Thursday, January 31, 2013

Support

I have been exploring the idea of joining a foster care support group. Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post.

As foster parents we are told in training that everything involved in our foster child's case is confidential. Specifically WE were advised, during training, that when anybody asked about the new child in our home we respond by saying something to the effect of "this is the newest member of our family". Hmm...does this response invokes a lot of questioning? Yes, yes it does.

The question is this, is there really any way to keep your foster child's case a secret? I don't think so.
I'm not suggesting that foster parents divulge all the nitty gritty details of the case, but really I do think you have to be honest about why you have an extra child in your care.

Then there is the issue of foster parents needing a safe place to blow off some steam. Foster care is difficult. Some days are easy breezy and others feel like your very life is being threatened. With emotional highs and lows like these I feel there is no way to be a good foster care parent without some confidential support from other folks in the same situation.

Reading and commenting on other foster care blogs has been a life saver for me, but now I'm feeling the need for some face to face human contact around the stresses and joys of foster care.

Maybe I will have to start my own support group as there doesn't seem to much of this activity in my area.


3 comments:

  1. It amazes me that there are so many support groups for those going through divorce, abuse, etc, but for those of us who have gone through infertility, and ones going through foster care--there's hardly any support aside from online forums and blogs. It's a shame, really. I do hope you find a group you feel is beneficial for you.

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  2. Yeah, that answer you were given doesn't seem like it does anything other than invite people to ask more.

    We were told to say, "so-and-so is just staying with us for a while." And given the emphatic speech about NEVER, EVER identifying a child as a "foster child."

    But during the same training we were asked to recruit other foster families by "sharing our story."

    My middle ground? I stick with the "staying with us for a while" but most of the people I know are aware that we're a foster family, so they know what that means. It has led to people who don't need to know more (the AC repairman for example) asking if they were family members, to which he got a cheery "Not really!"

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  3. I think support groups are a great thing for foster parents. Fostering can be isolating. I know for me, it is difficult to take my foster children to typical play dates and things because they do not often interact like other children. We still do those things, of course, but at times it is exhausting to feel like the other parents really don't get it and sometimes I feel judged and like I need to explain why I parent the "unconventional" way that I do. I know part of that is me not being better at not caring what other people think. The times when I have been around other foster parents though, it is a bit re-energizing to be around people who understand the struggle.

    We have some groups that have been very successful in our area. But I know of others who have struggled to get people together. I think sometimes foster parents feel overwhelmed with all there is to do with and for the kids that a support group (even though it is for the parents) can feel like just one more foster care related thing on their plate. The groups here that have been successful have included the kids, one even offers childcare (set up thru the church that hosts it). They try to do one fun outing a month (like a potluck at the park, pizza and movie night for the kids, roller skating etc). I think having an activity for the kids to do makes the support group sound a little more appealing to the parents rather than feeling like they will be chasing after the kids the while time and won't be able to socialize with the adults. I know of groups that pay a small amount $2-3 per child to pay for several babysitters (high schoolers or church youth group) to interact with the kids while the adults have their time.

    Of course, this kind of group is a lot more complicated and involved to get up and running. I hope you are able to get some kind of group together. It's good for all of you. Keep us posted on how it goes!

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