Thursday, April 3, 2014

New Kid

We took in a new kid Monday night. She came straight out of police protective custody, and we didn't know much about her. It's taken 2 days to see parts of her file, and 3 days to get in touch with her worker. And holy cow. This girl is, on paper, a mess. Lifetime of trauma and abuse, been in and out of the system...last time she was in foster care, she went through 12 foster homes in less than a year.
   Amongst a host of other issues that we weren't aware of when agreeing to house the girl, it came to my attention today that she should not be placed with younger kids. We had 2 younger boys when we picked this girl up! And nobody from the agency said a word. The girl had been in the system before, so it's not like this was a new development!
   Along with that, the family we're trying to adopt has 2 younger kids. Since she can't be with them, we'd have to send her off in a few months anyway (if we're selected for the kids).
   Yet when I talked to her worker today, I was the one in the wrong. Because she was new to her case, and I didn't give her enough time to finish the file. I am so ticked off with the system.
   Now we're trying to decide if we should try to keep this girl for awhile. Her mom, social workers, doctor, and previous case worker all seem to agree that she is difficult. (putting it mildly) We've only been fostering since September, and have no prior child raising experience before that. I don't know if we're ready for a girl that has been hospitalized 3 times, and whose workers want to take her off her meds and start from scratch.
   When I tried to bring this to my worker's attention, she said that we shouldn't be yet another family to give up on this girl. Part of me thinks that's true. I don't want to give up on her. From what we've seen she's decent and polite. She and I have a lot in common. But the other part of me wonders how insane it is going to get when the switch flips.
   What she needs is stability and rules and support. And, in my opinion, high level care. I don't know how much of any of that we can provide. Her needs seem so far out of our depth, I'm worried that if we keep her, we won't be able to deal with her once the 2 week honeymoon period is up.
   I honestly have no clue what to do. I want for it to work out, but I really think she's going to be too difficult to handle. I don't feel supported by the agency at all. I feel like all I ever get from them is blame and guilt trips. I've considered, more than once, closing our license because I don't like the way we are treated. She seems like she wants to stay, and she told her worker she'd try to change her behaviour. Her old worker also said that a lot of her behaviours are environmental, because she didn't like how things were at her mom's. But I can't stop thinking about the 12 other foster homes she was in, and why she got kicked out of those...

There are no easy answers in foster care.

UPDATE (4/3/14 @7PM)
We have decided to ask the girl be placed somewhere else. We aren't licensed to deal with difficult cases. We've gotten no support from the agency in tricky situations for any of the other kids we've had. In fact, when I wrote my worker and told her that we're giving our notice (partly because of the lack of support from the agency), she asked if we could keep the girl longer than 2 weeks AND what supports would we need. Isn't that the point? We dont' know enough about the girl or her issues or her difficulty level to actually KNOW what we would need support on!


  1. Kids issues get worse in their teen years when the hormones retrigger their sexual abuse and when it becomes more apparent that they are detached from the parent. Being a teenage is dfficult but what if you had no attachment to your parent or the world. This is why being a foster parent is so difficult I'm super glad you are going into this, but do give it time.

    1. Thanks. We just don't feel comfortable trying to parent a girl with this level of need after only 9 months of experience. I feel like a failure, but I also know my limits.

  2. This makes me so sad. I've heard from other foster parents that the challenges of dealing with the kids themselves pale in comparison to the challenge of navigating a broken system.

    1. Exactly! It's like the system wants them to find a bed. Doesn't matter if it's a good fit, or a stable fit. Just a bed.
      Which puts foster parents in a pickle. Either let go of a kid you feel won't work, or stick it out and deal with it and risk burn out. :(