Monday, June 15, 2009

More Delays?

I found out today that my request for a criminal record check may be delayed by several months. So, we've been feeling just about ready to go and now we may have to wait quite awhile longer despite having everything else ready. Argh!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What makes a family?

Most of my life I have found myself in places and communities where this question comes up. In fact, I've so often been in environments with different definitions of family that I get startled by the people who believe that "family" means "mother, father, 2.4 kids, and matching biological extended family members."

I grew up in a single parent family long before divorce became common. I gained and lost siblings through re-marriage and a 2nd divorce, I was excluded from the family formed by another remarriage, I found my "family" in my friends, I "ran away" as a young adult and spent close to a decade living abroad. In the last decade, I've returned to "sort-of" home, come to terms with how to deal with my legal/biological family and continued to grow family in other ways. Ironically, in the midst of all this I got married to a person with a very stable and "normal" family. It's interesting to see the differences in how we approach things, yet, we both come to a place of defining family in terms of intention and love, rather than nuclear and biological.

I really hope that we will be able to extend this belief in family to others as foster parents. But, I also don't want to pressure a child who isn't ready. It's likely to be a challenging balance.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I don't always get along with others...

A few weeks ago at a training session one of the other prospective foster parents said, "those people who apply for adoption aren't interested in fostering--they've all experienced infertility and after that why would you want to raise someone else's child."

I was very taken aback and really wanted to comment on it, but, it was orthogonal to the discussion at the time and I let it go. But, it's still bugging me!

First, how does she know that they've all experienced infertility? I know several people who've adopted because it seemed like a way to make a real difference in the life of a child and others who've adopted because they see it as a service to society. Some of these people have bio-kids as well and have never experienced infertility.

Second, I've experienced infertility. It was oddly hurtful to have someone assume that I would change my view of fostering because of that. In our county, foster-to-adopt is not an option because they had trouble with people who really wanted to adopt struggling with the primary motivation of fostering. I do get how this can be a problem. If you live in an area where the only way to adopt from foster care is to become a foster-to-adopt family and then hope that parental rights get terminated, you may go ahead and begin fostering, but, you didn't necessarily choose to foster. Fostering should have a goal of helping a family get itself together again to be a healthy place for the child you are fostering to return to. But, if you're fostering because you want to adopt and it is a hurdle you must jump through, then, you are likely to have a tough time with the goal of reunification. On the other hand, I think that some people can legitimately do both. But, people who make sweeping generalizations about "all people who X..." are the reason others of us can't offer that we can work toward reunification and still move to adoption if there is a good fit and reunification fails.

Third, why is she applying to be a foster parent if she thinks that people who've experienced infertility can't parent other people's children? She doesn't have her own kids yet, so, she might be infertile. What would she do when she figured that out? Return the foster kids?

I'd love for there to be a perfect world where nobody needed foster families because all families were functional and whenever anyone got sick or died young there was extended family ready, willing and able to provide a loving home. But, I live in the real world, and, in the real world, things aren't perfect. If I am able to be there to support a child and/or a family in a time of need, it seems like an important thing to do. Choosing to be a foster parent has nothing to do with fertility! (At least not for me.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How did we get here?

Well, I always meant to foster...I just thought I'd do it after having my own kids.

Hmmn...I left this draft awhile ago. It's no doubt still a useful thing for me to write about. I'll try to do that soon.