Foster Parenting - Log #20


MORE OF THE DAY TO DAY: After thinking more about what I shared in the previous foster parenting log, I wanted to correct a false impression I may have given. Although it was very crazy and intense having Jason and Amy with us, it was not mass chaos 100% of the time. 99% of the time, yes. But there were a few instances when it seemed that we were connecting with them.

We saw progress in Jason over the days they were with us. He stopped biting. He was hitting less. He started to use "please" and "thank you" on occasion. He started to respond to consequences ("If you continue to do ___________, then you will sit in the time out chair. Do you
want to sit in the time out chair? No? Then stop doing what you're doing"). I did not see any progress with Amy, but hers were not as much bad behavior issues as they were related to her disability (something similar to autism) so it will take intense therapy to even hope to overcome them.

Both children were sick with fevers over the weekend they were with us. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Both spent more time laying around, wanting to be cuddled, wanting to be read to. Being sick allowed them to allow us to parent them and they could do nothing but accept our love.

HOW DID OUR BIOLOGICAL CHILDREN RESPOND TO THIS PLACEMENT: We learned a lot about our own children as a result of having Jason and Amy in our home. My 8-year-old daughter was able to roll with most of what came our way, but she did not enjoy it. She is excited about foster care and is anxious for us to take in some children. But once the new children come, it doesn't take long for her to wish they were gone. She's honest about it and she lets us know ho
w she feels. She didn't do well with the chaos that Jason and Amy brought to our home. She spent more time in her room by herself, lost in her books. She walked away from meals, saying that she would eat later, because she couldn't handle the noise level at the table with all 6 of us present. On the positive side, though, since she is older she was able to be consistent in good behaviors and habits - not being influenced by the bad behaviors going on around her. I was very proud of her for that!

My 3-year-old son is a different story. He was basically the same age as Jason and soaked up Jason's bad behaviors like a sponge. For example, my son did not have an issue with biting people, but two days into this placement (with Jason introducing biting as a way to respond to your anger) he started biting others. It was ironic that Jason gave up biting a few days later but my son continued with it. And like my daughter, my son also expressed that he wanted Jason and Amy to go home after a day or two of having them with us.

Both my son and my daughter knew that the rules in our house were changed because of these foster children. Certain things (like homeschool) were put on hold. Certain behaviors that we don't tolerate in them were now tolerated in the foster children (like the rudeness, the running in the house, etc). The amount of attention that our kids were used to was greatly diminished and they were expected to be more independent, taking care of things themselves without parental help simply because parents were busy with more immediate dangers/issues. There was an inconsistency that our kids picked up on immediately.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE: Experiences like this make us examine our desire to foster. We are not wanting to sacrifice our children on the altar of ministry. We are not wanting our children to resent us for spending more time with foster children than we did with them. We are wanting our children to see us loving others, loving the least of these, welcoming children and orphans and guests into our home.

So we are left again wondering if this is the season of life we should be fostering or if our desire to foster should be put on hold for a few years. Clearly my daughter at age 8 could handle having younger children in our home without major influence on her behavior. Maybe we should wait until our son is closer to that age as well. Or maybe we continue what we're doing and just know that we will spend time de-programming our children after foster children leave our home. It takes time to re-adjust to normal life and normal rules. And we would just know that they could change again at a moment's notice. Of course, this placement was also WAY harder than a normal placement. The issues were all magnified. We've had similar issues with other placements but not to this extent. So maybe we should not "throw the baby out with the bath water" because of this one week of a difficult experience.

WRAP UP: In foster care circles, there is a large emphasis placed on the fact that foster children are not in foster care because there is something wrong with them. They are in foster care because their parents somehow failed as parents. While this is true - foster children are not broken, defective children - foster children often do have "issues" as a result of their broken, defective family lives. These two children have been deeply affected by their parents' choices. Without the grace of God and the intervention of others, their lives are not headed in a positive direction and their futures seem nearly hopeless.

The only hope for Jason and Amy rests in God. And the only hope for our family, as we consider our future, rests in the same place. It's all about Christ and His plans and His glory. It's about living out His love for others - in our marriages, in our family lives, in our "ministry" to others.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you, not to harm. Plans to give you hope and a future!" Jeremiah 29:11

I invite you to pray with us for that future and hope to come to pass for all of us!


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