When we started doing foster care, many years ago, people were in foster care for many different reasons but many wanted infants. Many people were in foster care hoping to adopt and grow their families. They were hoping to get a baby. Back then, infants did not come into care often. When they did, they were usually part of a large sibling group. The single infants that did come into care were drug exposed, special needs or both and most people, back then, did not want to take them. I can honestly say, that now, most of the foster families I know, take in drug exposed infants. This also is so wonderful, as sadly, there is a large amount of drug exposed infants that come into care now days. Actually, there are so many drug exposed infants that come into care, they are having trouble finding homes for them all at times. As the population has grown here in North Georgia, so has the drug problem. We get regular e-mails from DFCS's all over North Georgia, asking for placements of children and infants, as there is just not enough foster homes for them all. When a home can not be found, a case worker stays at a hotel, with the children, till placement can be found. I have never seen so many drug exposed infants come into care in my life. This is a very bad problem and makes me so sad. Most of these children have medical issues from the mothers drug abuse. I am very concerned about this. I see many foster homes taking in these infants/children and eventually adopting to the point they have to close because they have reached the legal limit of children in order to still do foster care. I am so happy these children are getting permanent homes but see the desperate need for foster/adoptive homes to replace the ones adopting themselves out of working with the system. So many children. So many infants...I really would like to do more. I wish I could take them all.
We actually did respite for a three month old last week. We did this for many reasons. One was to help a precious, hard working foster family, that was going on vacation. I was praying that taking her baby for the week, would help her not to worry about him while she was gone. He is a precious soul and very special to her heart. I cleared my schedule for the week, as much as possible, so we could do our best for him and enjoy him, while he was here. He has refux/nursing troubles as well as other things going on.
Another reason why we took him, for the week, was to see if we could possibly do another baby at this time, permanently. God is so good and gave me the strength and energy to care for everyone this week but I soon learned I can not do another child long term at this time. The toddlers are still so needy. They want me and only me most of the time. Baby "K", even though she is a gem, needs me to work with her a little all day long, to encourage her to use her body and progress. Of course then there were all the needs of my older children. There was just not enough hours in the day or enough of me to go around, to do the extra things in life that show love and those nurturing moments were just not getting done. It was a good week. We really enjoyed baby "R" being at our home. We REALLY miss him. He is a special little treasure. Babies are always fun. But I learned that until the toddlers mature a bit and baby "K" progresses a bit more, my hands are full of wonder things. I am truly so happy and content in life right now.
Actually, where I am, this part of foster care is the wonderful part. The kids have been here a while (The boys nine months and baby "K" five months) and are progressing and getting settled. Most of the hard days and appointments are behind us, that happen when taking in a child. This is the up side of foster care. To receive a child into our home, that has not only gone thru the trauma of being removed from everything they ever knew, but often have gone thru neglect or abuse as well...and then... thru God, time, love and stability, start to relax, grow and change into happy children. This is amazingly rewarding. It is something I will never tire of. Who would not want to witness daily progress and miracles?
In all fairness and to paint the true picture of it all though...The down side of it all, is that daily we are in the trenches of helping these children process and over come or learn to deal with, all they have went thru. Often their behaviors are overwhelming and very hard to deal with. Sometimes a child will have day after day of tantrums and crying. Nights of screaming with no way to comfort them. Children that lash out at everyone in the family by biting, hitting, pinching, kicking. ("B" recently sent "T" to the emergency room for stitches.) Sometimes there is sexual acting out, even done by toddlers, that have been thru the unthinkable. (I am just being honest here) Sometimes we think all the harder stuff is in the past, only to have it all come back again in full force, by having a visit or by an unknown trigger.
Also, there is the system to work with, which is also very trying at times. We have to work in close contact with case workers. We have a lot of appointments, from visitations for each child. (often weekly) To the many therapy, doctors, counseling and other appointments that come with this life.
Foster care is tough, there is no doubt about it. It always was and still is but from my experience, in our area, in the past and now, I can see that the deep core of foster care has not changed. Children are still taken into custody, out of terrible circumstances, in need of families that will stick with them and help them heal. While their parents get the help they need or reject it. But a lot of the things surrounding the core of foster care, has changed so much in our area, from the amount of children taken into care. (There are many more than there used to be.) To the amount of terminations happening. (There are more than there used to be. Largely because Meth is so hard of an addiction to quit.) Also, I have seen a huge change in the willingness, of this new generation of foster homes, to lovingly receive and adopt the children that are placed with them. Praise God! All of these children need stable, loving and often permanent homes. I have also seen that DFC's in our area are much easier and better to work with than in the past. Foster parents seem to truly be appreciated more by them and that makes our hard job feel even better at times. To know we are valued. Not that this is why we do it, but it helps. I also see that foster parents, in general, are more open to different placements, in my opinion, this is because of the harder times we are in. The children coming into care, are of more varied ethnic or mixed backgrounds and many, because of the parents addiction to drugs, have special needs.
Foster Care, even though it is ever changing, is still a great way to serve the Lord. To help society. To care for the orphans of this world. The need is huge nation wide. Please encourage anyone you can to do foster care. It will change the world for a child and bless your life more than you could ever imagine.
Matthew 18:2-6King James Version (KJV) And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.