The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Understanding Fostering

MHW and I wrote a column that was published today in this week's Jewish Star (page 5).

We were responding to a well-meaning article in the previous addition that told the story of a young boy who was adopted by a nice family from Queens.

Unfortunately, the article made it sound like the kid was bounced around to a bunch of foster homes and had no sense of permanence or structure in his life.

The truth is that the boy, a sweet but totally out of control kid, stayed with friends of ours for three and a half years until the adoptive family took him.

Five previous families couldn't deal with this boy and two other families who intended to adopt him "gave him back" (to our friends, of course).

The truth is that our friends handled this boy with supernatural patience and care while raising 4 of their own kids. As someone who has fostered an extremely difficult child, I can tell you that you can't even imagine what it's like and the kind of havoc it wreaks on your own family. But our friends hung in there until Ohel found an adoptive family.

(It's worth noting that the couple that adopted him have one grown child. That is precisely the right profile you need to adopt a kid like that. They can focus all of their attention on the boy).

The other thing that people don't get is that fostering is a job. I know that sounds harsh, but that is what it is.

When Ohel calls they are asking you to take care of a kid that needs to be taken care of. Your job is to do the best to make that kid happy and secure and to give him or her structure, warmth and love.

The kids usually come with baggage. They are usually scared. They are often angry.

Your job is to deal with all that.

Sometimes you can't and you tell Ohel you can't and they try to find another home. Sometimes your kids can't deal with it and you tell Ohel to find a new home (You cannot sacrifice your own kids for the sake of doing a mitzvah).

Often it works out (almost always with difficulties that you handle).

In our current situation we've been blessed with a little girl who was removed from her home at a very early age and does not have the pathology that is so often seen in foster kids.

Finally, your job is to do the best job you can for as long as you are needed and then hope things work out for the best. If you've accomplished that, it is worth hoping that the child you've fostered will benefit (in one way or another) from the time he's spent in your home.

The point of our article was that while it's very admirable that a family adopted the young boy in the story, he would not have been adoptable had it not been for the hard work of our friends.



Post a Comment

<< Home