Foster Kiddos and the Rug-Pulling Act

As foster parents, we never know what to expect. We’re licensed for kiddos from birth to eighteen, though we’re more interested in taking kiddos four and up right now. Still, that’s a large range in kiddos. You don’t know whether the kiddo will like peas or carrots or accept with magnanimity that we never buy bread from the store because my husband bakes all our bread.

After our last kiddo, we took a break from foster parenting. We needed one. She had unexpectedly been an adoptive placement, and we’d approached it as one. The failure to get her to accept our boundaries with the animals was heartbreaking. Still, we took our break, dusted ourselves off, and went back to receiving calls about kiddos.

My husband has been fairly adamant that he’d like to start with respite, which is providing shorter term care for kiddos who have a different foster family. The vast majority of the calls we’ve received have been for long-term placements, which is essentially a permanent placement until the child returns home or something else happens, as it did with our last kiddo, and the child can no longer reside at your house. We’re open to long-term placements, but we’d prefer respite.

We have said yes to four kiddos and met none of them. Two of the times we were called back immediately and said another placement had been found. Two of the times we’ve said yes, we’ve been called back with confirmation that our home had been accepted and the kiddo would be arriving that night. One time we waited hours before we called to check on the arrival time (it was getting very late) and were told that another family had been found. Last weekend, I was given confirmation, called, recalled, called again by two workers sharing information about the kiddo and enrolling him in school and what paperwork would be needed, etc. Seven hours later and after making plans and adjusting schedules, we were called at nine o’clock at night to say another family had been found.

I am grateful that these kiddos have found other places to stay, but I’m also still a little sad. I’m not certain that it’s normal to have such delayed information exchanges about basic information, such as whether a kiddo is showing up at your house. The emotional and physical preparations to receive a kiddo with a specific set of needs into your home can be quite significant. Moreover, I genuinely want to help kiddos; I like them, and I’d like to have kiddos in our house. Receiving the calls and having to say no is wrenching; receiving the calls and saying yes and then having the rug pulled out from you isn’t particularly fun either. Foster parenting isn’t easy, but neither is waiting to be a foster parent again.

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