To paraphrase the former Peace Corps slogan, foster parenting is the toughest job you’ll ever love. You have chosen a difficult path. Instead of a big cheering section, you are likely to face problems, and even be blamed unfairly when things go wrong.
As foster parents, you take in troubled children who may require extraordinary patience and parenting skills. Your new foster child will test your love with a lack of compliance and misbehavior.
Yet you are the only major players without legal standing. Although you have 24/7 knowledge of the children in your care, you may have to sit back at conferences and in court while caseworkers, CASAs, and birthparents all have their say. You do the heavy lifting and yet you may face most of the blame when things go wrong.
Your caseworker may ignore your concerns and possibly even remove the child against your wishes. Worse, they may listen to hearsay evidence and try to substantiate charges of neglect and abuse against you.
You are always vulnerable to undocumented allegations, based solely on hearsay, often put forth by disgruntled and unhappy birth parents.
Finally, you may be told not to become too attached to the youngsters in your care. Impossible. I would not give a nickel for a foster parent who failed to become attached.
No surprise that retention is a serious problem. The turnover of foster parents is between 30 and 50 percent, higher than in most fast food industries.
So why do you do it? Because you want to provide a home for kids without one. Even if your role is not permanent, you know that every child needs caring adults. More, you possess the courage to see past recurring obstacles. Unselfish love is both a driving force and its own fulfilling reward.