements, congratulations.