Foster Parenting: What’s the Alternative?
Ask any foster parent or foster to adopt parent and they will tell that they hear some variation on the following all the time: “I couldn’t do it – my heart would break every time a child leaves.”
Most of them will tell you that their heart does break, but that they do it anyway because if not them, then who?
I ran across a great blog (Daddy’s Tractor) a while ago by a foster mom Kelly- The Heartbreak of Foster Care. When asked why she risks getting her heart broken she responds simply, “Love is always worth it.”
People tell me “I couldn’t [be a foster parent].” Well, I’ve said that too, so coming from the other side, and with no malice, let me just say, yes. Yes you could. [You] choose not to.
Who are Foster Parents in the US
I wanted to know what type of family chooses to step up and foster. I started by reading blog by foster moms. (Creating a Family has a great list of foster mom blogs.) Many of these moms seemed fun, loving, middle class, passionate, kind of cool, and often doing it because of their faith and belief that this is what God wanted them to do. But then I stumbled upon a report analyzing Census data, and it drew a very different profile of the typical foster family.
The 2008 report, Data on Children in Foster Care from the Census Bureau, found that “households with foster children are different from other households with children on almost every dimension examined.” When comparing census data for families with foster children against families without foster children, they found that households with foster children were:
- Larger than other households with children
- Have a larger number of children
- Have a larger ratio of children to adults
- Less likely to be married-couple households
- More likely to be single-parent or cohabiting-couple households
- More likely to have an income less than 200 percent of the poverty line
- Have lower average household income
- More likely to have a severe financial housing burden, that is, paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing
- More likely to report receiving public assistance income
- More likely to be have a householder or spouse who did not complete high school
- Less likely to have a householder or spouse who graduated from college
- More likely to have a householder or spouse who did not work in the previous year
- Less likely to have a householder or spouse who worked full time in the previous year
That report paints a different picture of who steps up to foster. Maybe more of us who aren’t struggling financially need to step up and foster.
Kelly, over at Daddy’s Tractor, quoted another foster mom, who summed it up perfectly:
“We don’t do it because we aren’t afraid of heartbreak, but because we are afraid of what would happen to them without us.”
Are you a foster parent? Have you ever thought of fostering?Image credit: Peter Dedina