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

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Heartwrenching But Naive Question

In my previous post I discussed the idea of taking (or leaving) foster kids on vacation with the rest of one's family. I noted that we had left Fosterboy behind on a couple of occassions. I received this comment from Rocky:

How can you even question whether or not to take along a foster child on your vacation? You knew what you were getting yourself into when aggreeing to house the child. As it is the child feel estranged and different, do you need to emphasize that by not taking him along. The most you can do to help the child adjust is make him feel a part of the family. We are one family and if we need a vacation so does he. He deserves it at least as much as the rest of us.
Rocky is absolutely right. How can you do that to a little boy who already feels so displaced? But Rocky is also profoundly wrong.

Rocky says: You knew what you were getting yourself into when aggreeing to house the child.

Is that so? Ask any foster family that cared for a difficult child (most of them)whether they had any clue as to what they were really getting into. Not even close.

What about our children? Did they know what they were getting into? Did they sign on for this? Is it fair to them to wreck their vacations by taking along a difficult foster child? Are they entitled to a break?

What about the foster child himself? Is it in the interest of a child with ADHD to take him on a 12 hour plane ride when he can't, for example, sit in shul for more than five minutes? What if he does very poorly when taken out of his environment and not provided the immense amount of structure that he needs?

Is it in the interest of a foster child to have his foster parents and foster siblings stressed out beyond belief or would he be better off with foster parents and foster siblings who have relaxed and recharged their batteries largely because they spent 10 days away from him?

I am not trying to justify our actions. But things are not so simple as they seem. Leaving Fosterboy behind was a wrenching decision. But it was an easy decision and I think it was the right decision. I would do it again.



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