Monday, May 30, 2011

Homeschooling and Foster Care - Part 2

The next in a series on the pros and cons of doing foster care while homeschooling. See part 1 here.


Foster Care is really hard work.

It is utterly amazing how much time and effort it takes to care for children under the best of circumstances, and foster care is NOT the best of circumstances. The physical and emotional needs of foster children are great.

For example, when we got Baby Bop, he ran a fever every day for two months (until I took him to a chiropractor at my own expense, after having gone to a half dozen doctors appointments). I was up every night to feed him for a year (because he was so under weight he couldn't sleep through the night).

We had 5 foster children in a row with lice. (Oh, and did I mention that it spread to everyone in the household but Henry.)

We had a little foster boy who developed a respiratory problem that required two visits to Urgent Care and frequent nebulizer treatments (especially in the middle of the night).

It usually takes 1-2 hours to get a new foster child to go to bed. It then takes 1-2 weeks before a bedtime routine can be established that doesn't take an hour or more.

We had a preemie drug baby that weighed 4 pounds that needed to be feed every 2-3 hours around the clock.

We had a foster child that attended a school 30 minutes from our home. I made the trip twice a day to drop off and pick her up at school.

For some reason (stress, germs from the visitation center, whatever), most foster children get sick frequently. (Did I mention that our little 2 year old foster boy threw up twice today, spiked a fever, and has diarrhea and that his brother did the same thing 4 days in a row the week before?)

So, good intentions aside, foster care is not for the faint of heart.


Foster Care is really hard work.

Children need to do hard things to develop depth of character. As parents, we need to model for our children how to do hard things. Children need to feel the stress of difficult situations to give them opportunities to grow.

I'm reminded of a news story about an oak tree that was blown over in a relatively mild storm. Even though the tree was very large, the root system was very shallow. While the tree was growing, it had been over-watered. Its roots had never had to go deep to find water.

I want my children to have deep roots. Frankly speaking, prior to doing foster care, life was just too easy at our house. So, we engineered our own drought. Thanks to foster care, our lives have become very inconvenient. And, it is not only the children who get a chance to grow. I'm doing things and have handled situations that I couldn't have dreamed of before.

Of course, there is a balance to all things. We've turned down more foster care placements than we've accepted. We are very careful what problems we will take into our home. Twice we've had a foster child in our home moved to another foster home when it became too stressful or too risky for our own children.

Foster care builds more than just character. My children will be far more ready to handle parenthood than I was. So, if you are up for the challenge, it is well worth the effort.


Croppermom said...

My husband and I were foster parents,for 3 years until about 7 years ago. I have total understanding of what you are describing. As challenging as it was the reward was just as wonderful. We ended adopting one of our babies, our Boo. The journey to get her was both heart wrenching and heart warming!

We loved every minute that we had the kids. We loved the kids as if they were our own the minute we knew they were going to be placed in our home. To this day I pray for those children. I still love them as if they were mine.

My pray is no matter where they end up in this life, they can look back and someone loved me unconditionally. They may not remember who we were but I pray they remember the love they were given. When this life is over and I stand before my Savoir, I will see those children and they will remember me and they will know my love was real.

I guess you can say moved on from babies to teenagers. We now host exchange students from around the world. Not quite as challenging when it comes to the kids past, but comes with its one set of tests (the pun is intended.) Building the relationship is different as we talk for quite some time. But still uncertain when they arrive. The reward is huge to see them enjoy and learn about our life and our county!

Jen said...

Funny - I thought we were rare to raise a family, homeschool, & do foster care...but it seems we have lots of company! I agree,the need for boundaries with foster care while homeschooling, but I also found fostering is easier when kids are home based, & faith instructed, etc. For us, it has been the best lesson about real life, God's heart, & what it means to live a life of service & compassion in kids! Wouldn't trade these past eight years for anything! Thanks for another great post!
..because Life IS a Poem!

Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian said...

omg the lice...after one continuous round, I swore I would only accept kids with shaved heads...we don't have ANY carpet, all mattresses and pillows are covered in plastic, we got new bedding for everyone, spent a fortune on shampoos and sprays...and then to get the nasty-grams from the schools with 'helpful' advice about not sharing combs or hats...

We also had a 2yo with leukemia, another 2yo coming down off a meth high, the little girl picked up by Border Patrol who spoke a language that was a mix of Spanish, German, and words her sect had made up, and so on, and so on. Pro and Con: With foster care, you never get to feel like you know what you are doing for very long. And you are absolutely right that it is a great way to raise your 'permanent' kids to be stronger, more capable - and more flexible - adults.