I love teaching the foster parent class but some days are tougher than others, and tonight since I have a raging case of laryngitis I knew it would be tough. But tonight is the night we have other foster parents come in and talk to the class about what their experiences were and where they are now. The class has heard 9 weeks of my stories so they don’t usually expect me to talk during this class, so I thought it was safe. I make myself laugh because of my MASS under estimation of what would happen.
Now I know the parents coming. I know them but I don’t remember how I met them, was I their teacher or did I see them at the foster parent dinner….who knows. Both great people who have great stories I am pumped. I get to the class and they both warmly greet me and I suddenly realize I was their teacher, one from two years ago and one from four years ago.
K goes first and she tells how she got into foster parenting for an older boy or boys. She talks about starting as respite while waiting for the age group that she and her husband are looking for. Her first respite was two little girls, one 20 months, one 3 weeks positive for cocaine. They were told 2-3 weeks until it is resolved and the kids are moved on. Four years later both are adopted by K and her husband. She talks about the joys of having more children and the challenges of one special needs and having a third kid dropped on them when the same Mom gave birth while kids were in care. A strong and God fearing woman she talks well to the need to be close as a couple in all areas of parenting. I love hearing her talk, she is so devoted to her kids, God and her husband and can tell the class about what to do as a couple. I obviously can not address that topic with any degree of depth. We are all awed by her talking and wow truly honest about her feelings and experiences.
S went next and she is the current foster mom to two children who have been with her for almost two years. She talks to fostering older children and the struggles of several failed placements before this one. S is also single and talks to the need for support and the loss of friends secondary to your choice to be a foster parent. Unlike K, S is currently trying to adopt these two children but due to legal issues it cannot happen immediately. She talks about the challenges of family court and the struggles with some of the behavior typical for older children in the foster system.
Sounds great right….a perfect night… ha you were lulled into that false sense too. Suddenly, S says to the class “Has ANYM talked to you about alternatives to dealing with behaviors because when she told us I thought nah she is nuts but now I have to tell you listen to what she says” The class thinks they remember but could I do it again? So I go through it again and the heads are nodding. Once I finish K says “Oh wait you are the Mom of a child with RAD! I have so many questions can I talk to you?” I say sure during the break. The class revolts…”What is RAD? Why won’t you tell us about it?” I look in desperation at my co facilitator I mean come on you can barely hear me why isn’t she intervening, explaining or something?!?!!?! She looks right at me and says “You know the most about the disorder you know we refer everyone to you go for it”
OK I start to explain and go through all of it answering the questions as they come up. I caution it is a spectrum disorder, your results may differ but here were the basics. After 20 minutes I have to stop I literally can’t say another word my voice is gone. The parents are all riveted and when I stop they are disappointed but hey we all have limits. My co facilitator picks it up and closes the discussion for the class. The parents are reflecting when one of the husbands looks at me and says “So this is foster parenting actual results may vary?”
We all start laughing. Yes this is a re-creation based on actual events but your results will vary.