Week 3: More Than Enough What? Part 2

More Than Enough Essentials Cohort 4: (Wednesday 10:30am) Week 3: More Than Enough What? Part 2

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    • #68742
      amanda@cafo.org
      CAFO Staff

      Consider this quote by Dan and Chip Heath: “What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.” What are some things that come to mind about supporting families that may be clear to “foster care folks” like yourself, but may be unclear and overwhelming to a person who has had minimal or no experience with foster care or with raising children from hard places?

    • #69297
      Joshua Horn
      Participant

      A few things come to mind.

      First, many folks have a hard time not being overwhelmed when they look at the whole picture of foster care… they imagine newborns and teenagers and adoptions and court and etc/etc/etc. Instead of seeing just one child (or one set of siblings) and walking alongside them day to day or week to week, they shut down because they are already asking questions about the whole process. It really helped me to see the process in stages and in pieces, and have other foster parents to sit down with to ask my questions.

      For many, there is baggage that comes with adoption/foster care/etc. They’ve had bad experiences or they’ve seen bad experiences. One woman in our church told us years after we started foster care that she was shocked that we became foster parents… she had been in and out of the system and her experiences with foster families were terrible. And she honestly considered switching churches because she couldn’t imagine attending a church where some of the staff were such awful people. But over the years, as we’ve advocated for the first families and tried to share in our circles about trauma parenting, she’s softened and has actually become one of our biggest encouragers and she prays constantly for us and our family.

      • #70005
        amanda@cafo.org
        CAFO Staff

        Joshua, I love that story!  My in-laws were very hesitant when we started fostering. They ‘knew someone who had a foster child who was bad… » etc. After we fostered for several years, and they fell in love with many of our kids, they are now using their retirement to be CASAs.

        Jason Johnson has written about it is often a blessing that God does not reveal to us the whole picture beforehand. While I do think that it is important to have knowledge of trauma informed parenting, how the system works, etc…just as you said, trying to swallow the whole system can be overwhelming!

    • #69339
      Angela
      Participant

      I think it’s clear to those in the foster care world the need to support foster families while they are answering this call and that regardless of where you are in life you can find a place at the table. Outside of foster care, people don’t understand the added responsibilities of being a foster parent with the paperwork, meetings, court dates, and just the amount of time and energy that goes into bringing a child from a hard place into your home. For so long it’s been either you’re a foster parent or not, and there’s no grey in the world of foster care. The grey is helping people find their niche outside of the black and white.

      • #70006
        amanda@cafo.org
        CAFO Staff

        I really appreciated Lesli’s bus analogy and how much her church values those people and families in all the seats, not just the foster parent seat! I think building that ‘gray area’ like you called it is key!

    • #69408
      Nathan Renfree
      Participant

      I think that quote holds a lot of truth. A lot of people we talk to about foster care tend to have limited or skewed ideas of what it really is or what it really entails. Foster care does carry with it a bad rep, with many thinking that families get into it just for the money. There are plenty of horror stories out there that most people have heard and relate to foster care, plus the way it’s often portrayed in media. So that has proven to be a bit of a barrier when trying to open up conversations with people about how they can help. And then there are many others who, when we tell them that we are foster parents, have some sort of response like, “That’s great. We thought about doing it once, but we just don’t think we can get attached to the kids and let them go.” I tend to feel that these responses are often laced with that resistance to the idea of getting into foster care – sort of an “I’m happy you’re doing it, and better you than me” sort of thing (this could, of course, just be my own judgement and cynicism talking).  And I can generally only speak to my own experiences as a foster parent when I have these conversations, which likey only lends to that lack of clarity in showing others that they can help and support foster care and families in so many other ways. So I’m sure I’m not helping people think outside that box of other ways they can help. Another big reason I’m taking this course.

      • #70008
        amanda@cafo.org
        CAFO Staff

        Nathan, I can absolutely relate to your frustrations with the ‘we thought about it but….’ responses. And it took me a while to build thicker skin and understanding and to not be offended when people told me they would get too attached. (I think Foster the Family blog is selling t-shirts right now that say ‘I get too attached’. Love it! )

        For me, I just judge the level of relationship with the person, is it a random lady at the supermarket who noticed we are an interracial family or is it a friend who I see everyday in the carpool line? and then honestly and kindly respond. Sometimes its a polite nod and walk away…and sometimes it is a « oh yes, we thought that too! We originally wanted to pursue international adoption but learned about XYZ and started fostering…and yes, you do get very attached and love these kids, but that’s the best part!

        I would be very interested to hear if anyone else has a ‘script’ or ‘go-to’ answer when they face these questions!

    • #69409
      Raquel Razien
      Participant

      In general, the entire child welfare system is just overwhelming for most people. I spend a lot of time in the community just speaking on how the system works. I talk about how private agencies partner with the government agency. I speak about step by step how foster care works. There is so much misinformation and myth around foster care and child welfare and breaking some of that down goes a long way towards helping people step into this space.

      • #70009
        amanda@cafo.org
        CAFO Staff

        It is a quest for a holy grail for me to find a simple not too-long video illustrating the basics of the child welfare system. Not the million what-ifs, but the basic steps that are consistent from state to (most) state. If anyone knows of one I would love to see it!

    • #69410
      Kaylee Newbold
      Participant

      I am so glad I read this quote. It is very true in the foster care world. I remember getting so frustrated with my church because I thought that no one cared about the kids in foster care in our community. When I dug deeper and saw what was going on behind the scenes it made a lot more sense. My church was not directly answering the call to adopt but instead they were organizing foster parent night outs and putting together resources for foster families in our area.

      The other side of this question reminds me of the foster parents that are coming into this to « save » a kid through « love ». While yes, love is the key ingredient in foster care it is not the only ingredient. We have to remind people a lot of the time that we are here to find families for our children and not children for our families. We want them to grow up in a home where they are loved for who they are and they are allowed to make mistakes. I always encourage my prospective foster parents to watch instant family and then we discuss what that may look like in their home.

      • #70010
        amanda@cafo.org
        CAFO Staff

        I held off watching that movie for a long time and after we did my husband looked at me and said « WHY DID YOU DO THAT TO ME?! » He has a sensitive heart and wants to take in ALL THE KIDS. It is really a great conversation starter, I wonder if anyone has developed a curriculum or question guide to go along with that?

    • #69423
      Anna Thomas
      Participant

      I think there is such a misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about foster care which makes it seem very overwhelming and scary. When I attend informational meetings I have to remember when I am speaking to not give so much information that it scares people even more. I often use the quote, not everyone is called to foster, but everyone is called to do something. It is about finding the right fit for that particular family. When the fit is right, they will not be so overwhelmed.

      • #70088
        Joshua Horn
        Participant

        It is definitely overwhelming and scary – I totally resonate with the « I have to remember … to not give so much information that it scares people even more. »

        We’ve tried to get in the habit of giving people tiny baby steps. If we share too much and then they panic, people won’t even sign up for email updates or anything like that. We have to say things like, « If you give us your email address, you aren’t signing up for anything! You are just receiving an email each month with updates. » They hear all that is involved with foster care and panic, so we have to remind them that giving their email isn’t them signing up to foster a teenager! 😛

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