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Have You Ever Thought of Being a Foster Parent?

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posted: 06/26/14

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

Woah. Strange topic for Wine & Glue, huh? Well, we are facing a huge deficit of amazing foster parents in my home town, I haven’t picked an Act of Kindness yet this year, and sometimes my blog needs to be about more than crazy treats, fun printables, and easy dinners.

So if you’ve ever thought about being a foster parent, and especially if you haven’t, I’d appreciate if you’d give this a read, share it on social media, and forward it to that one person that I know you are thinking about who would make the absolute perfect foster parent.

foster

 About 8 years ago I was a social worker for the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I did child abuse and neglect investigations. In other words, someone would call saying that they had a concern about a child, and I would investigate. I would interview all the family members, determine if abuse or neglect had occurred, and more often than not, refer the family for services.

But there were times when abuse or neglect was serious, ongoing, and the child needed to be removed from the home. Like immediately. I took children from schools and drove them to foster homes. I took children directly from their home and drove them to foster homes. I took newborns from the  hospital and drove them to foster homes. I took children from ER’s and drove them to foster homes.

Most of the foster homes were wonderful. Warm and loving homes that I immediately felt comfortable in.

Some were not.

I will never forget the time I had a little boy with me, about six years old (the age that Gavin is now . . . ). It was winter in Wisconsin. Snow was on the ground, and by the time that the investigation had reached the point of determining he was no longer safe in his home, it was close to 10 pm.

To be honest with you, I don’t even really remember why he was being removed from his home. And not because it wasn’t significant. Children were only taken from their families in the most extreme of situations. The goal was always to keep them with their parents.

I don’t remember why he was taken from his home because the foster home that he was being placed with is all that stands out in my head. I will spare you the details of the home, because honestly it’s not the point of this post, but I refused to leave him there. I called my supervisor who called her supervisor who got in touch with the department that found homes for us. And some poor social worker just like me got back to work looking for a different home for him to be placed in.

Most of the foster homes in Milwaukee are wonderful. There are just not enough foster homes. Period.

In an ideal world, children would be removed from their homes, placed in a foster home, and wouldn’t move again until they were either adopted (ideally by that very same family) or returned to their parents. The standard in Milwaukee is that a child is in three homes or less during their time in foster care. That standard is woefully going unmet.

There are about a billion problems in Milwaukee contributing to this issue. Poverty, institutional racism, a war on drugs that just isn’t working, mental health issues that are going untreated. I could go on and on and on.

I don’t know how to solve all those very real problems. But there is one problem that can be at the very least helped. The children who are the products of poverty, institutional racism, a war on drugs that just isn’t working, and mental health issues that are going untreated.

They are coming into the foster care system, and they need good homes. They need to be placed in a home that is a really good match for them and not moved within 24 hours of being taken from their parents.

Think about the type of home you would want your children to end up in if they were in the shoes of so, so, so many children in this country.

So . . . .

If you’ve ever even remotely considered fostering, please, I’m begging of you, explore it further. Google “foster parent” and the name of your state. There is a better than decent chance that foster parents are desperately needed in your area as well. If you are in the Milwaukee Area, please start here.

 

Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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  1. Ashton says

    This is really touching and enlightening, Lisa. I appreciate you taking the time to bring this up!! Thanks for sharing :)

    • Melissa says

      I am a foster parent of about 1 year now and I have to say it is a very rewarding experience.

      • Lisa Longley says

        Thank you so much for chiming in Melissa!

  2. holly waterfall says

    Thank you so much for writing this Lisa. It is very saddening to hear. I am mostly sad because there is literally nothing that I can do, as much as I want to, just because the state considers me an unfit mother because of the sex of my spouse.
    I heard a staggering statistic last week that really made me angry. In the United States, there are 5 times the number of gay couples who want to foster children then there are children in the system. Loving parents who aren’t able to have children of their own who are begging to give love to these children – yet they are seen as not good enough. It makes me sick.

  3. Heather @ French Press says

    What a wonderful post Lisa. We were foster parent for years, and here in California, the kids move an average of something like 8 times. It became so discouraging, kids would come to us with literally NOTHING, we picked up two little girls from their previous foster mother, and they didn’t even have shoes. I would love to o it again, but Ian is concerned that we don;t have the time to really put into doing it right – I think every city/state is in serious need of good foster homes! Thank you for writing this

  4. Tia says

    Thank you very much Lisa for raising awareness about the tremendous need for foster parents in the Milwaukee area. I am an initial assessment worker currently in Milwaukee and I see the need every day, workers waiting until 11 or 12 at night to find a placement. We are definitely in need.

  5. Carol at Wild Goose Tea says

    My son and his wife are fostering two older children—-a brother and sister—-and are n the process of adopting them. It’s been very very rewarding. I am very much enjoying have them as grandchildren. Challenges, yes. But there are always challenges with kids. They are a wonderful addition to the family. A fact that the entire family agrees with.

  6. Heather says

    Hi Lisa,
    Gavin told me about your blog and I was drawn to this post as I was perusing the good looking recipes. Did you know that our youngest 4 children were our foster children before we were lucky enough to adopt them? We’ll have to talk…

    • Lisa Longley says

      My little Gavin . . . such a great PR person :) The world needs more people like you and your husband, not only willing to open their homes to foster children, but to make permanent homes for them.

  7. Michelle Marley says

    I’m doing my master’s thesis on the reasons that prevent people from being foster parents. I’m doing this in an attempt to help a foster family agency improve their recruitment efforts. Is it okay if I use your “Have you ever thought about being a foster parent?” graphic?

    • Lisa Longley says

      As long as you attribute it back to Wine & Glue and this post, that is fine Michelle. Good luck with your thesis!

  8. Lindsay says

    we are way up in door county, but I am heart broken to read articles like this. We want to be foster/adoptive parents and I was wondering if it was a county-by-county thing or if we could end up getting children from as far away as Milwaukee? Can foster parents drive and pick the child up or does the social worker have to deliver them?

    • Lisa Longley says

      Lindsay, I definitely think it’s worth making a phone call and asking. I haven’t worked in child welfare in over seven years. It wasn’t possible when I was there, but things may have changed.

  9. Millie Hue says

    I totally agree when you said that the people that should take care of these kinds of children should be the perfect match for them. I think that is important because they have experienced unfortunate things, so they might not be the same as children who grew up with their family. This information would be very useful to a friend of mine since she has expressed her interest in becoming a foster parent. From what I know, she can’t bear a child, so she is looking for ways to at least care for a child that she can’t have. Thanks!

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