Big steps in our house. We have started our classes toward being foster parents. We have 7 more classes to go and our intensive home study. I appreciated how our instructor introduced the course, "We like to call this a mutual interaction course during which you will decided if this is right for you, and we can begin to see if you are right for us."
We are looking to be intensive foster parents i.e. foster parents for children with special needs/circumstances. Certainly, all children in the foster system have special needs i.e. the need for family and love, but these children exhibit larger issues or for some other reason require more time than children in the regular system.
One of the first questions we got at our first meeting was why were we considering IFC (intensive foster care)? My first thought was of a student that I had when I was student teaching (Let's call him Patrick.). When I started teaching, I expected to really like the goodie two shoes and find the difficult children to be my biggest problem; however, what I found was that the "trouble makers" were the ones that stole my heart. Patrick was always bothering other kids. He was actually known to jump over a table and punch other children. He was outwardly aggressive and extremely confrontational to adults (mind you this was 3rd grade). I cannot tell you the number of times I had to take this child aside to talk to him. One particularly difficult day, when I took him aside, he finally just admitted that he was hungry. His mom was "saving" the food for this weekend when a friend of hers was coming by. He hadn't eaten since yesterday at school. I knew from the background on Patrick that this was most likely a true story. The concept of a parent withholding food from their child was foreign to me (Yes, I was naive, but I wasn't even 20 yet). Henceforth, I kept snacks in my desk and told him to come to me any time he was hungry, but that is when I knew that it was these kids that held my hearts--- Kids with all the promise in the world that just needed someone to believe in them, that just needed some stable ground to begin to grow in, that just needed to worry about being a kid and not all the adult worries. Patrick was also and incredible artist. I can only hope that his home life changed and he was given an opportunity to develop this talent or that he remembers just one of our many talks and had the strength to hold on to his dreams. Patrick has been held in my heart from these almost 20 years, but as a teacher there is only so much you can do for so long. As a mother, maybe I could ensure that the Patricks of this world would one day become world renown artists.
I welcome any thoughts by others that have fostered or been fostered. Please let me know how we can be a good family for the children that will hopefully come through our doorway. We still have a long road to travel, but we are now a little farther today.