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Vol. 13, No. 2 • May 2009

Things I'd Like to Know Before I Meet My New Foster Family . . .

In the last issue we asked young people in foster care to imagine that they were about to go to a new foster care placement, and then to tell us what they would like to know ahead of time about the home and the family they would be placed with. Here’s what they had to say.
—John McMahon, Editor

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First Place

Victoria, age 13

Tap! Tap! Is what I heard at my front door. When I opened it I found a DSS worker. My parents were in court and obviously something had happened.

The DSS worker told me I was going to a foster home. I just broke down in a waterfall of tears and had a million questions. Now, my most important questions are: Can I still have contact with my family? Can I still attend church, and continue my extracurricular activities?

I value my relationship with my parents. It is precious! Even though I am moving into foster care I really need to spend as much time with them as possible because I am going to be 18 soon. I would need to know how my foster parents would go about letting me have visits. I would need to know how frequently I would get to see my folks.

I also talk to my mother and father a lot, so I would need to know if they had a phone. It grounds me to hear my dad’s last “I love you!” just before I go to sleep. “Good night! I love you!” My world is stable as I repeat these words.

I need to talk to someone about how often I can talk to my parents and how long the conversations can be. I need a definite outline for my calls and visits.

I am a Christian and believe strongly in God. I need to be informed about the religion of the couple and what doctrine they practice. I am nondenominational, so our beliefs may not match up. I go to church every Sunday. These new parents would need to take me to church or make arrangements for me to go.

I also go to youth group. It gets me around kids my own age. It helps me to stay involved in the church. . . . I would like for foster parents to take action for me to continue attending youth group. My beliefs must come first to best benefit me.

Extracurriculars are important. I am a very hyper and outgoing person. I love to play sports. I am involved in basketball and softball. I would like to know if the foster parents will let me play. Sports help me channel my energy in a positive way.

I also play the piano. It is really important for me to keep up my lessons. “Music builds a bridge. . .” Music is my outlet. It helps me be the person I want to be. I can express myself through music when I can’t express myself any other way. I would like to know if they have a piano I can practice on and if the couple will keep taking me to my piano lessons. These are very important forms to channel my emotions and energy. I want to know if they will allow me to continue my activities.

These are the things that mean the most to me: my faith, my family, and extracurricular activities. They help to make me the person I am today. I really could not live right without them. The parents in a good foster home would try their best to incorporate these things into my life with them.

Victoria’s essay won first prize, for which she was awarded $100.

* * * * * * *

Second Place

Samantha, age 14

Dear Foster Parents,
I have a few questions before I make my final decision on coming to live with you. I hope you can convince me, because I really don’t want to be placed in a foster home again. . . .

At my last foster home they discussed my past in a manner that made me feel uncomfortable. I must say, no matter what anyone says I will always honor my parents. . . . God made them my parents for a reason. So if I come to live with you, I must see my parents—frequently!

My second thing is that I must be me. You have to give me time and see my potential. I am very talented, but it will take a while for you to see. But if you take the time to get to know me . . . you’ll see. I am a lover. When I get attached to someone, I don’t let go. So, if you want me to live with you, be prepared to have me calling you even after I leave. I am a respectful person, but you have to respect me, too! I am an individual; I won’t ever change.

So, tell me, do you . . . want me to be your temporary child? Let me know your answers to my questions. Thank you for your time. I won’t let you down if you just give me a chance.

Love always,

Samantha

Samantha’s letter took second place, for which she was awarded $50.

* * * * * * *

Third Place

Casey, age 14

Here’s the first question I would probably ask: Does the family want me just for the money or because they really want me? I would hope it would be because they really wanted me.

I wouldn’t want to be with someone who didn’t want me. . . .

The second question I would ask would be: has the family ever had any other foster children? If they have, they would know not to call us “the foster kids” instead of our real names. They would know to watch what they talked about around us because if they were to ask us questions about [our birth] home it would make just about any foster child feel sad.

The third and final question I would ask is: does the family have any kids of their own and if so, how old are they?

I would also like to maybe have a room to myself. . . .

I would love to know the answer to these questions before I go to a new foster care placement.

Casey’s essay won third prize, for which she was awarded $25.

* * * * * * *

Tabitha, age 15

Tabitha, age 15

. . . . Education is very crucial to me. I would like to have a big say in this area . . . . I would like to know if you would help me go to college eventually. I would really love to go to Dartmouth and then on to Harvard Law School. I want to be a lawyer or a forensic scientist.

I would want to know why you wanted to adopt my brother and me—to find out if you are sincere. If you have other kids, will you treat me just as you do them?

If you got tired of us, would you just give my brother and me back? That’s already happened once and I don’t want to go through all the emotions again.

The last thing I would want to know would be whether you would be able to accept me [for who I am]. I don’t want to change unless it’s to make me a better person.

I would pray that you would listen to me and help me become part of the family. If I were to say something about the way I might do things, you won’t say, “Well, we don’t do that here,” but actually think about what I say.

Those are the things that I would need to know if I were at home—to feel like I am around people that are going to love me one day as if I were always a part of the family.

Tabitha received $15 for having her essay published.

* * * * * * *

Christina, age 7

“I would want to know if the new family would let me talk to my mommy and daddy. . . .

I know how it feels to go into a new home. . . . Our foster parents adopted us. Now my sister and I are part of a family again.”

Christina received $15 for having her essay published.

* * * * * * *

Angel, age 13

If I were getting ready to go to another foster home, then I would first want to know if they were Christian and if they would take me to church.

I would want to know if there were any children my age and if they were nice and loving.

I enjoy reading very much and would hope that they could provide me with good reading materials and my own quiet space where I could read.

I would also like to know their names and what the rules and chores would be. . . .

I would still want to remain in contact with my foster mom. She says the same thing.

Angel received $15 for having her essay published.

* * * * * * *

Anthony, age 14

These are the things I would like to know ahead of time: Whether the foster parents will be good to me [and] how they will treat me when I’m there. Will they support me and care for me?

I would like to know the school I will be attending. Will I get to keep any of my old friends? How far will I be behind in my schoolwork? How much work would I have to do to pass to the next grade?

I want to know if I’ll be able to see my biological family, If so, how often and [for] how long? I would also like to know if I would be able to keep in contact with them. . . .

I would also like to know if there are other children in the home. . . I would like to know the children’s hobbies and interests. I like to play football, basketball, and draw.

The main thing I would want to know is if the parents smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, or do drugs and if so, would this hinder them from supporting and taking care of me?

Anthony received $15 for having his essay published.

* * * * * * *

Justice, age 10

Justice received $15 for having this artwork published.

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