May is National Foster Care month, When I first became certified as a foster parent, I felt there was a negative stigma associated with foster parents and foster kids. There was regular press coverage about foster kids living in horrific situations with foster parents who loaded their houses up with kids so they could get more money. In some states, Social Workers didn’t visit homes for years because they could only respond to emergencies they knew about. I remember feeling so discouraged when another negative article would come out, because I felt that no one was telling the stories about the thousands of good, loving foster parents.
Category: Voice of a Foster Parent
Every March we celebrate National Social Worker Month. But I’ll bet you didn’t know that March is also National- celery month, caffeine awareness month, frozen food month, noodle month, peanut month and cheerleading safety month?
I had to laugh when I read these other things that are celebrated in March because I’m pretty sure most Social workers celebrate these things every month, well maybe not the celery, but certainly Caffeine Awareness. They are very aware of caffeine and where to get it in towns, cities and airports. In fact, lots of good social work takes place in coffee shops. Social Workers know that the way to break the ice with someone or create trust is over a warm beverage.
It’s hard to believe that Family Care Network is celebrating 30 years of enhancing the “wellbeing of children and families in partnership with our Community.” I became a certified foster parent with Family Care Network 27 years ago when the agency was only three years old. I knew I had found the perfect agency to support me in being a Resource Parent when I learned that the very first training was all about communication and creating effective, genuine relationships.
As I think about the many years I have been a Resource Parent with FCNI, I am lead to express my thanks.
Besides being a Resource Parent for the Family Care Network, I get to participate in some of the trainings the agency holds for newly hired staff members. The first big training that everyone goes through is on Trauma-Informed Care. Every new hire at Family Care participates in this training, whether you are in Facilities, IT, admin, or have been hired as a Rehabilitation Specialist or Social Worker—everyone starts their new job at FCNI learning how trauma affects the brain and how to support one another by staying calm and balanced. We teach what it means to respond to one another from a place of love versus reacting to them from a place of fear.
Over the past 26 years that I have been a part of the Family Care Network’s Circle of Serving as a Resource Parent, I have gotten to know many, many other Resource Parents. Before I learned about the diversity of kids needing foster care I had a picture in my mind of what a foster child looks like and what a foster family looked like. My picture included infants or toddlers needing families composed of young couples with or without their own kids. Back when I started foster parenting in 1990, I was surprised to learn that there were teens in need of homes and that Resource Parents came in all ages, and were both couples or singles. After all these years, I can truly say that there is no standard demographic for a Resource Parent.
Everyone has their 'go-to' comfort foods, and often times these foods aren’t the most nutritious. I’ve learned the healing value of allowing kids to enjoy these foods once in a while even if they make me cringe.
March is the month when many Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by preparing and/or eating the traditional corned beef and cabbage and potatoes. This meal has been a tradition in my family since before I was even born. My Mom’s side of the family is Irish, so there was never any question as to what was for dinner every March 17th.
My family of origin is more like mac and cheese than a filet mignon. Even though we aren’t fancy and sometimes leave something to be desired in terms of taste, there is a warmth and comfort to my family that has made me who I am today. I’ve recently been taking stock of all the gifts I have received from my parents, and I have been blessed. Don’t get me wrong, my parents have plenty of flaws, but they were able to raise passionate, thinking children, who have strong identities and deep wells of love and compassion. I recognize that they did this by parenting to our hearts.
Recently, I attended an annual father daughter dance. My daughter and I have participated in this tradition for several years, and it’s an event we both look forward to each year. In fact, this is the sole event in my life where I have regularly and happily purchased a new tie or other required clothing prior to attending each year—it’s that important. The dance allows me to fully embrace my role as “Dad” for my daughter, and I love it.
Many a good parent has entered the world of foster care and adoption, only to be blindsided by the complete ineffectiveness of many of their go-to parenting tools. They find that the children in their care respond differently than their friend’s kids or even their biological children. This is “difference” is sparked by TRAUMA. Drug exposure, stress, separation, neglect, domestic violence and abuse all affect the brain, especially during the formative years of development. Trauma has taught the body that the world is a scary place.
If you looked at my calendar in the month of July, you would see the words, “Start Christmas Shopping”. It’s the same year after year, and you know what? I NEVER do it! I tell myself, “Christmas is five months away…I have plenty of time to get started!” Then, before I know it, October rolls around and the Christmas aisles start showing up in the stores. It’s like Thanksgiving barely exists in the retail world. You would think with all the holiday reminders I would get going maybe in October or early November? WRONG!