Thursday, September 15, 2011

Weeding Out the "Crazies"

Over the past few weeks, I've had foster care training on the brain as I've been taking all of my annual refresher courses like the self-defense class Emergency Behavior Intervention Training, Meds, Water Safety, etc. and have had several friends going through their initial foster care orientations and PRIDE classes.  It's made me all nostalgic and has me remembering my initial training three years ago.  Way back when I was optimistic that I would be able to adopt within the first few placements like they assured us during training, and I truly believed that everyone involved in foster care was there for the good of the children...  Those were the days...  :-)

Having been involved in foster care for a few years now, I'm no longer surprised by much.  I think the only thing predictable about Foster/Adopt Land is its unpredictability.  But the one thing that never ceases to amaze me is often the wide, wide range of the types of potential foster parents we encounter in so many of the required annual training classes!  I just always assumed that everyone would be like me.  Boy, was I wrong!!!

Over the past three years, several potential foster parents who have stood out to me have been:

1)  The Gun-Toters - Not sure what these people were thinking, but they had a big (and I do mean BIG) problem with having to keep guns and ammunition locked up in separate locations.  In their words, "We have permits.  If we can't carry our loaded weapons while we're carrying the baby, well...  That's just a deal-breaker!  We live in a high crime neighborhood."  They never came back.  A huge loss to the foster care system, I'm sure...  I have to admit, I was slightly concerned for the rest of the class that night knowing that these two were packing heat and trigger-happy.

2)  The Creepy Single Guy - I will be the first to say that I have absolutely no problem with single people hoping to foster/adopt.  I'm a single person!  But I've got to say, this particular guy in my initial foster care orientation creeped me out.  This guy hadn't even been approved, and he already bought a new house, a minivan, and a boat.  A boat!!!  Because he wanted "to make sure his kids were spoiled and had a good time."  Mm-hmm...  Like that doesn't scream "child molester!"  This guy went on and on about how he was "going to be last stop for these kids."  He even went so far as to announce, "Oh, I'm not giving them back.  I bought a boat!  Once these kids are with me, that's it."  He carried on like this all morning, and the trainers never once said anything to him that would make him think, "Hmmm...  Perhaps foster care isn't for me."  After the 36th time of him saying "I'm not giving them back," I finally said something to him.  "Dude...  You don't want to foster.  You want to adopt.  If you're that adamant about not losing the kids, don't go into foster care!!!"  I actually think the trainers wanted to string me up and flog me for taking away a potential foster parent, but really...  Do you trust that face?!?

3)  The Farmers - Another "not-yet-certified" couple immediately reminded me of this famous pair.  They were insistent that they only foster teenagers.  My first reaction was, "Wow!  That's GREAT!  Most people steer away from fostering teens."  As the day wore on though, I started to wonder about their motives.  Comments like, "Will we know ahead of time if they're good with cows?" and "We only want the healthy ones!" kind of raised a red flag.  I wanted to mention that child labor was outlawed decades ago, but I thought I'd leave that to the person doing their homestudy.

4) The "Saints" - I've met a few of these over the years.  These are foster parents who seem to poop only rainbows and roses and have their "good deeds" tattooed on their foreheads.  I think they've let the comments that foster parents tend to receive go to their heads and have actually started to believe that they are saints.  I love fostering, but I am far from being a saint.  I get mad at bio parents.  I want to strangle caseworkers.  There are times when I do want to quit.  I have many-a-time been the recipient of the "side-eye" when I made any kind of even slightly construed as negative comment in a training class.  Call me crazy, but I just don't think it's right to lead potential foster parents to believe that foster care is all "sunshine and puppy dogs."  Foster care is hard!  And any normal person will have their moments when things get to them and they respond in a "less than saintly" manner.  My advice to those "saintly" foster parents...  Don't be rubbing your rose-smelling rainbow poo in my face!  I am human, and I might have to go all Bipolar Girl on you if you do.

5) The "Get Rich Quick-ers" - You recognize them right away...  The foster parents who think they are going to get rich by fostering.  They have lots of questions about daily stipend amounts, clothing allowances, tax deductions, other "get it for free" benefits, etc.  They become frustrated with the fact that there is a maximum number of children allowed in the home, and immediately ask, "Can we be a group home?"  I don't know.  I've played with the numbers, and I just can't see it!  If you're using the money for what it is intended to be used for, you're definitely not going to be making money from fostering.  I suppose there are people out there who do the bare minimum for their foster kids and end up making a killing out of their stipends, but the thought of that just kills me!  These kids deserve so much better than that.

6) And My Personal Favorites - I think the potential foster family that completely floored me the most wasn't in one of my classes.  A foster mom friend of mine once told me about a couple in her initial foster care informational meeting.  During the introductions when everyone was explaining why they wanted to foster, the mom said something along the lines of, "I want to be a mom again.  They took my kids a couple years ago when I was hookin' for drugs.  I don't turn tricks no more though." (No mention of the drugs.)  And as for the dad...  All I can say is that I believe the dad was quite possibly guilty of a number of as-yet unsolved crimes.  While he wasn't overly-concerned with the required criminal background checks based on name, he was apparently very, very nervous about which specific databases the fingerprint checks were going to go through.  I'm thinking these two should probably have just stayed home that night.  Somehow, I don't think they're fostering right now.  ;-)

So what about the rest of you?  Any interesting characters in any of your foster care training classes? 


DannieA said...

LOL....I laughed so hard, I started coughing like crazy.

What I learned about PRIDE class is that just like college classes or graduate school classes the people fall into these categories:

1. The "know it alls"
2. The "Teacher's Pet"
3. The "confused"
4. The "ambivalent"
5. The "intense"

We had all of those in our class. Yes ma'am we did

Denver Laura said...

Oh my gosh! I had to laugh too. We didn't have any of those crazies types in our class, but we did have 2 teacher's pets trying to out do each other. Throw in a couple of know it alls and it became a looooooong 8 weeks!

In our class, the washouts included wives who by all appearances had talked their husband into going to class. One had already raised her kids and wanted "just one more" with her new husband and the other with secondary infertility and getting a little impatient with the normal adoption routes. As if she was going to be able to find a little girl under the age of 2 with no issues to become a little sister to her 3 year old.

Last Mom said...

I'm afraid I was # 1 and #2 on Dannie's list! :-) Our teacher would go out to smoke and have me take over. I worked in social services and conducted trainings for the parents and teachers of at risk children (ages 0 - 5), so a lot of the material was right up my alley.

We had the evangelical Christians in our class. Every sentence had God in it. They used to spend all their money on cocaine, but God saved them. They have been unable to have a third child, so God clearly wants them to adopt. But God only wanted them to adopt a white child, of course. My husband loved messing them during role playing activities. His favorite was when he got to play the gay foster son and the evangelical man had to play the foster dad. He was not okay with having a fictional gay foster son.

Teresa said...

This is by far my most favorite and the truest post EVER. I laughed the whole way through. Where do these people come from?!

I'm a Foster Parent and an Evangelical Christian-between your post and the comment above- I'll never belong to a community who's not known for it's crazies!

Our MAPP class had this one woman who was soley concerned with lice. It was like she would take any child as long as they could get a flea bath before coming to her house. OK- it was me :)

The thought of bugs in my house and on my body FREAKS ME OUT!!Wouldn't you know our 1st placement brought home bed bugs from his 1st overnight bio visit? We had to replace all our furniture. GROSS!

Carla said...

Very funny! we had the 'We've been fostering longer than the instructor has been alive- I don't know why they're making us take this stupid class- hecklers in the back row. i loved it! I learned more from their arguing with the teacher, snorts and laughter, and horror stories than i did from the course. :)

Meg said...

I realize this is an old post but I loved it! My favorites in our IMPACT classes were the couple who were intent on opening a group home "so they could be like the Duggars on TV." She had a Hello Kitty notebook and kept plans she drew in colored pencils in it for the hypothetical home.

Martha said...

Awesome post. We are brand new foster parents. This post & the "Foster Pregnant" post are spot-on! We still talk about the couple from our class who brought up more than once that she thought she could get a shot that would allow her to breast feed. Finally an instructor shut that down after she'd brought it up for the third time. This was their 2nd or 3rd attempt of making it through the classes.

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