Proof: http://i.imgur.com/ge637Qx.jpg?1

We are a middle class white couple and we are both 29.

I will discuss the individual cases of each child as i will not be giving you their name. I promise you, Each of them are a soapopera.

We've had 10 placements

Comments: 250 • Responses: 94  • Date: 

Shesaidshewaslvl1882 karma

I am adopted. My parents had fostered over 200 children when I was 5. They adopted 5 of us.

You're doing a good thing, but please know when to stop and focus on your children.

howlowcanIg024 karma

I'd like to think that being a foster family is an identity of our family. I would never want to make our family suffer per our decision. In my dreams, our kids embrace the concept and want to have a bigger family and share our love. I don't know know if that will happen, but I'm not going to take more than we can handle. We've never had more than 5 kids in the house at a time.

mrgreyshadow11 karma

I am also adopted. My adoptive parents were abusive, and no more competent than the parent(s?) who gave me up.

Please continue to meet the basic standard for a parent. Please do not molest your children or treat them like animals, customers, or foster kids you're babysitting instead of just kids. That artificiality is something we could see, and it made us wish again for "real" parents, you see. And please don't be frustrated that you can't "fix" them overnight from the hangups they are going to have forever. Maintaining an image of a happy family is far less valuable than maintaining trust and safety of your kids.

(I hope none of that is relevant anymore because standards have improved.)

Anyway. In the same limb, I sometimes summarize myself (a public adoptee) as a shelter puppy, rather than one of from a breedist puppy mill. So I was wondering - what are your feelings on overseas adoptions?

howlowcanIg014 karma

I'm supportive of anyone wanting to take in a child that needs love, care, and support.

My loyalty isn't just to 'our' children instead of 'theirs'. All I want to say absolutely 'NO' to is people selling babies for profit. It's absolutely sick.

Shesaidshewaslvl187 karma

hey! thanks for responding.

For my parents, it was that they got too old. They couldn't keep up anymore. They had raised 4 of their own, fostered all the others and then tried to raise the 5 of us. Their health suffered greatly and in their old age now, they can't even enjoy their retirement years because their health is so bad.

howlowcanIg09 karma

That really sucks. I hope that at least some of those 200 are still around to remind them of the difference they made.

iamaredditer28 karma

I am really glad that you are part of the foster system. I had a good friend that was placed in 31 different foster homes. He and his sister were removed from the mother and she later committed suicide. He was 4 and sister was under 2. His sister was adopted but he wasn't. After being in a couple different foster homes he was sexually abused by one of the foster parents. He was removed when it was discovered but the damage had been done.

He was angry and fought a lot. Then when he was like 13 he was in a gifted and talented program. The school say how smart he was. Some how are another (not sure how because he told me once and doesn't really talk about it at all) Duke university had a special program they wanted him to be part of. He didn't go for whatever reason instead he stayed living at a new foster home where they used him for manual labor. Roofing houses mainly.

Finally after several more homes he was placed with his current adopted parents. They were in their 50's. He said when he first got to their home he was still pissed off at the world. Fighting in school getting expelled several times. So his Now dad had him go to his computer repair shop he owned. He began learning from his Dad and they spent more and more time with each other. His dad was able to finally get through and help him find something he enjoyed. Said he was use to never having any money and was shocked after getting expelled from school and working for his dad he got a paycheck. His father told him "Listen I will help you in any way but you have to start trying at home and quit fighting at school. He did. Then after like 6 months they asked him would you like to be a perm member of our family. Said that these two people are the only people that he ever considered himself loved by.

Fast fwd to today he is still working with his dad. His dad is disabled now and works the counter while he does everything else. He doesn't get paid a whole lot and could honestly make 4 x what he does now, but no way.

I actually knew this guy for five years and we would see each other regularly but never talked too much but one day we got drunk and found out that we really share a lot of common interest. But man it is very hard to get into his world. So i'm sure that in all honesty I can say thank you for doing this service.

howlowcanIg010 karma

That's a really sad story. They were finding that in the 70s and 80s there was no where near the oversight that we have now. Sexual abuse may still happen, but it is a lower percentage than normal families or at least I'm told.

sexyladypants2 karma

[deleted]

howlowcanIg02 karma

I have had one foster child strike another foster child, and I've heard about one who pushed another child down the stairs. That's some scary stuff.

mlgtx14 karma

Thank you for this IAmA and what you do!

As someone who is very interested in becoming a foster parent, did both you and your partner want to become foster parents or was it one more than the other? What was the process like becoming one?

Thanks!

howlowcanIg017 karma

As someone who is very interested in becoming a foster parent, did both you and your partner want to become foster parents or was it one more than the other? What was the process like becoming one?

And THIS is why I did the AMA ;-)

My wife and I both wanted to be Foster parents, but didn't know the other wanted it. When my wife brought it to me, I set up an appointment to go check it out!

The process:

There are 2 ways to become a foster parents, but the process is pretty much the same.

You can go through a licensed agency (usually private Christian agencies. See http://www.hope-for-tomorrow.com/ or the biggest one that I know of www.arrow.org/. We started with Arrow and then moved to HFT. Arrow is a great organization, but we liked HFT better because of a staff person we knew.

If you go through a private agency, you have a little more paperwork and a little less money from the state in stipend to take care of the kids. BUT, (big but) if you have an investigation, the agency is almost always in your corner. They'll abandon you and leave you in the dirt if you are guilty, but if you are innocent, they will go to bat for you.

The other option is to be licensed directly by the state. I did not go this route, so I don't have much to say about it. From what I understand, you have less oversight (one less visit a month since the agency won't do visits) and a little less documentation, but you don't have someone advising you about your rights as a foster parent.

Your primary job as a foster parent is to fight for what is best for the child. If you think they need speech therapy and the cps agent doesn't.. you need to keep fighting.

That aside.

Step one is ALOT of training. 30 hours per parent. This has to be completed annually. You also have to get cpr and first aid certified as as well as BCMT (how to control the child if they are uncontrollable.. wrap them up and hold them close so they cna't swing fists or hit you with their head. I've NEVER had to use this.)

Then you had to do a Home study. they come into your home and interview everyone over 5. They ask VERY personal questions.. how is your sex life.. They are trying to pull out information on whether someone might be a pedophile as well as to check your overall mental health. "how does your spouse deal with anger." "Tell me a story about when your husband yelled at you last."

Then you get licensed! Then comes the hard part.. the waiting. We waited for nearly 3months before we got our first placement. That's the part that is scary. have you cell phone on you at ALL TIMES or you will miss out on opportunities.

psuedonymously11 karma

Can I add that this varies from state to state; not all states allow private agencies to oversee foster care. At least the state I'm in now doesn't.

Also, at least in the state where I used to work, plenty of the private agencies were non-profit but NOT religious. I mention this because, you know, this is reddit.

Source: former foster care social worker.

howlowcanIg03 karma

Absolutely! if you have more insight elsewhere, please, throw it in!

morpen13 karma

Hey, foster brother here from Georgia! It's so cool to see other foster families on reddit. We've had upwards of 30 placements and are hoping to adopt one of our current kids. Anyways, here's my questions.

Giving a child back to their parents is always tough on me. What was the hardest time you had giving a kid up, and why?

What was the worst child you've ever fostered?

Because of our family dynamic, we only accept kids under 5 years of age. What's your favorite age group?

Did you have to learn to do black people hair? We did. It's way different than white people hair.

Aren't those stupid credit hours so darn annoying?

howlowcanIg012 karma

Giving a child back to their parents is always tough on me. What was the hardest time you had giving a kid up, and why?

I wrote about it earlier in this thread, but we had a boy who was essentially slave labor to an impoverished family. We knew if he went back home that he would end up dropping out of school. He went home.. and he did drop out of school. That was really hard. I really think he shouldn't have gone home to his family. He would have been much better off staying with us.

What was the worst child you've ever fostered?

Definitely "G" She slapped and screamed and was completely unreasonable. She was really sweet when she wanted something or when she was getting what she wanted. She would call us 'mommy and 'daddy'. The moment she went crazy we were back to 'howlowcanIg0" and "wife's first name."

Because of our family dynamic, we only accept kids under 5 years of age. What's your favorite age group?

Young is always easier (1-7). Middle is more fun(7-13). and Older is usually more rewarding(13-18). We've come to the point that we are only taking the middle and older though. We don't like the diaper changing and bed wetting anymore :-)

Did you have to learn to do black people hair?

Actually no! Good question though. The only black kids we've gotten were teenagers and did their own hair.

Aren't those stupid credit hours so darn annoying?

Very much so!

puredemo5 karma

What ended up happening to G?

Sounds like reactive attachment disorder..

howlowcanIg012 karma

She had a baby and it got taken away by CPS. She's living with her boyfriend about 2 hours away and hasn't been back to school. She has called asking for money a few times, but I've always said no. I got her a Christmas and a Birthday gift, but I won't start handing out money just because I care.

paintedstarfish13 karma

What is the most common challenge you have when getting to know your foster children? Have they accepted you easily, or did it take a long time and the building of trust?

howlowcanIg022 karma

What is the most common challenge you have when getting to know your foster children?

Every kid is very different in this department. but I would say the most common problem was: lying. Age 8 - 14 REALLY want to be accepted. They want you to think they are best thing since sliced bread. We call this the honeymoon period. They are on their best behavior and do things that are nothing like them at all. Their favorite food is whatever you are making at the time, they say and do things only because they think it will court your favor, and they tell fake stories that never happened. Obviously not ever kid did this, but more did than did not.

It took us about 6 months to discover that "k"'s favorite meal wasn't baked chicken. In fact, she hated it.

Have they accepted you easily, or did it take a long time and the building of trust?

The very young children tend to bond in about a week. We got two sisters at 11 months and 2 and a half years old. They were calling the social worker, "daddy." The very next day, I was daddy. They were a really sad story, but a big success. We have adopted them and now they are 5 and 4. When "L" came to us she knew about 10 words at 2 and a half. her little sister "H" was absolutely the power child for Reactive Attachment Disorder. She would cry all day and nothing could console her. She would not EVER make eye contact with anyone. After about 6 months she shook out of it, but it was a very scary time for us.

froggybean8 karma

How does one "shake out" of a Reactive Attachment Disorder?

howlowcanIg013 karma

When we treated her like a human being instead of a doll that should be 'contained'. (CPS believes she was left in a car seat inside the house most of the day so she wouldn't be under foot.) She started to make eye contact instead of dodging and avoiding it. She stopped crying for no reason, and started to cry when her needs weren't being met or during an emotional moment. She started to communicate instead of just screaming. She started seeking out relationships with us instead of just staying by herself and isolating herself.

This is what I mean.

wfleming53712 karma

do you have any kids of your own? what is the family dynamic like? is it painful when they get placed, and you need to give them up? You are doing a wonderful thing. thank you for doing this.

howlowcanIg027 karma

do you have any kids of your own?

Yes, we have one biological girl and we have one on the way ;-) She's due in one month.

what is the family dynamic like?

We only have 3 kids in the house all the time. Two we adopted and then our biological. All of them are under 6 years old, so they love it when we have 'new brothers and sisters". Our 6 year old "L" will frequently ask when we will be getting a new big sister :-). it is very cute.

is it painful when they get placed, and you need to give them up?

Yes and no. What it really comes down to is where they are going. I think we have had only one of our 10 that we would not have straight up adopted and made our own. If their biological homes are not destructive, abusive, hateful or scary, it isn't so bad when they go away. We cry a little bit and write them a few letters. We always take their calls if they call. Eventually the communication stops and we move on.

When they are going back to a ghetto with a mom who only sometimes takes her medication, it is much harder. We've had a stand off with CPS once about sending a 17 year old boy (black if that matters) back to the ghetto. His mom makes him work and give her his paycheck. Going back there meant he would drop out of school. CPS took him anyway, and he did drop out of school to help the family. I really wish things could have been different with him.

You are doing a wonderful thing. thank you for doing this.

markofkain16 karma

|do you have any kids of your own?

May I recommend you say "Do you have any biological children?" instead of asking if someone has any of their own.

howlowcanIg012 karma

Thank you. My brother once told me that I wouldn't be a 'real' parent until the only thing stopping me from killing them was love.

He was referring to the law looking over my shoulder all the time. I just wanted to throttle him.

You would be amazing how unsupportive your family will be about choosing this lifestyle.

Axwellington8811 karma

just wanted to say, that my family fostered many many many kids since the time i was a child.. me and my biological brother, father and mother shared our lives with a lot of people. We ended up adopting a girl when i was 10 and iv had the best sister in the world for the past 14 years :) there have been sacrifices, im sure you are aware of fully, but they have been absolutely worth it to see some of these guys find the support they need from the people that can give it to them.. I personally wont be a foster parent when I have kids, but I am grateful to have been apart of one growing up. Just wanted to say good for you for taking in people who in no parts their own, have unfortunate family circumstances!

howlowcanIg07 karma

You are the person that I hope my girls are later in life. I really hope my kids don't feel about me what shesaidshewaslvl18 feels about her/his family later in life.

Can I ask you a question? What did your parents to make her feel just as welcome and loves as the rest of the biological children?

Axwellington887 karma

Well, I have had so many people come in and out of my life.. I wont say it was 200, but it was a lot.. i remember most of them. They usually stayed for several weeks at a time.. but plenty have stayed for longer, years even. I remember feeling slightly neglected by my own parents.. and jealous. I remember telling them that after a long time and my mother telling me that she loves me more than anything in the world.. and as much as i love her, these kids want the same thing.. and they dont have it. She asked me if I wanted more people to have a family like i did.. and i said yes. she just reminded me that I was her priority in the end, but sharing can be better than keeping things to yourself. But there IS a limit... when you neglect your own kids.. thats time that you shifted your focus on what is important. Dont be fucking stupid and take in teenage girls while you have boys the same age, they will most likely fool around..lol. Also, I know exactly what Shesaidshewaslv18 is talking about. Living beyond your means in terms of raising children. Dont neglect your own kids.

As for my adopted sister, my parents tried making her feel loved just as much as us.. but it took awhile. Just treating them the same, telling them you love them. Telling them that a family is more than blood, its more about love. I have blood relatives I couldnt give two shits about, but my sister I would die for.

howlowcanIg05 karma

You're my kinda people, smalls

;-)

i_am_the_fish9 karma

No questions but thank you for taking care of these kids and doing such a vital service. Kudos to you!

howlowcanIg012 karma

No problem! If you've ever thought about it, I would definitely suggest looking in to it. about 10% of all foster kids age out of the system. This means that most of them have no where to spend Christmas or don't know who to call when buying a car and looking for advice.

SQLDave8 karma

Former foster parent here: Did you ever have issues of food hoarding? We had a couple of kids for a few months. After they went back home, we found half eaten sandwiches, crackers, bread, etc. under the older (about 8 yo) boy's bed.

Apparently it's quite common because a lot of kids come from homes where food is in short supply. It hit me right in the feels.

howlowcanIg09 karma

Former foster parent here: Did you ever have issues of food hoarding? We had a couple of kids for a few months. After they went back home, we found half eaten sandwiches, crackers, bread, etc. under the older (about 8 yo) boy's bed

We were warned this might happen, but I never had to deal with it.

I did have a 14 year old girl who stank like nothing you've ever seen before. She would get in the shower... but what she did in there no one knows. Her room would strike you like a freight train. She was sexually abused by her older brother and her mom's boyfriend. She was really sweet, but but she had a bunch of vices. She lied all the time about things that did not matter. If you left money out, she would take it. She claimed alot of clothes left over from our runaway that DID NOT fit her. She said, "no, this is mine.. I brought it with me."

No, "K", you did not. I bought that for "S" 6 months ago. If you need a belt, let's go buy you a belt. Don't try and steal it from someone else."

SQLDave10 karma

Wow. We were lucky in never having had to deal with sexual abuse, but from our training and stories others told us, your experience seems dead on. The worst we had was a little girl who witnessed her (step?)dad "accidentally" kill her baby sibling. We had to threaten to quit the system to finally get them to provide counseling for her.

Thanks for what you do, and good luck!

howlowcanIg05 karma

You gotta fight for them! You did the right thing. Never take the first No as an answer!

catiebug7 karma

As foster parents, how do you feel about the stigma that the system holds?Many people automatically assume foster care = abuse, neglect, and lack of affection. How do you combat that or do you just ignore it?

howlowcanIg024 karma

As foster parents, how do you feel about the stigma that the system holds?

Thank you for asking this question. I hate it. Our kids are always clean, and they have nice clothes. Why? Because we go buy them nice clothes. Most of the kids that arrived at our house do so with a garbage bag full of rags, if with anything at all. You would never know that they were foster unless you asked.

Many people automatically assume foster care = abuse, neglect, and lack of affection.

This and one other thing. I cannot believe how many people have said to me, "yeah, but you wouldn't do it if you weren't getting paid." Seriously, sooo many people have said that aloud. It basically comes down to $600 a child. Any child over 8 is going to run you deficit. Every single teenager we've had has cost us more than we've received. Every. Single. One. So get that out of your head, America. It is not worth the money to be a foster parent for profit. You would have to run a group home. Both parents stay home, and you taken in 12 kids. 95% of all Foster homes do not fit these parameters.

How do you combat that or do you just ignore it?

Honestly, I mostly ignore it. I treat each one as I would if it was my biological daughter. I am interested in their school activities, we talk to them over the dinner table, we incorporate them into (mandatory) game night on Sundays. I am active in their school work and every single teacher knows who I am on sight. I combat it by being the exact opposite. We would love nothing more than to have each and every kid keep our contact information and let us be a part of their lives forever.

TattoosNgirlyHearts8 karma

I was a foster child off and on until I became a legal adult. I can honestly tell you there are ways to make money off of kids, and it is most often rarely buying them any clothes and not allowing them to do anything that cost any money. Quite a few foster homes use kids for chores, and keep the extra money each month. I wish and hope more foster parents are more like you these days.

howlowcanIg05 karma

I'm really sorry that this happened to you. We NEVER make our kids wear any lower quality than their peers. That is not to say we buy Tommy Hilfiger everything. Our kids always have their hair done and nice, clean clothes on. Mostly this is my wife :-). She doesn't ever want them to get the bad end of the stick because they are 'foster'.

puredemo3 karma

What are their favorite games nowadays? Do you teach them chess / card games, etc?

howlowcanIg04 karma

Shoots and ladders with the younger ones, force 10 with the older ones, and Memory for the whole family as a whole. I try and teach all of my kids ASL as I am fluent.

Aspergent7 karma

[deleted]

howlowcanIg06 karma

yes, absolutely.

There are 4 ratings.

http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/PCS/rates_childcare_reimbursement.asp

Most kids are a basic or a moderate.

Basic - about 600 per month (22.15 per day)

Moderate - 1000 per month (38.77 per day)

Specialized - 49.85

Intense - 88.62 (this is normally a quadraplegic or a child who is reserved to a bed.. EVERYTHING must be done for them.

I've never had a specialized or an intense.

quietbbw7 karma

You are a godsend. Thank you for doing what you do. We need more foster parents like you.

howlowcanIg05 karma

I'll show you where to sign up... ;-)

quietbbw3 karma

Im working on my msw. ill be working for cps when done. Ill eventually be a foster parent.

howlowcanIg03 karma

Awesome! I believe in you!

woodisj6 karma

Have there been any kids who were just absolutely out of control? If so, what were they like?

howlowcanIg06 karma

I've only had one, and she was more of a hit and miss. It was only when she wasn't getting her way. It was VERY frustrating. I would try and speak rationally and calmly, but she would just keep screaming. She was very hard to deal with. We really struggled about sending her back, but she took that decision out of our hands when she ran away on a visit home with her biological family. Life hasn't been good to her. She had a baby with a boyfriend and cps has taken it away for neglect. I really hope she's able to get things back to gether for her own future's sake.

not_now_plz6 karma

From your experience, have you seen a lot of success with single foster parent homes?

Have you ever been put in a situation where you weren't properly prepared to deal with it?

Are you able to request certain parameters? For example, can you say that you're not comfortable being placed with children who have certain violent behaviors or disabilities that you don't feel you would be able to serve well? If so, how good is the agency about following through on those requests?

Did you ever have any concerns about your personal safety or your belongings? I mean both from the child and the child family.

I know a lot of these questions sound negative, and I don't mean for them to be. This is something I'm actually interested in doing myself, but I never had an avenue to ask about these types of questions to really make sure I know what I'd be getting myself into.

howlowcanIg07 karma

From your experience, have you seen a lot of success with single foster parent homes?

Yes and no. The biggest thing that you'll EVER need when you take on foster care is a supportive friend/family base. I mean your friends need to be LIKE family. They need to be supportive of the decision and WANT to be involved. You are going to need a break from time to time, but the state says you have to leave them with licensed individuals. Above 21 with cpr and first aid and your agency will probably require a background check. I've been doing foster care for nearly 5 years, and my extended family is still not licensed. This means we next to NEVER get private time outside the house.

If you are a single parent, but have the support of all your friends and family.. you'll be better than a two parents family who has no support at all.

Does that make any sense at all?

Have you ever been put in a situation where you weren't properly prepared to deal with it?

Yes! All the time :-). "K" would go in the bathroom, and run shower water... but her room and herself smelled like urine and feet. What do you do? Do you send your wife to go make sure she showers? Sounds like that could land you in jail or something, right?!

We called our agency, and they offered some advice. Some of it worked and some of it didn't. We put in a reward system across the house for clean and non smelly room. Sometimes she worked hard to change her socks and sometimes she poured $70 perfume all over herself instead. (we didn't let that happen more than once.) The most important thing was to not give up or start to retract from her. She was sexually abused, and to some degree, I imagine she would have fixed this particular problem in a single or double female parent environment.

Did you ever have any concerns about your personal safety or your belongings? I mean both from the child and the child family.

My belongings.. no. If he/she steals something, that is just a cost of opening your home to others. The child's family is another story. We don't let them know where we live, and I have a security system on the house and a shotgun in the gun safe. It has never been an issue, but it is something I worry about.

I know a lot of these questions sound negative, and I don't mean for them to be. This is something I'm actually interested in doing myself, but I never had an avenue to ask about these types of questions to really make sure I know what I'd be getting myself into.

Ask away! I"m glad to help!

not_now_plz5 karma

Thank you for such an in depth response.

You actually covered something else I was wondering. How big is your close family/friend extended network? How well do they integrate your foster children into their family activities and life. I was also going to ask how important extended family/friends relationships are for the children, but you covered that part.

We don't let them know where we live,

I'm surprised this is doable. With the child involved with his/her family and how easy it is to be an internet detective, it seems hard to keep that kind of info secure.

Are you able to request certain parameters? For example, can you say that you're not comfortable being placed with children who have certain violent behaviors or disabilities that you don't feel you would be able to serve well? If so, how good is the agency about following through on those requests?

howlowcanIg06 karma

I'm surprised this is doable. With the child involved with his/her family and how easy it is to be an internet detective, it seems hard to keep that kind of info secure.

It's not a guarantee by any means. If you googled my name, you get to the zipcode and city, but not the physical address. It really wouldn't be hard from them to 'follow' us home at some point from a visit.

Let's not even forget that when we have teenagers, they could just tell them. It's against the rules and stated that way, but that is definitely an unenforceable rule.

Are you able to request certain parameters? For example, can you say that you're not comfortable being placed with children who have certain violent behaviors or disabilities that you don't feel you would be able to serve well? If so, how good is the agency about following through on those requests?

You have the end power during placement. They have to provide you with their CPS history to review. You can say no at any time before actual placement. Then you are stuck for one month. You have to get one months notice before returning a child. They will call you with alot of information to begin with.

"Hello, not_now_plz, This is Tina with You_Agency. I have 3 boys who need to be placed today, are you interested?"

you: "Hmm, what ages?"

"10, 8, and 4"

you: "anything I need to know about?"

"Let me look at the file. The 10 year old appears to have sexually abused and is a bit of a bully. he has been moved schools 3 times and their psychiatrist says he is suffering from accute PTSD. That's all I see."

you: "I'm not sure if my family is equipped to deal with that."

"No problem!"

That being said... I've never had a file that really told me the whole story. Sometimes the kid is super sweet, but wasn't so sweet two years ago.. and sometimes the kid is in a really rough spot because their dad died and is normally awesome, but behaving like a twerp.

I'll tell what I tell everyone. If it something you want to try. Try it. Limit yourself at first to younger less troublesome ages and then expand with time as you get more experienced as a parent. Are you going to see things you normally wouldn't? Sure. Someone has to do it, and these kids really do need someone like you.

littlejilly5 karma

Why did you decide to start fostering children?

howlowcanIg012 karma

My wife and I both had felt like it was a great way to try and make a difference in people's lives. After we were married for about 2 years, she brought it up. I always liked the idea so we showed up to an introductory training class. They talked about what day to day life would be with the miles upon miles of documentation. Then they showed us a pretty emotionally manipulative video of a guy graduating college and hugging his foster parents and telling everyone that they were the reason he wasn't in a gang.

We were hooked. :-)

TolerantChristian5 karma

What went behind your thinking to adopt the 2 children? I plan to be a foster parent someday and that seems like it'd be the hardest part: choosing which, if not all, of the kids we wanted to adopt?

howlowcanIg05 karma

Honestly, we would want to adopt each... when out house is full, we stop foster care. We've only had the opportunity to adopt 2, so we only adopted those 2. The rest didn't have parental rights terminated, or they were old enough that they were opposed to adoption. The state won't force a child older than 14 to be adopted if he/she doesn't want to. They will force him to go see a psychiatrist until he changes his mind though ;-).

Rahrahraccoon5 karma

My Fiancee and I are planning on becoming Foster Parents one day but I am a little nervous. Is it difficult to have patience or understanding when their behaviour can be so difficult?

howlowcanIg03 karma

I think the biggest issue is when their actions don't seem to follow any logical chain of thought. Sometimes a child will break something just for the sake of getting in trouble. They WANT to be punished, and this is because the only attention they ever got before was negative attention. They are asking for you attention, but don't differentiate between negative and positive attention.

There is no way around this. It just takes time.

It's important to remember that we don't always shave patience and understanding. Sometimes we have to tag ourselves out.

"Honey, I'm about to kill the oldest."

"Oh, gosh, what happened? I'll go handle it."

The biggest and most important thing to EVER remember when parenting (I learned this the hard way).

Do not REACT in regards to punishment. Let some time go by before you do punishment yourself. If 8 year old boy breaks your dead grandma's urn, let your partner do the punishment on that one.

98% of the time, it was not personal, but you are going to react as if it was. Does that make sense?

banditt25 karma

Me and my wife have been foster parents for about 5-6 years ourselves. We have had 12 placements all except 4 have gone back to their families. The two brothers we have now we plan on adopting.

howlowcanIg09 karma

Awesome! Feel free to answer questions as well if you have more experience in one area than I do!

What State?

buttons3014 karma

You sound like an amazing person. Thank you so much for all that you do!

howlowcanIg06 karma

Now... don't you want to be amazing too? ;-)

buttons3013 karma

I may adopt one day! I was thinking about a child with special needs. :)

howlowcanIg03 karma

That's really awesome! May I suggest learning sign language? It's good for not only deaf children, but also verbally and the hearing impaired.

article224 karma

Ever have any kids that you can't wait to get rid of?

howlowcanIg010 karma

Yes, unfortunately. We had a teenage girl for about 4 months. She was fine as long as she was getting her way, but if you told her no you had to hold on to your socks. She screamed at us (never hit us.. i think she was scared of me), threw dishes, and she slapped our middle (4 year old was 3 year old at the time).

We had to call her case worker out several times. Threatening to send her back to the shelter (problem kid house.. more like juvie than a home..) was usually enough to keep her in line (we never threatened, her case worker did.) We had her case worker on SPEED DIAL.

After about 3 months, she 'ran away'. It's weird how we know exactly where she is, as does the state, but no one can go get her.

zpgnbg5 karma

My family fostered a 12 year old boy for a few weeks before he became too much to handle. He had told the foster people that he had been sexually abused by his brother and had been beaten by his parents. It turned out that he was just a spoiled little brat that acted up every time he didn't get his own way and he lied about the abuse. Have you encountered similar children?

howlowcanIg06 karma

Yes and no.

I have had to deal with compulsive liars, but most of the time the lies are denials. "Daddy never touched me."

Well I've seen your folder. Your dad is in prison for it. (real scenario).

zpgnbg3 karma

Ahh, I thought it would be more common, but maybe we just got a bad seed.

If I remember correctly, he was an 'emergency case' and had been removed due to allegations that were not proven yet (no test had been done on the boy, the brother was not taken into care with him and the parents were being investigated) He was sent back home after we couldn't handle him.

howlowcanIg04 karma

Thanks for being willing to take him even for that short period of time.

article222 karma

Where is she?

howlowcanIg07 karma

She is staying with her boyfriend. Since she left us she has had a baby and had CPS take it away. (talk about a cycle) She hasn't been back to school since the day we picked her up and then dropped her off for a family visit.

article224 karma

What age is she?

howlowcanIg04 karma

She's 17 now. She was 16 when we had her.

random__douche4 karma

Thank you for the work that you do. I'm assuming you've seen children who are the result of neglect, fetal alcohol syndrome or exposure to drugs in the womb. What's your opinion of charities who will pay addicts a sum of money in exchange for being sterilised?

howlowcanIg05 karma

Thank you for the work that you do. I'm assuming you've seen children who are the result of neglect, fetal alcohol syndrome or exposure to drugs in the womb. What's your opinion of charities who will pay addicts a sum of money in exchange for being sterilised?

I've never really thought of it. I have seen quadraplegic children who were shaken as babies. It is really messed up.

I guess I don't have a problem with it if the addicts are advised by a doctor or a lawyer. "Sir, do you understand you will never be able to have children again after taking this money?"

"Yes,"

"Sign here, here, here, and 26 other places."

I just don't want people being taken advantage of.

edu_gon954 karma

What is the toughest part of being a foster parent compared to being an actual parent?

howlowcanIg015 karma

There are a lot of different things really. I would say the biggest DIFFERENCE is time. You have visitation with the biological family once a week. You have psychiatrist appointments at least every other week. You have one meeting with the case director every month as well as your agency officer both in your house. You can have surprise inspections by the state at any time. You have to get 30 hours of training done per year as well as stay current in cpr and first aid as well as BCMT. (both of which are a full saturday of classes)

Also, you have to have a relationship with the biological family. Most of them hate you instantly and for no other reason than the fact that you have their children. We got a complaint filed on us for taking them to the doctor too much. "They were never this sick when they lived with us."

A minor thing, but it is a thing. You can't cut their hair. That is a biological parent preference. Frustrating when they won't take care of it :-(.

RaijinKit11 karma

I've actually heard several tales as to why foster parents have no control over haircuts. One of our former foster parents (she retired after the last kid grew out) cut the really, really long hair of a boy she had just received, in an attempt to make him more presentable for court. Turns out, the boy was Cherokee and it's of special significance to have long hair in that particular culture. The bio grandmother was devastated when she arrived to adopt him herself!

howlowcanIg08 karma

Wow, makes me second guess how much I hate that rule..

oystersandclams4 karma

Do you ever worry about the older children emotionally/sexually/physically abusing the younger children or your own children? I absolutely hate this stereotype, but it's so pervasive that it has deterred me from becoming a foster parent (for now at least)

howlowcanIg05 karma

Do you ever worry about the older children emotionally/sexually/physically abusing the younger children or your own children? I absolutely hate this stereotype, but it's so pervasive that it has deterred me from becoming a foster parent (for now at least)

Unfortunately, yes. It has absolutely swayed us from taking a few older boys. We still review each case by case, but if there is any sign of sexual abuse, we instantly turn them down. We also watch anyone male/female who comes into our home for the first few months.

It is a big concern of ours. I would say that you should try it, but specify an age group that youa re comfortable with. As you feel more comfortable, you can open up to other age groups. That's what we did, and now we take the 'hard ones'. We've had 2 pregnant teenage girls.

puredemo2 karma

We've had 2 pregnant teenage girls.

Did you end up taking care of the babies as well once they were born, how did that work?

howlowcanIg04 karma

The plan was always to take care of the babies too.

When the baby is born it gets placed in our care under cps insurance, but not under investigatory care.

this means that when Mom leaves, she is free to take her baby with her. Until she does something to prove she is unfit to care for it, CPS will not hinder her from possession of her children. In both instances, the pregnant mother left our care before the baby was born. We were really disappointed. We really think that helping the mother's care for their children would have been a great life lesson about the importance of education and nurturing. Both of which are understated in their previous life.

bluebook1233 karma

Are there any "tragic" stories with some of the children'ss parents, like in the movies?

mrgreyshadow6 karma

Former foster child here.

What do you think? It's exactly like a Lifetime movie, but with no happy endings and the characters have more dimensions and are a lot less pretty. Personally, I hate my life. And I'm 23. I admire how happy Mr. Foster Parent is, though.

Father: Raped older sister over long period of time; kept crazy mother drugged; maintained physically abusive authority over all family members.

Mother: Schizophrenic hippie lady who didn't (still doesn't) take meds for it.

Oh, and just for fun so no one starts believing this shit is a cakewalk?

Adoptive father: Pedophile who liked little boys (he's in jail)

Adoptive mother: Bitchy authoritarian fat Mormon girl.

Both appeared to be in it for the stipend. Neither were qualified, grownups or realistic. They were guided by their upbringings (probably fucked up too) and dog training books. They didn't punish us with corporal punish unless it didn't leave a mark, but they did take away everything we owned - we foster kids are touchy about our things because it's hard to keep them in sudden moves from home to home, and between clepto foster brothers. We were forced to do useless manual labor (move cinderblock back and forth from end to end of the yard, repeat), to sit in rooms with no entertainment and a sleeping bag on a hard room (this was "being grounded" for us) to stare at the ceiling and knock for bathroom breaks ("No, you're faking it"), and any attempts to leave these environments or speak were given another week. Solitary confinement. Always attrition. We were like horses to break or something. Corner standing for hours ("nose in the corner" and smell the paint or you get another hour, bathroom runs cost you another hour "faker") and yes ma'am yes sirs or you get all the chores in the house. Clip your nails or nails painted to go to school tomorrow. Copy the same page in the book over and over again.

There are geneva conventions against this shit, and that's what I got out of the system. We got barely any justice out of it. Do you think these assholes feel ashamed? "The system" of social workers and caretakers is dealing with so many cases exactly like mine that it doesn't register drop for the bucket. I can't sue Washington State for compensation.. Hell, I can't legally prove much of this shit happened to me. But it did. So I remain pretty much completely cynical about foster care and adoption systems.

As far as creative non-corporal punishment, it was the same situation for our other foster parents, but they weren't as bad. I suppose the amount of oversight has changed... Maybe mandatory psychiatrist appointments would reveal the secret sexual abuse not disclosed since our new "real" parents decided this was best left undisclosed.

But anyway, if you ever talk to somebody who has needed social workers, they have worse life stories than soap operas. They're like greek tragedy. To answer your question.

howlowcanIg03 karma

Wow, I am so sorry. I really hope that karma bites all of those people in the ass. Did you tell your caseworker?

"meaningless labor" is absolutely against the rules now. "move that hill over here."

Oversight has changed ALOT in the last 20 years.

dotsand-dashes3 karma

Have you done an AMA before? Sounds like you could provide a lot of insight too.

mrgreyshadow3 karma

Meh. I sound novel, but I'm not that special.

I'm just bitter. It's a Holden Caulfield thing - a large part of me thinks everyone must be phony to feel optimistic about this adoption bullshit.

Like.. For example, the word "adoption" was how I'd win staring contests in elementary school and junior high. I could let all the happiness run out of my face and frown when I thought of "adoption," or also "foster care." It's no picnic, but maybe it's getting better.

howlowcanIg02 karma

I'd read your book. I really do hope that those people get what is coming to them.

howlowcanIg02 karma

oh yeah.

Mom was sexually abused as a child by several of mom's boyfriends which landed her in foster care. She gets pregnant and her boyfriend drops out of college to join the Air Force to support her. They get married and he goes off to bootcamp. She stays with a mentor from highschool who tried to adopt her while she was in foster care. Hubby gets stationed in San Antonio and tells wife to come out from New York. Mentor leaves his wife and comes down with her and stays with Hubby and wife. Wifey gets pregnant again and hubby goes to serve a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Wifey makes sex videos with several men and sends alot of solo videos to 'boys' in iraq and afghan. Then meets a boyfriends and starts to cheat. Hubby finds pornography of his wife floating around the shared drives in afghan and someone turns wifey into cps because oldest child is strapped in a carseat in the background watching while video is being made (almost 2). Hubby gets sent home to deal with family issues and does paternity test... neither child is his. boyfriend does paternity test, not his either. Mentor is the daddy of both. He dropped out of school, married, her and joined the military to take care of somone else's kid. Daddy ditches everyone and mentor goes to prison as 1st child was conceived before she was 18.

This is the reader's digest version.. there is SO much more. And every single kid has a story somewhat like this, but with different problems.

Papaschmidt3 karma

Do any of the kids/teens you get have problems with drugs?

howlowcanIg010 karma

I haven't had any ongoing drug problems. Three of my teenagers were active drug users (only one did anything heavier than marijuana).

Taking them out of their element and putting them in a new city tends to curb the drug usage. They don't really know where to get it from, and they are under pretty tight observation.

I would say I've been lucky, but I don't think that drug addiction is really as prevalent as you might think. It's definitely a problem I'm delighted not to have had.

Broke_stupid_lonely3 karma

Why are kids moved from house to house? Or is that "in and out of foster homes" stigma actually false?

howlowcanIg012 karma

Unfortunately, it is absolutely true. The last statistics I saw on it said that an average foster kid goes through 5 placements in their time in the system.

It can happen for a lot of different reasons:

A. Parents get custody again.

This is the main reason, I would say. Kid gets taken from parents due to neglect and the kid gets put in an emergency placement home waiting for a foster home to be found. (that's one placement) The kid stays there for about a week and then gets moved into a foster home (placement two). He/She stays there for 11 months and mom or dad get their parenting classes and psych evals finished. Kid goes home to mom or dad. Fast forward 6 months. Teach finds kid stealing food from the snack bar. Kid says he didn't eat yesterday. CPS is called back out. and they get put back in emergency placement (placement 3) You see where I'm going with this.

B. Parents move.

Mom or dad moves 6 hours away. They are still entitled to weekly visits, so the state is required to relocate the kid closer so mom or dad can stay gainfully employed and still get weekly visitation. Then see above process of placements.

C. Foster parents fault

The kid doesn't mix well with a biological or foster child in the home. The Foster parents 'can't handle him' (almost always a cop-out in my opinion) and they send him back out. The foster parents lapse on their training and their certification is removed or they are getting out of Foster Care all together. Abuse that requires an investigation.

D. Kids Fault

The kid can also request to be moved if he doesn't like it (usually these are ignored as they are.. "They make me do chores.. i'm SLAVE LABOR HERE!", but if the kid cries loud enough he'll get his way. Crying wolf for abuse that requires an investigation. (note that not all cries are crying wolf which is why I listed it again under foster parents fault.)

That said... there are a hundred reasons why a kid would be moved. It is pretty likely that you'll hit one of these at some point. We had one of ours removed because I got a job an hour away. We offered to drive the difference and we got to keep her, but eventually the case worker arranged a removal because she didn't like having to drive an hour away to inspect the home once a month.

victoryvines8 karma

The Foster parents 'can't handle him' (almost always a cop-out in my opinion) and they send him back out.

Thank you for including the "almost." When I was 13, my foster brother (same age as me) pulled a knife on my 9-year-old sibling, over a Pokemon game. After that episode, the state decided to send us the rest of his file, including psych evaluations that they "forgot" to tell my parents about.

That boy shouldn't have been around young children. My parents couldn't just "not handle him," it was not okay to hide his background from us.

howlowcanIg03 karma

Absolutely, believe it or not, I added that right before I hit submit. I heard about a guy with my previous agency that pushed the bio daughter down the stairs. Yeah, that kid needs a home where he can't pick on people smaller than him.

Broke_stupid_lonely5 karma

Do you know how often the foster parents are abusive? I've read about it a lot but don't know if it's just a few sensationalized instances or a prevalent problem.

howlowcanIg09 karma

It depends on what you consider abusive really.

I am a supporter of corporal punishment, but not of beating.

Corporal punishment (spanking) is a calm explanation of what they've done wrong and how they can do better in the future with a clear understanding of who/how and why. Then a calm spanking (two MAYBE 3 swats on the behind) then an assurance that they aren't a bad kid.. they just made a bad choice.

And this isn't necessary after the age of say 6. At that point you can use grounding, time outs, and extra chores.

Unfortunately Brok_stupid_lonely is referring to 'beating' (spare the rod). This when the parent takes out their frustration of the child being disobedient in physical abuse.

When you are dealing with foster care, you can't spank. This is for more than just legality. You are dealing with a child who has not had a steady stream of positive attention. We crave attention and acknowledgment as people. When the only attention you get is when dad beats you.. you start to misbehave just so dad will give you the only love you understand. When you spank a child who is abused, you could be sending a COMPLETELY different message than the one you want to be sending. It's much better to follow the rules and stick to timeouts and taking away of toys.

Does that make sense?

fdtc_skolar7 karma

When I kept foster children, got a child transferred into my home from another foster home (that was being shutdown). The child had welts across his back from corporal punishment in his former home. Yes it does happen. Some people providing foster care (I am in SC) have deep fundamental religious convictions and are of the spare the rod mindset.

howlowcanIg02 karma

That really sucks. Did they get anything other than their license revoked?

4ecohgie3 karma

Have you read either of these blogs? They're my favourite Fosterhood pages:

What Now?

and

Fosterhood in NYC

howlowcanIg04 karma

I haven't read them yet.. but I'm going to start reading them now :-)

4ecohgie3 karma

What Now is probably the best blog I've ever visited. I read from start to finish in one weekend. It's not updated frequently, though. It captures more of the intimate struggles of fostering and adopting a troubled teen. Fosterhood in NYC is satisfyingly over-updated and has more to do with the struggles of juggling an inefficient system, since the author fosters very young children and, as a result is trying to navigate the often contradictory desires and impulses of connected adults (ACS, caseworkers, nurses, legal specialists, troubled birth parents, etc.). Hope that's a good beginners guide.

howlowcanIg02 karma

I wonder how much they tell. We were told in no uncertain terms that we can't share the kids past with anyone who knows who they are... This would allow them to move on from their past without it haunting them. It's why I am not using names :-(

moonablaze3 karma

What was the foster-to-adopt process like for you?

howlowcanIg02 karma

LONG, but I'm told that our situation is not normal. First you have to get licensed which can take as short as one month but more realistically will be 2 or 3 months. Then you have to be placed with one of two sections of children:

parental rights terminated (no parental rights remaining) They will stay with you for 6 months, and if you think they are a good fit for you family, you can start the paperwork. The paperwork will take another 2 or 3 months.

parental rights still exist - In this case, you are assigned a child that CPS believes they will be severing the parent's rights. This means that the parents have a standard year to go to the required classes and get their lives in order or they will lose their children. At the end of the year, CPS will fight to have their rights terminated. There will be a trial, and rights will be terminated or not. If terminated, you have already had the kids in your house for 6 months, so the adoption process can begin (still takes an additional two to 3 months) If rights aren't terminated, they will set requirements for parents to get the kids back. "show financial responsibility.. stay drug free for one year..." The children will then go home, or a new set of events will take place that they will try and sever parental rights again.

The normal Foster to Adopt takes a year and a half from placement. Our took about 3 years :-(

The adoption itself was actually free.. 100% free. The state paid for the lawyers and everything. Adopting straight is somewhere between 10 and 20k.

for us the hardest part was the 'not knowing'. There were 4 trials and we were not allowed to be inside any of them. Each trial was a chance our girls weren't going to be 'ours' anymore. It was really emotionally scary.

Alliebeth2 karma

I know someone who went through this with the opposite outcome. After having twins from when they were teeny tiny until they were 4, the bio parents got them back. It was an absolute mess and has pretty much scared me away from ever doing anything like it. The bio parents severed all contact asap and my friends marriage fell apart in the aftermath. I'm so glad it worked out for y'all, though. You're doing a great thing for the kids who come into your home.

howlowcanIg02 karma

I know this can be a traumatic thing.

The bio parents will almost always sever ties immediately. I've known a few sets of Bio parents to pretend on facebook as if their kids are still in the home while they are in your custody. You should have seen what Billy said to me today, "blah blah".

Really? Billy is right here... and you haven't seen him in two weeks.

dotsand-dashes2 karma

That's crazy. It's amazing what people will do to keep up the appearance of being a good parent...just shy of the actual "not abusing them" part.

howlowcanIg02 karma

It was actually REALLY funny. She would take pictures of them in like 6 different sets of clothes on her weekly visit, and then post them through the week as if they were happening today.

My wife and I just couldn't believe the steps she took to keep up the fa├žade.

2OQuestions3 karma

I just created an account to ask this. My husband and I would love to be foster parents, but how do you afford it? I know you don't make a ton of money, but have to have a flexible schedule for all the kids' appointments. Does one of you work full time while the other carpools? Also, we have lots of pets are have some fear that they might be abused by distressed children. Or we might falsely be accused of abuse or something. HOw do you deal with that?

howlowcanIg02 karma

just created an account to ask this. My husband and I would love to be foster parents, but how do you afford it?

I would say that the stipend from the state will pay for the child's needs, so you don't have to worry about that. if you both work full time, then the state will pay for their daycare too.

Does one of you work full time while the other carpools?

My wife is a stay at home mom, so she handles the visits and stuff. Most employers provide for a little time off to take them to appointments. Visitiation is normally on weekends, so you are avialable then. If you and your husband are both working, the CPS worker will pick them up from school and take them to parent based things. Doctor based things... you just have to take time off of work.

Pets

Can they be abused.. sure. is it likely? not really. You just need to be watching. We've had kids who have kicked them for getting in the way, (and they get punished for it too) but we've never had a child that took knives or matches to our animals. Most foster kids are just like the rest of us.. they just have some trust issues most of the time.

Or we might falsely be accused of abuse or something.

This is my biggest fear as a foster parent. 5 years running.. hasn't happened yet. Unless they can prove it, they'll just move the child to another home. If you have multiple kids making claims... they'll revoke your license regardless of proof.

chocolatelabz3 karma

Thank you OP for doing this AMA! I have read several books written by former children in Foster Care..I have read; "Another Place at the Table," ...."Three Little Words" ...."One Small Boat" (and a couple more) But all of them were riveting and sad to say the least. Just wondering if you've read any of these?

I was NOT in Foster care and I can't really explain why have such a profound interest in the subject. (Considering I've never been in Foster Care) But I do know, I'd like to be a Foster parent. (Both my fiance and I)

I do have some questions:

  • Do they want "married" couples only? Can we be Foster Parents even though we aren't technically married? We are parents. We've been together for 12 years.

  • Do we need to meet certain financial thresholds to become foster parents?

  • Are we able to say, for example: We would accept Female children under 7 yrs old? (We already have raised one girl now 22 and have another who is much younger.

  • Is the (and I realize it is minimal and hardly the point) money provided for the child/children on a monthly basis? Also, when you have a placement, are you given SNAP benefits for food separately or I should say in addition to any money they may provide to help care for the child?

  • Theoretically, a call could come at any time right? In the middle of the night? Has that happened to you?

  • How long is a typical placement or is every case different? Do they tell you on the phone (when asking if you can accept the placement) how long the placement would be for? Is it usually accurate?

  • When a child is brought to you, are you given a file that contains their medical history & a medical insurance card? If you had to bring the child to the doctors, I imagine you are given an insurance card?

  • Regarding schooling. If a school age child is placed with you and is from another city, are you given the authority (and any and all paperwork you would need that says they are under your guardianship) to enroll them in a local school?

  • Prior to accepting any child, does the worker give you the full background/history of the child? If the child has temper tantrums, anger/rage or depression. Or has suffered from physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual trauma. Are you given the information you need to prepare yourself or your home? Are you given this information freely so you can make an informed decision? Do they WANT you to know all of this or do you think they would try to avoid telling one certain things just to get the child placed?

  • Can one decline a placement based on the fact the child is a terror? Do you have to explain why you are declining? I just wonder if it would affect the likelihood of getting called again for a placement if you said no based on a child's severe behavioral problems.

  • Is there a certain amount of time that has to go by before you have the legal authority to legally adopt a child that has been placed with you, with no contact from any parents? in fact, do you have to deal with parents? Do you have to allow the parent to come to your home, or drive a child to theri home? I would think not, but you know better than me. I would think it would be up to the case worker? Do the parents find out where you live? I imagine there are times they don't want their child in Foster Care at all and the Foster Parent is looked at as the enemy. Do you ever feel unsafe?

Thanks again..I appreciate your AMA!!!!

howlowcanIg02 karma

Do they want "married" couples only? Can we be Foster Parents even though we aren't technically married? We are parents. We've been together for 12 years.

Some private agencys might not take you, but CPS would be fine with it! Their primary concern is to ensure it is a stable environment. 12 years together, you have proven to be VERY stable.

Do we need to meet certain financial thresholds to become foster parents?

I seem to recall doing a financial worksheet, but it was mostly to show that you aren't doing it for the money. As long as your income balances out the bills, you should be fine.

Are we able to say, for example: We would accept Female children under 7 yrs old? (We already have raised one girl now 22 and have another who is much younger.

You absolutely can!

How long is a typical placement or is every case different? Do they tell you on the phone (when asking if you can accept the placement) how long the placement would be for? Is it usually accurate?

Every case is different. I would say the average placement for us has been between a a month and 8 months. If they can tell you an estimate, it is pretty reliable. Most of the time they can't though.

When a child is brought to you, are you given a file that contains their medical history & a medical insurance card? If you had to bring the child to the doctors, I imagine you are given an insurance card?

They are on Medicaid, and yes, you are given a file with all of their background information in it including their medical. When you get done reading the binder, you'll know why they are in foster care.. get ready to cry for that kid.

Regarding schooling. If a school age child is placed with you and is from another city, are you given the authority (and any and all paperwork you would need that says they are under your guardianship) to enroll them in a local school?

Absolutely!, You are given placement papers that essentially give you full authority over the child for normal circumstances. Medical and stuff like that. It will NOT get you things like a passport ;-). For obvious reasons.

Prior to accepting any child, does the worker give you the full background/history of the child? If the child has temper tantrums, anger/rage or depression. Or has suffered from physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual trauma. Are you given the information you need to prepare yourself or your home? Are you given this information freely so you can make an informed decision? Do they WANT you to know all of this or do you think they would try to avoid telling one certain things just to get the child placed?

Good question! I have been with 2 agencies. I found that the first agency (maybe just that worker) would hide stuff and not tell the whole truth until I had signed, then they would give me the binder and I would discover all the things they left out. My new agency NEVER does that to me. They let me see the binder before I agree. This policy has robbed me of the opportunity to get some placements, but I like the honesty over all.

Can one decline a placement based on the fact the child is a terror? Do you have to explain why you are declining? I just wonder if it would affect the likelihood of getting called again for a placement if you said no based on a child's severe behavioral problems.

Absolutely, and that really stays between you and your agency. No one up in CPS is going to think, "this lady just doesn't want any child that isn't perfect!"

I'll answer the last one tonight. I am on my way to date with my wife!

iamaredditer3 karma

How does the state help compensate for all that you spend raising kids? How large is your home?

howlowcanIg05 karma

I'm in a 2200 4 bedroom home. We intentionally got a little larger since we knew that we were going to be a big family.

We do receive a stipend every month for the foster children. It isn't very much. We currently only have one child and it's about 620 a month I think.

dotsand-dashes3 karma

Under what circumstances do you have the option of adopting one of your foster kids? Are the biological parents' rights stripped by the time they get placed in foster care or do they have to consent to give them up?

EDIT: I thought of more questions! Do you choose what age group you take in, or do they make you take all ages? I'm kind of scared of teenagers...should I be?

Also, is this a full-time job for you? If not, what else do you do?

Thank you for doing this :) I'm thinking of going into foster care in the future, so I'm finding this post to be very informative.

howlowcanIg05 karma

Under what circumstances do you have the option of adopting one of your foster kids? Are the biological parents' rights stripped by the time they get placed in foster care or do they have to consent to give them up?

To adopt the child has to be in your home a minimimum of 6 months. The biological parents rights have to be removed and the parent has to have ample time to appeal. During the appeal process, you cannot adopt until the appeals are completed. This is why it took nearly 3 years to adopt our girls while most foster to adoptions take about half that time.

A parent can choose to give up their parental consent and this makes the process MUCH easier and MUCH faster. Otherwise the judge can strip them of their rights (or the jury.. depending on your perspective)

So in our case the mother lost her parental rights in March of 2009 but she appealed and we couldn't officially adopt until December of 2012.

EDIT: I thought of more questions! Do you choose what age group you take in, or do they make you take all ages? I'm kind of scared of teenagers...should I be?

You can specify down to the smallest detail. Just remember, the smaller your window is, the longer you'll wait. You can say, "I only want 5 to 10 year old boys" That's fine. You'll only get 5 to 10 year old boys, but if there is a 7 year old boy and his 9 year old sister... you aren't going to get a call. I find it is better to have a big window, and decline when you get the call. Have them list you as 3 to 13 boys and girls and then when a cps worker call and says they have a 12 year old girl, you say that you can't at this time. I always feel guilty when I say no mind you :-(.

also, is this a full-time job for you? If not, what else do you do?

Not a full time job at all! The money is NOT good enough to pay us to do this full time. If my wife and I turned out home into a group home... MAYBE we could keep ourselves going, but I doubt it. I really look down on group homes, but I've never run one. I really have no idea if they are as bad as I think they are. Group homes are usually run to pay the bills. The kids money is typically all that is keeping the home running. Foster care is the opposite. USUALLY, they adults have an outside source of income and they take the money from the government to help pay for the upkeep of the child. That's what we do.

I work for a very large computer company doing upper teir technical support and my wife is home-keeper.

Thank you for doing this :) I'm thinking of going into foster care in the future, so I'm finding this post to be very informative.

No problem! That's why I'm doing the AMA. I'm hoping to UNSCARE you into taking some kiddos :-).

Thank you for doing this :) I'm thinking of going into foster care in the future, so I'm finding this post to be very informative.

dotsand-dashes1 karma

Soon I'm going to work for a local organization (whose name I won't say) but the work I'll be doing is basically fostering kids 10-18 in an on-campus home. I'd be an assistant to the parents and taking care of kids who were removed from their homes due to behavioral/legal problems.

I love that you were able to adopt two of your girls! If I may ask, what was your relationship like with their biological parents before and after the adoption? How much do the girls understand about their situation? Do they ever talk about or remember their old home?

howlowcanIg04 karma

Soon I'm going to work for a local organization (whose name I won't say) but the work I'll be doing is basically fostering kids 10-18 in an on-campus home. I'd be an assistant to the parents and taking care of kids who were removed from their homes due to behavioral/legal problems.

Sign me up!

If I may ask, what was your relationship like with their biological parents before and after the adoption?

they were 2 and 11 months when they came to us. Before, they knew who she was and called her by just mommy. When parental rights were terminated, she got one last visit, and they haven't seen her since. Eventually I imagine we will arrange a meeting, but I think we'll cross that bridge when we get there. As of now, they have no idea who she is, but they know that we aren't biologically their parents. No "surprise! your adopted!" written on a cake on their 14th birthday :-) As far as I know, they don't remember anything.

MotherChucker812 karma

What are your suggestions to adoption? My wife and I have been trying for about three years and no luck. We have gone through the testing phases and suggested IVF. We are not big fans of that because of the costs involved. WE have read up on adoption and would like to hear about your experience.

You can PM if you want to discuss this at length.

howlowcanIg03 karma

We are a foster to adopt poster family. Our very first placement ended in adoption and it never cost us anything at all. This is not normally the case. Usually you have to spent around 4 years in the foster system before you get your adoption. It really depends on what you are willing to take. If you want older kids.. you can be done in 6 months. There are older children just waiting.

http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/application/TARE/Search.aspx/Children

I've talked about my experience with adoption in other places on this thread, but I'll be glad to try and talk you into it! It worked for us, but it is definitely a lot of work. 1 work Documentation. You have to do quite a bit if you aren't disciplined. We would end up doing the full months documentation a few days before it was due. it would have been so much easier to do it a little each day.

Mr_Smithy2 karma

Have you ever had any uncomfortable and/or escalated incidents with any of your foster children's immediate or non-immediate biological family?

howlowcanIg03 karma

Just one time:

We were walking up for a meeting at the family therapists office and the CPS worker approached me to talk about an upcoming appointment. As we got to the door, Bio mom careens out of the building (she saw us through the glass) and starts yelling at us.

I'm taken a back because of her ferocity, but the CPS worker was there, so she took the brunt of it. She was screaming how she didn't need my help teaching her kid what they could or couldn't eat, and that I had no right to brain wash him into thinking 'my way'. I guess fast food was an every day meal with their family, and my family does fast food MAYBE one meal a week, and it is more like a snack if we are between activities and won't be home for dinner on time. I guess "M" turned down McDonald's because he wasn't hungry and that my wife said it was really 'bad' for him. He was 13, and I think he was mostly just trying to be an individual. She didn't like that very much, I guess.

I have had foster parents make false claims plenty of times. "My kid has bruises on her shins."

Ma'am, your kid is 3 and is climbing on things at the park. She uses the shins.

My favorite was when that same mom filed a complaint that I was taking her kids to the doctor too much.

"They were never this sick when they were at my house."

epsilon27182 karma

First, I think it's great what you're doing.

Second, what do you guys do for a living? I notice you now take mostly older children (in school presumably) now but with young ones did one of you stay home? Based on some of the stories it sounds like you'd have to have a somewhat flexible job.

howlowcanIg02 karma

First, I think it's great what you're doing.

You should do it too someday ;-)

Second, what do you guys do for a living? I notice you now take mostly older children (in school presumably) now but with young ones did one of you stay home? Based on some of the stories it sounds like you'd have to have a somewhat flexible job.

I work full time, but my wife is a stay at home mom. She does most of the running around when required.

If both of you work, CPS will help you with court appointments and bio parent appointments. When it comes to doctor appointments you just have to do what every other biological parent does. Take some sick time :-(.

colibri_beleza2 karma

I have a friend who is interested in being a foster parent. But she has limited funds and I am advising her to get her cash flow straight before she takes on more responsibility.

What do you think is the basic income level needed in order to care for foster children? Is it true that foster parents receive cash from the state to take care of a foster child? is this money sufficient?

howlowcanIg02 karma

I have a friend who is interested in being a foster parent. But she has limited funds and I am advising her to get her cash flow straight before she takes on more responsibility.

VERY good idea.

If you can care for yourself dependably without overtime AND your state provides childcare at their cost without you having to pay for it. The state's income will pay for the needs of the child. The older the child gets, the less true this will be.

WorkDodge2 karma

As someone who will likely be a foster parent in 5-7 years, what do you recommend we learn in the next 5 years?

howlowcanIg06 karma

Patience :-)

Professor_Dumbass2 karma

Do you think the courts are too lenient with parents? Letting the kids go back again and again?

howlowcanIg04 karma

Yeah. I honestly think there should be a 3 strike out rule. We'll give your kids back to you two times.. but if we take them a 3rd.. you aren't getting them back.

That should not be effected at all about turning in your kids. That's right, I said it! You actually can turn your kids in at any hospital, fire department or CPS office, and they will take your kids. I think this is a good policy. We should never leave people with 0 options. That's when you have crazy people selling their children or killing or abandoning them.

maddygrex2 karma

Havnt read any of this tread yet, but I gotta say go you!!!!! My mom is a puts together the training sessions for foster parents for Children's Aid Society (ON, Canada). She always always made it clear how difficult of a task it is taking on this role. Always something I considered maybe down the road doing. But I never thought I could be so young and do it! How is your financial situation? I know its often not the case, but I always wondered how ppl could take on a child - let alone multiple! - and not be like 100% secure financially. I'm sure the compensation for it doesn't cover half of the expenses.

howlowcanIg03 karma

I would say the stipend is enough to cover a normal 9 year old. More than enough for a 3 year old and not enough for a 15 year old, if you catch my meaning.

When we first signed up, we didn't know we would get a stipend. We learned about that during the introduction class. So my advice is this:

If you can survive on your own, you can take a foster kid and the state money will almost completely cover what you need for the child.

If you can't survive on your own, and you think taking a child will help you get through, do NOT do it. That's my advice :-)

dirtys0cks2 karma

What is your favorite candy bar?

howlowcanIg05 karma

3 muskateers!

MintLemon2 karma

Are you allowed to go on family vacations? Do you need to get permission?

Edit: another question, how did you choose who to adopt?

howlowcanIg03 karma

We've adopted every child that was available (which was only 2 sisters). I think the plan is to adopt each that comes available and love them into SUBMISSION! (that was supposed to be read dramatically.

howlowcanIg03 karma

We can go on vacations as long as we don't have visitiation that week. If we have 3 weeks notice we can cancel a family visitation for one week. This means your family vacations can really only be one week at a time. You also can't cross the state line without a Judge's permission. This is really not that hard to do, and we have never been declined a request.

howlowcanIg02 karma

Good Question, btw.

Andthentherewasbacon2 karma

What is the best place to drink without your kids finding out?

howlowcanIg03 karma

I'm not a big fan of alcohol (it just tastes gross to me), and my wife is like a prohibitionist. We don't drink in the house.

Unless you mean water... then I like to drink in the upstairs closet.. no one asks me to share up there ;-).

CaptainKick2 karma

If you placed all the children that have been under your care in an arena, which one would win in a basic contest of hand to hand combat?

howlowcanIg02 karma

LOL 2 answers

Exactly as I had them at the exact age: G

She was absolutely out of control. She was bigger than the other kids and much more fierce.

If I could capture all of them at 17 and let them compete on equal ground. I think "H" would win. She's really athletic and fiercely competitive.. and she can't stand spoiled brats like "G".

Shawtyologist2 karma

Thank you for the AMA! This is a topic my husband and I have recently started discussing. However, we both work full time (M-F, 8-5) and love our work. Our biggest concern is meeting the child's needs (Who would pick the child up from school? etc). We have no biological children, no nieces or nephews, and no realistic picture of the commitment required to be parents or foster parents. I have been hoping someone like you would come along to answer our question!

howlowcanIg02 karma

However, we both work full time (M-F, 8-5) and love our work. Our biggest concern is meeting the child's needs (Who would pick the child up from school?

picking up from school would be something you have to work out, but child care will probably be paid for by the state since you both work 40 hours a week. They will even pay for afterschool care if they dictate that it is needed (changes per state).

We have no biological children, no nieces or nephews, and no realistic picture of the commitment required to be parents or foster parents.

Count on not having any personal time until after 9:00 pm every day. For two working parents, that is the biggest change. Home by 5:30. Someone cooks dinner. Eat dinner. it's 7:00 now. Do homework. Read books. It's 9. Partner private time (watch shows.. hanky-panky.. whatever..) Wake up in at 6:30 A.M to make breakfast for kid.. get him ready. Drop him by school on the way to work.

You'll lose easily 1 hour of normal sleep and 4 hours of free time every day.

Does that answer your question?

Shawtyologist2 karma

Yes! Thank you for taking the time to answer this question. It helps a lot! I appreciate your encouragement.

howlowcanIg02 karma

No Problem! Anytime!

pensiveone2 karma

From experience taking in kids and loving them (not through foster care but some through guardianship and others because they just needed a home), they get really expensive when they are in the teen years - glasses, dental issues, sports and the big one, college. My husband and I both work full time and we have spent all of our income for years loving and caring for kids, all of whom have lost at least one parent due to death and some of whom literally would have had no place to go - aging out of the foster system and they had had bad experiences, undocumented, abused and the state was unconcerned, parent to ill to care for them (guardianship). We love all the kids and the kids are all getting it together and finally about 15 or so years into it we are pulling some off the assembly line with college degrees ready to go out into the world, but they all still need love, attention and some modicum of support. It takes enormous energy and dedication and a lot more money than anyone would imagine to help a kid over life's many hurdles. It is without a doubt the best thing we have ever done. And OP is right, families can be extremely angry and judgmental but we do not differentiate between bio and all the other kids. If someone needs glasses, or had teeth everywhere and needs braces or has some other issue or need, we work to make it happen. One of the best things is that many of the kids are really close and by and large they are all supportive of one another. So, thank you for what you are doing, but try to look down the line and figure out the enormous costs of college (even with scholarship, grants and loans) and of all the other crazy things they will need on the way - band instruments, a half dozen batting gloves (because they are so easy to lose), driver's ed if you let them drive before 18, cars, insurance, medical care, not to mention lots of hot showers ($$$), clothes and food 24/7. I joke about the termites in my kitchen. The milk is always empty and leftovers turn to dust while I sleep. And my kids get jobs and work for spending money and such. So it costs more than you can imagine, and is exhausting but it is all worth it! So, thank you and good luck!

howlowcanIg02 karma

You did it with no state support at all.. you are the hero here!

pensiveone2 karma

Well in the long run, when you think about it, a new car gets old fast but changing a kid's life means it will only get better and better. We have never lost money on investments or new cars because we put all our money into kids, and we have what we need so long as we have a safe place to live, money to cover the bills and a car that runs. But I am serious about trying to project what it will cost down the line because the costs add up to a staggering sum, way more than we could have imagined. So my advice to you is to try to figure it all out as much as possible so that you will have some retirement (We have not seen to that yet! That is on the docket for immediate needs in the future.). And thank you for caring about kids!

howlowcanIg02 karma

I have a matching 401K through my job. Our retirement is well on its way :-).

luluxkuku2 karma

Do you ever have a hard time connecting with the children or are just so bad you can't handle taking care of them anymore

howlowcanIg02 karma

We have never had to turn a child back over the state due to our decision as of yet. it is an option and I honestly think we would have turned "G" back over to them if she hurt any more of our kids again. It is a hard decisions to make, but sometimes you have to protect the many from the one :-(.

Wooperlooper2 karma

This is a fantastic AMA, thank you for what you do and for answering all these questions! I spoke to my SO about fostering before and we're both interested in it, so reading stuff like this really helps us get a handle on whether it's something we'd like to do. So yep, no questions, just wanted to say thanks. :)

howlowcanIg03 karma

You should go to an intro class and see what is required of you in your area. it will give you a pretty good idea on when would be a good time to start!

iDrawlife2 karma

How old are your children?

howlowcanIg02 karma

My current set is

Foster boy - 7 Adopted girl -5 Adopted girl - 4 Biological girl - 18 months

and my wife is 8 months pregnant :-)

klevenisms2041 karma

how many of these kinds do you feel are truly ungrateful for what sound like 'good' foster parents?

howlowcanIg02 karma

There is always a sense of guarded emotional state I would say. This continues until they realize that you aren't like the last 6 placements and want them to stay. I honestly don't think they ever really get over it though. They are always wondering if the other shoe is going to drop. I think as they grow older and look back, they will realize that foster care wasn't as bad as they made it out to be, but it probably is different for each kid.

[deleted]-5 karma

[deleted]

howlowcanIg01 karma

I'm not sure what your point is. If you would like further point, what would you like?

meanredditcomment-21 karma

do you feel more righteous after bragging about this on reddit?

howlowcanIg06 karma

Not really. Should I?