Monday, April 16, 2012

Hard Choices When Fostering Kids

The Kids We Couldn't Keep:
Over the 13 years we were foster parents, 69 kids became temporary members of our family.  Of those 69, there were maybe 4 children that we should have probably have not taken in.  These were the ones that put tension and stress on the whole family.  One was a run-away that eventually went to a juvenile detention center and one told how his hero was Hitler (I found him explaining to my 6 year old in detail how Hitler would kill pregnant women).  We hung in there with these 2 since they were only short term...just a week or so.  But the other 2 we did actually call the agency and ask them to find other homes for.

The first one was a young man that had some severe psychological issues.  He was a loner and all but refused to join in with the other kids.  He was rude to everyone and made several of the kids very uncomfortable.  But we'd had kids with problems before and were prepared to help him all we could.  Then one day all the kids went swimming at the local pool...this young man included.  A couple hours later, he showed up at the house, alone and obviously agitated.  During horseplay at the pool, he'd gotten splashed and bumped around and he didn't like it.  Then he proceeded to tell me in extremely graphic detail how he was going to kill the boy that had bumped him (a foster).  I would have taken notice if he'd just said "I'm gonna kill him" but when he gave me details on exactly how he was going to do it, I knew we were in dangerous territory.  As soon as he went to his room, I was on the phone to the agency and he was gone before the other kids got home from the pool.

The safety of the kids in our home was of utmost importance to me.  The most important thing.  So when one is threatened so severely by another, that's when the threat has to be removed.

The only other one we had to call the agency for was a sadder case.  I really thought long and hard about this one because I was not one who gave up easily on any of these kids.  I understood they came from problems and usually brought those problems with them.  But this young girl brought a little more with her than I could handle.

I am the least prejudiced person you will ever meet so when I heard that this young girl (if I remember right, she was about 8 or 9) came from a home that included her mother and her mother's female partner, I didn't think anything of it....until...I found out both mothers were arrested for sexually abusing their children...the young girl with us and two young boys.  Then I was told, after she'd spent one night and I'd already taken her to her special school the next day, that I might want to keep an eye on her because she may crawl in bed with my 6 yr. old daughter.  Not because she'd want to hurt her but this was the only life she'd known.

The number one rule in any foster home is simple...no matter how much you want to help other children, no matter how much you care about them...your own children's needs and safety have to come first.  I couldn't take a chance that she just might want to sleep with my daughter a little too closely, like she was used to in her sexually abusive home.  I couldn't take the chance that she'd touch my daughter just to be close.  The agency tried to reassure me that this probably wouldn't happen...but I'm sorry, that wasn't good enough. 

I recommended that they place this young girl in a home that didn't have young children that could be vulnerable.  Teenagers or adults only would be a much better choice.  They had to listen to me because I refused to let her spend another night.  Now don't get me wrong...I really felt for this child.  Her circumstances broke my heart.  She didn't ask for the problems she'd had to endure.  She needed help so badly and a home to live in, but for the sake of my child, it wasn't going to be mine. I felt better about my decision when I learned she was placed with an older couple whose children were grown.

Sometimes you have to make the hard choices.  Would your choice have been the same as mine?

The Affair by Lee Child:
I've been a fan of Lee Child's books for a long time.  His Jack Reacher series never fails to satisfy my need for thrills and suspense.  Reacher is ex-military and is now spending his days walking and hitchhiking around the U.S. seeing things he could never have seen during his years in the army.  But, as with all of his novels, trouble is always waiting around the next bend in the road.

In The Affair, Child has taken us back to 1997 when Reacher is still a captain in the Army.  He's assigned to investigate a murder in a small town but there are many people, some as high as Washington DC, that want to stop him at any cost. 

Unrelenting suspense that takes you back to the beginning of the Reacher saga, a thriller that takes you to the edge and beyond.  I highly recommend The Affair and all of the others in the Jack Reacher series.  You won't be disappointed.

Quotes of the Day:
It's just not normal for people to put their hands on our children like this. If we do this, we're going to jail for child abuse. ~ Shauna Manning

Simply having children does not make mothers. ~ John A. Shedd

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3 comments:

E. B. Pike said...

Oh wow. I can't imagine having to deal with this. Most days, it's all I can do to keep track of my own two kids and their issues. I commend you for having such a big heart and taking in so many children. I have to say I'd agree with you --when the other children are at risk, it would be time to make a tough decision.

Karen said...

Thank you for joining my blog! About my post...we really had very few bad days and thankfully these were the only kids I had to make this kind of decision with. But you're right, when the others are at risk, you have to put aside your 'wanting to help everyone' attitude and focus on doing what's best for everyone.

Karen Lynne said...

Karen, what an amazing journey you have had and such a blessing for the kids you have helped.