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Foster parenting

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nolight posted 4/12/2014 23:51 PM

I'm 33 and am yet to find the right man to settle down with. I'm starting to get to the point that I would like to have children, my parents were neglectful pretty much leaving my sister and I to raise ourselves, I thought I'd found a family in exH but you all know how that goes!

Anyway I'm thinking about becoming a long term foster parent when I return to Australia. It's almost impossible for a single person to adopt plus I don't think I can handle the pregnancy thing on my own and more importantly there are so many children out there needing a stable, loving home.

I've started to look into it, the fact that I work full time is unbelievably a mark against me. that I'm in a respectable job and earn a very comfortable wage makes me less appealing then an unemployed person who will be home all day. I guess this is why we have issues with people using foster care as a money earner rather then for altruistic reasons. I think with the lack of carers my work status will eventually be overlooked, at least for school age children so its probably not a total block.

My only, and very selfish, concern is that it's kind of admitting defeat. Once/if the child is in my life they will become my first and main priority. I'm wondering if this means that I will never find a partner as I have a hopefully stereotyped view that it will be almost impossible to meet a guy willing to date a woman with a child. In Australia at least long term foster care is typically when there is no chance the child will return to the parents so they are usually placed with you until they turn 18 or you are allowed to adopt them so it's a lifong commitment.

If love to hear some reassurances from any single mums out there. I guess if I'm honest I've decided to go ahead with it and am just grappling with what being a single mother would mean.

nowiknow23 posted 4/13/2014 00:26 AM

My sister became a foster mom at the age of 45. She had a full-time job and was single, and she felt pulled to do something meaningful. Her first placement was an 11 yo boy. After a year, his younger brother joined him. And last May, she adopted them both.

They are amazing kids who had a really rough start to life. There have been challenges for my sister along the way, but the three of them were just meant to be a family. They're a blessing for my sister and our whole family.

If there's a will, you'll find a way.

Nature_Girl posted 4/13/2014 03:00 AM

I will be the voice representing the times when fostering is not a good thing. My sister fostered a girl who was, and I don't say this lightly, an absolute personality-disordered beast. She'd been in a very abusive, dysfunctional home (drug-addicted prostitute mother, armed robber father), shuffled from relative to relative, and by the time she lived with my sister she had major problems.

My heart went out to this girl, but she was so abusive & terrible that I could only be around her one time. That was it, I had to tell my sister not to bring this girl back to my home as she was an unsafe person for me & my children.

I strongly support fostering. I only want to point out that some kids in the foster system are severely damaged by their environments and need special parents who are experienced. You don't often hear stories like my sister's story.

cmego posted 4/13/2014 06:33 AM

My experience with the foster care system was with ex's family. His Mom and third husband decided to foster kids and ended up adopting three additional children.

There are all pretty messed up young adults right now. Drugs, early pregnancy, unhealthy emotionally. One was a boy who was the child of a prostitute and all three kids were born drug addicted. The boy grew to be so violent that he was put into a group home by the age of 11 because they were afraid he would kill the adopted mother.

I don't know if the continued problems were because ex's mom (the 3rd husband left….) is just not a good parent or if the kids were too damaged or what. But, overall it was a terrible experience.

When I met ex, only the first child was adopted and about 3 or 4 at the time, then adopted the other two while we were dating and early marriage. At one point we were their guardians, but as I began to see how many challenges they were facing, I refused to be their guardians. I couldn't see trying to have those children around mine…as terrible as that sounds.

I think, purely from a Mom's point of view, if you could foster an infant, than you would have a better shot of having a good bonding experience and "normal" childhood. But, the older the child becomes and what they have been through can make for an extremely difficult experience.

With that said, many of us here are either full time single parents or primary single parents. I have my kids 90% of the time. It is hard, but it IS totally doable. Organization and learning to let go of the small stuff is key.

I have no problem getting dates as a 43 year old single mom.

Purely my opinion, but if I had to choose between fostering and going through a pregnancy alone…I'd choose the pregnancy route.

PhoenixRisen posted 4/13/2014 08:55 AM

I worked in the education field and spent years working with abused children who are wards of the state.

Years ago a man walked in to enroll his foster child at my elementary school. I recognized this man as a friend of a friend from years ago (he was a single gay man who always wanted to be a dad). That little boy was was like Naturegirl's sister's foster child. He was angry, resentful, and became destructive to objects and attacked other children & animals. We all tried to help the child but my friend & Social Services decided the child needed a different environment (with 24 hr therapists) so the child went elsewhere.

A few years later I'm living in another town working in a home for abused children and a man arrives on the door step to pick up one boy - it's my friend again! He became that child's foster parent and a few months later also fostered that boy's brother (who was living in another facility). The two boys were reunited! Two years later he adopted both of them! I remember him saying that by adopting, rather than fostering, he had to give up the state $ support, but he said it was more important for his boys to know they were a family and had a permanent home. He was an awesome dad.

These children need good foster parents.
I love this video highlighting one child's story. I've seen so many children who go through this exact situation.

tesla posted 4/13/2014 09:15 AM

I think the thing about foster parenting is that you have to realize that you are getting a damaged kid. They are going to have issues and yes, they can be very severe and very scary but most importantly, very sad. This kid did not choose his start to life and has developed coping mechanisms accordingly.

You have to consider whether you can provide the structure, permanence, and supports that a foster child may potentially need. If you can and you are matched with the right child, the rewards are amazing. A lot of good can come out of it but it is a tough road to walk.

devistatedmom posted 4/13/2014 10:54 AM

I work in the high schools with kids who have special needs. I've had quite a few that along with their needs (most are DD or MID, functioning at about a grade 3-6 level cognitively, but 14-21 in physical age) they are also in foster care.

I know of one or two success stories, where foster care worked out great for the kids. I know many other stories where it didn't. I'm "living" two of them right now. It's heartbreaking for ME, and I'm not the foster parent, just someone working with them at school.

Not trying to turn you off of fostering, heck, I've thought of doing it myself, but want you to know that many of the kids you will come across may have cognitive issues also. Unfortunately, the reasons any kid gets into foster care are not happy ones in the first place. It take special person with some thick skin not to take things personally.

devistatedmom posted 4/13/2014 10:56 AM

Actually, another thought. Look up the author Casey Watson. She is a foster parent in England that worked with "tough" cases, and wrote books about them. Some have "happy" endings for the child, some did not. I've read a few of them, and thought she did a great job showing just how hard and rewarding fostering can be. It also shows how doing so can affect the rest of your family...and I'm talking your siblings, parents, friends, etc.

StrongerOne posted 4/13/2014 12:46 PM

I feel sad reading the posts warning you about bad foster experiences. Yes, you may end up with a seriously disturbed child. If you have your own biological child you might also end up with a seriously disturbed child.

If you end up with an out of control or dangerous or too damaged child, then you work with social services to get the child in the right placement.

But there are so many kids who are not irretrievably damaged. Who may be difficult, but are still just kids. So many who need a loving oerson to take care of them. To show them they are loveable.

One of my colleagues is a young (late 20s) gay man. Works full time. He is fostering an elementary school boy with a dreadful mother. Has been for two years now. That boy has blossomed with my colleague as his foster dad. And my colleague is happy about the relationship too. He's a good dad.

Please, if your heart tells you to try, try.

There aren't any guarantees with children and child raising. Except that showing child love and concern is guaranteed a good thing to do.

nolight posted 4/13/2014 15:23 PM

Thank you all for your considered responses. I appreciate the postoperative and negative experiences as I'm not making this decision lightly and need to weigh up the positives and negatives as i do plan on committing myself fully should I go ahead with it.

For those of you that mentioned family and friends who had severe behavioural issues with their ward could you indicate how old the children were when they entered their lives?

Nature_Girl posted 4/13/2014 17:31 PM

The girl my sister fostered was probably 10 or 11 when she came to my sister's home. My sister was 100% unable to get "the system" to place the girl in a different home after that. She stayed with her until age 18. It was so bad she had to sleep with her bedroom door locked with a deadbolt.

cmego posted 4/13/2014 17:43 PM

an infant, a 3 year old and a 4 year old.

Of the three, the infant is the most "normal", but she is only 15.

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