Friday, February 12, 2010

Accidental Foster parent--or how I came to foster parent

It was never my intention to be a foster parent--at one point in my life I considered it, but decided it was not for me. Ah the cruel irony of fate! I have known the future FS#1 since he ran away from home (if running away means his adoptive parent dropped him off at my Agency saying "You take him, I don't want him anymore" of course she denied this at her trial, but I am getting ahead of myself here). At the time I met the future FS#1 I was working at a local non-profit human services organization. I came in to work one morning and saw a teenager in one of the interview rooms. This chid was sitting there trying to make himself as small as possible. My heart went out to him. Then I heard the story and my heart damn near stopped. His story (or as much of it that can be told)...

FS#1 was born in Another State. What facts as I know them (Another State is noterious for bad record keeping) is that FS#1 was born to a drug addicted mother. FS#1 spent weeks in the hospital before he was released and then he was released directly into foster care. Unfortunately, during FS#1 infancy it was discovered that he suffered from a chronic disease that if provided with the proper medical care is managable, but without the proper medical care.... Sometime during the preteen years they left Another State and moved here. All during this time adoptive parent told FS#1 that he would not live past 10 and oops when he did stopped providing proper medical care. Now adoptive parent did not stop medical care, but the medical care became haphazard and as a result compromised FS#1 health. FS#1's MDs reported his deteriorating health to CPS, but the investigation kept coming back non-founded. In addition to the lack of proper medical care, FS#1 also suffer emotional, mental and physical abuse. Finally when he entered his teen years, FS#1 got one beating too many, he left home. CPS finally found for abuse and found that the abuse was serious enough to charge adoptive parent with neglect. The adoptive parent was found guilty of the charges and sentenced to 9 months. When FS#1 heard about the verdict his only reply was "Finally, someone believed me"

As I mentioned, I have known FS#1 since he left his adoptive home. As it turned out, I was also friends with the family who fostered him after he left his adoptive home. So I was privy to much that went right and then what went wrong with that placement. As I am fond of saying "the placement worked until it didn't". When it was working everyone (including FS#1; he even had the school change his last name to the foster family surname for his sports jersey) decided that adoption of FS#1 was the way to go. Then the placement wasn't working; FS#1 was acting out, he ran away, snuck out at night, etc... FS#1 put a stop to the adoption process, then figured out a way to disrupt the placement. However, what happened aftr the disruption was not part of his plan. He went from his foster home to a group home, to a therapeutic foster home, to a residential treatment program (RTP). Thoughout all of this I stayed in touch, mostly by just showing up at his athletic events (where he ignored me most of the time, but always checked to see if I was there before he belatenly ignored me). When he moved into the RTP, I got permission from his sw (Wonderful) to go and visit him once a week. During this time we developed our relationship, I brought him treats, books and took him out on passes. After a particularly emotional 4th of July (FS#1 cried for 3 days when he realized that he would never have family BBQ's; this was tiggered by a conversation with his peers), he started talking about giving living with a family another try. Up until then, he kept talking about leaving the system when he turned 18 cause he don't need no stinking family (Ah, those are my words, his were a bit more graphic).

Well we decided to give the having him live with me thing a go just in time for me to enroll in that fall's foster parenting classes. Wonderful decided that social services would do a kinship care with us since I had a prior relationship with FS#1 and it would be faster. So on Nov 21st 2008, FS#1 moved into my home at age 17 years 9 months. I knew at the time that if I didn't form a strong bond with FS#1, he would be walking out my door on his 18th birthday. Well to make a long story short, he didn't move out on his 18th birthday, he graduated from HS with an advance diploma, he took a did remarkedly average on his SATs and he is currently in college.

As part of the negogiating living in my house, I used the Permanency Pact that can be found of the FosterClub website to work out with I was willing to give and what he would be willing to accept from me. I can not stress how important using this worksheet was in establishing the relationship FS#1 and I enjoy now. As a result, I have made a committment to FS#1 for life. I am committed to keeping his room his room until he graduates from college (or to when he no longer needs it anymore, since more and more kids are moving home after college).

As result of my success with FS#1, (and the fact I had one more bedroom available), I completed the requirements to do regular foster care (ok, so I still working on that, I didn't realize how good I had it doing kinship care!). FS#2 was placed with me Dec. 4th, 2009.

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