Monday, 8 February 2016

The Challenges of Fostering - or Trying to.


Over the past several years, I hear many telling me to be happy without my own children and to just foster or adopt. I looked into that about 8 years ago. One of the organizations I was told to contact was so incredibly insulting. Being a licensed OT was not enough for them, they would not even give me the opportunity to meet with them to explore further. The experience put me off and I turned to developing my Gemach to help other orphan Chatanim and Kallot. I found the response of the social worker I had spoken to, to be sad for many reasons. I feel sad when I think of the positive results I have seen from children who I have treated and to know that somewhere, some children will be denied the love and care that I can give them just because an angry social worker refused to give me a chance. So she had a bad day, perhaps she got out of bed the wrong way or had a nightmare or something, it does not excuse her being unkind and rude. 

A fellow OT thinks I should keep quiet and that speaking the truth is negative. I disagree. The truth has a way of coming out and truth can not be silenced. Organizations and therapists need to know the consequences of their negative actions. People need to know that the process is not all rosey. The heartbreak caused is unfair and uncalled for. I'm not the only one to receive such negative and harsh treatment. I've had women with fertility problems call asking me to arrange a support group for those rejected who could have been good foster parents.

For those who think my telling the truth is negative I have two responses. 1) My experience was hard and heartbreaking but I chose to seek another way to try to help orphans. The fact that over 30 couples and many others have benefited from our work can not be ignored. I did not just sit back and grumble. 

2) I wish I had known this information before approaching any organization to find out if fostering would or could be an option. I was convinced by others that my being an OT would be an asset and that  I would be able to assist many children who did not have parents or who could not remain with their parents for one or other reason. However, it all depends on the mood of the person answering the phone on the day that you call to enquire. I wish I had known this as then I could have been better prepared. I could have spent more time Davening to be able to meet the right people and the right organizations. I could have spent some time doing role play to determine if I had the emotional strength to face such a rejection. I could also have used role play for an opportunity to figure out some ways to respond to endeavour to counter the harsh judgement of the person I got to talk to. I could have spent some time brainstorming for possible solutions so that I would have a plan of action in place just in case I would need it.. But instead, the hard words sunk in and the damage was done.

As I said, I did not just sit back and grumble, I did look for another alternative and maybe someday I will come to take care of children who need love and kindness. But I do wish someone had warned me that there are no guarantees and that turning to an organization and saying I am a therapist I'd like to look into possibilities to foster children who could benefit from a loving home is not enough.

I think back on my work experience and wonder what the criteria are for those who do come to foster. Sadly I have had to intervene on more than one occasion where a child in foster care was clearly being abused. There is something wrong in the system. No, I do not have an answer as to what can be done to make sure that the children who need a good, loving home go to the kind of couples who can provide just that. But knowing myself better than the angry rude person who cut me off without a second thought, all I can say is that the truth needs to get out in the hope that somewhere the right key players can hear it and make the necessary changes for children to receive love and respect. Children are precious and should be treated as such. 

So for those who keep suggesting that I try fostering or adopting, for know all I can do is pray for the day that the world will be a better place. A place of honesty, truth and respect for all. A place where children will be loved and protected and where those who really want to be parents are given the opportunity to do just that.

Actually, come to think of it,  if prayer really helps, why should I pray to take care of the children of others, if prayer really helps I can pray for my own children and that the parents of those being given up for fostering or adopting have the strength and resources to be good parents to their own children.  That would be a better outcome.


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