Vol. 6, No. 1 November 2001
to foster parents
Donna Foster and Joanne Scaturro (a.k.a. "SI
You know you are a foster parent
- You tell the physician what medication
your child needs.
- You answer the question, "How
many children do you have?" with, "I have x birth children,
x foster children, and x adoptive children." And the other adult
wishes she never asked.
- Everytime you hear the phone ring,
you start counting how many beds you have available.
- You own an assortment of every
known character Band-Aids.
- You're the only one of your friends
who knows every character from "Rug Rats" and "Telly
Tubbies," AND you know the words to Barney's "I Love You,
You Love Me."
- Special time alone with your husband
is a full night's sleep in your favorite baggy pajamas.
- You know what the teenager's "slang
words" mean and you catch yourself using them.
- You get excited when there are
more seats in your new mini-van.
- You only buy in bulk at SAM's Club.
- Your neighbors don't invite your
family to barbecues anymore.
- Teachers at your local school have
nervous breakdowns when they see you coming.
- You are surprised that your friends
haven't seen the inside of the juvenile courtroom.
- You're bringing the child's latest
worker up-to-date on the child's case record.
- Your kids ask questions about sex
and you don't know the answers.
- Your kids tell you the agency's
policies and the changes to keep you informed.
- Your pastor has to reserve a whole
church pew for your family.
- You go to school more than your
- Your friends find drugs in their
child's room and they ask you what it is.
- The police stop you for speeding
and don't give you a ticket because they know your kid.
- You have to use all the fingers
on both hands to count how many children you have.
- You own stock in the Ritalin company.
Donna, retired foster parent:
Joanne and I had so
much fun coming up with these funny "You know you are a foster
parent" statements. I really believe I would not have lasted seventeen
years as a foster parent if it wasn't for a strong sense of humor. If
you are a seasoned foster parent you know this is true. If I didn't
have a light heart at times, I would have cried endlessly at the injustices
afflicting our communities' children. We see first hand the heartache
of our children and of their families. We, who work as foster parents
and front-line workers, are a different breed. We sign up to help suffering
children and families. We sign up to be in the middle of a family's
crisis. Neglect, sexual abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, physical/emotional
abuse, and homelessness are only a few of the things we see firsthand.
We don't read it in the newspaper or view it on the television. We hold
the victims in our arms as we try to comfort them. And that is what
we offer, safety and comfort.
So, how do you
know you are a foster parent?
- You open your homes and hearts
24 hours a day, every day, to children you haven't even met.
- You know your family will grieve
each and every time a child enters and leaves your home, but having
the child in your lives makes it worth it.
- Even though you realize you can't
heal the child's pain, you strive to be a part of the healing.
- You do not look to yourself for
the absolute knowledge in caring for the children, but you look to
others for support.
- You volunteer all of your love
even when sometimes children and their families can't accept it.
- You give without expecting anything
- You see the strengths in children
when others see their weaknesses.
- You know others may not understand
your choice to foster and may even avoid your family. The lost friendships
are missed, but your decision to foster is worth it.
- Your inner faith is enhanced as
you see children grow and flourish. Even the slightest smile of a
child is a victory. Their small steps are major successes.
- You understand and aid a child
returning home to a healthier family. You do what you can, even if
you may not agree with the decision. You understand most of us want
to be with our own families.
- Material wealth isn't important
to you. You chose to live with less to be able to give more. Wealth
is in helping children find their way home, whether it be with their
birth family, adoption, or being independent. You hear a child with
different ears. You hear their cries of help behind their fits of
anger, harsh words, or through their silence. Your patience is your
strength. You don't take their fighting personally because you know
they are struggling to find answers. You know their parents may be
behaving in the same way as their children, for some of the same reasons.
- You will make many mistakes, but
you learn from them and keep on striving to do the best you can.
- You give to each child in your
care without sacrificing your own children.
- You give your complete love and
caring even if the child lives with you temporarily.
- You are humble to the praises of
others for what you are doing because you feel this is what we all
should be doing. It is your normal way of life.
- You record everything that is going
on in your children's lives through Life Books, journals, and files
because you know for confused children, you are the one to help them
make sense of their lives. They can count on you. You are the "memory
- Your arms never close to a child
and your heart holds them forever.
I have only written
a few of the attributes of foster parents. If you are a foster parent,
I hope you see yourself. I urge you all to give to one other person,
even if you feel you are tired and busythat person is yourself!
You are worth all
of the glories of this world. If your emotional and physical cup is
empty then you won't have any more to give to others. So, stop and care
Oh, and don't forget
Donna Foster and
Joanne Scaturro are SIDEKICKS, a foster parent and a social worker comedy
team that celebrates the human side of building positive partnerships.
By combining skits, strategies, and audience involvement, SIDEKICKS'
keynote addresses and workshops provide a unique learning experience
2001 Jordan Institute for Families