A few readers have contacted me asking about fostering. I do NOT claim to know a whole lot about it. Here’s what I do know…
We started out as a fictitious kinship foster. What that means is someone gave us a 1 year old that we are not biologically related to. We knew nothing about the system, the process or our rights. Basically, the government views anyone who takes a child in a glorified babysitter (and sometimes not even glorified) until you have had that child for six consecutive months.
Some of our friends encouraged us to go ahead and sign up to foster “officially”. Well, what that really means is a series of paperwork, background checks, inspections, etc. In order to foster, you must have your home setup as a licensed home. Meaning, not only do you have to pass through a process but you must open your home to the state(Family and Protective Services), the county (health and fire inspections) and your agency. You must also take several classes. The process can technically take less than two months but it took us several months. During the process we bought a house. So rather than get our apartment licensed and then have to pay for all the inspections again with our house, we waited and just had our house done. It seemed to take us forever.
I do suggest that you choose a good agency to work with. We work though an agency here in Texas that is statewide and Christian based. This works well for us.
There are some choices you get to make like what age children you want to foster. I had not thought a whole lot about this until some of the classes our agency offered. They had many warnings regarding protecting our family why fostering. Statistics show that children who have been molested (no matter what age) will often offend against other children in the home. In which case you may prefer to foster younger children. Since our boy isn’t a super assertive child and as far as we are concerned he has been an only child, I didn’t want to foster anyone older than him. Thank God, some people do not mind taking on the harder cases.
If you are considering fostering “for the money”, forget it. It doesn’t pay well enough to be worth all the paperwork that is required. And God forbid someone gets hurt while in your care. The paperwork involved in minor incidents is crazy. Monthly paperwork is required for each child. Babies and children on medications require more paperwork. Oh, and since foster children are on medicaid, many medical and dental appointments are required. The money paid is considered reimbursement for expenses NOT a paycheck. This is good when it comes to taxes as you do not have to “count” the income (it is treated like child support). You can claim children as a deduction so long as they have lived with you for more than 6 months of the year.
As a foster parent, you are NOT allowed to leave foster children even with close family members unless they have passed a background check, had a CPR and first aid class and a TB test. Be ready to pay extra for the specialized babysitter.
One question I have gotten over and over is, “How do you do it? I don’t think I could send the kids back.” For the most part, I think this is the hardest part of fostering (oh, there are a few kids who you are like, “Yes, please get this kiddo out of here”….I am being realistic. Some kids will not mesh with your family. Ask any foster parent…if they say this isn’t true, they are lying). In this area, I’ve learned, I just have to trust God. You still think about the kid that was only at your house for three days; you just do and there isn’t anything you can do about it. You cannot really “look them up” or anything.
I’m not ready to talk about discipline…it’s so complicated and many effective methods of discipline are not allowed.
The advantages of fostering… There are so many kids out there that need exposure to what a “normal” life can be. There are so many hurting kids; so many exposed to drugs, alcohol and abuse from a young age. It stuns me how many people are traveling around the world to adopt children when we have so many hurting children right here in good ole America who need good homes. One of the biggest advantages of fostering is that fostering to adopt is so advantageous. You get to have children live you to see how they fit with your family. Once the child becomes available for adoption, instead of it taking a year, the process takes only 90 days. And when you foster to adopt, the adoption is paid for.
We are fostering to adopt, which is the main reason we signed up to foster.
We are looking forward to the day we can mail out official “Addition to our family” post cards for our boy. (We have no idea when that might be).
Like I said, I don’t know everything. If there is anything you have questions about, or want more information about, post a question and I will answer the best I can.