Can I be honest? On days like these I hate foster care.
I hate what it has done to people I love– adults and children alike. I hate how hopeless it makes me feel at times about the government’s inability to do what’s right for these children. I hate how good people in the process of applying get burned out by the lack of assistance from the Welfare organisations. I hate how good people really try hard to make a positive change in both bio parents and children’s lives, but bad people (caseworkers, lawyers etc.) can do this for ages because they don’t really care. I hate that I encourage people into this hard work and then they get wounded and I feel in some way responsible. I hate that the very same children this is all about, suffer because
of what happened to them while in the system, as much as loving people try to prevent those traumas from being repeated. I hate the stigma that follows foster kids even after they’re out of the system. Today, I hate it all.
I try to give people honest answers when I talk to them about safety and foster care. I will never tell you that it’s easy. I will never tell you you won’t be frustrated, angry or even heartbroken when you see the inner workings of this broken system up close and personal. To see how the foster care “sausage gets made” is to feel helpless and frustrated in a hundred different ways. It’s maddening how much the actual children seem like an afterthought in the whole process of the very organisation that is supposed to care for them.
YES, the system is broken. And I don’t just mean the very same welfare organisation that is supposed to protect them. Every piece of this system is broken because it’s full of broken people. Bad people become foster parents even though the process is supposed to eradicate this and even though everyone involved is supposed to work together to stop that. There are bio families that have damaged their children so badly however will continue to drag out the process as long as possible even when they know they won’t be parenting again.
I know. It’s a mess. But I can’t stay away. I can’t turn my back on this.
Here’s the thing – if you look at foster care and you see the problems, then you’ve got to be part of the solution. We can’t just opt out. These kids need stability. We may not be able to fix the system, but we can provide stability to these children while we wait on the process. We can be good hostage negotiators. We can provide accountability, we can be the squeaky wheel, and we can be motivators/solution makers for caseworkers. We can do all of that within the confines of a broken system, even when we’re angry. Even when we hate it.
When you see the child in front of you and you want to FIX IT, whatever “it” may be. But that same level of bias, education and awareness makes you an ideal advocate for these children once you’re out of the system. You have seen the problems from a “ground level” perspective and now you can communicate to others about where change is needed. We can’t turn our back on the children still stuck in the system. We can’t adopt our way out and forget. When we look into the eyes of these children, we know there are many more kids of equal worth, with dreams and hopes, with pains and sorrows.
YOU AND I, can be that voice.
So yes, today I really hate foster care. I see what it’s doing to people I love and it makes me want to cry. Today it’s really personal and I want to give up this work of advocacy and support and I’d like to turn my back on the whole thing. But I won’t. Because these children did not ask to be here and are very much worth it.
If we don’t do this work, who will?