Heads or Tails Tuesdays: My Job

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My current job is foster parent. When we moved to Canada, I had to quit my job working with youth (my title was Counselor), and was not allowed to work up here until the immigration process was finished (or so we were told numerous times, but that’s a story for another day.) While working with the youth who had become part of the judicial system, I became aware of how many of them were in foster care. Through talking to the kids, I also became aware of how many of them were unhappy in their foster homes.

During the same period of time, my spousal unit was working in another unit, also as a Counselor, and we would discuss “our” kids and the possibility of being foster parents ourselves (because we were idealistic and really hoped we could make a difference in someone’s life.) Because of restrictions placed by our employer, we could not then be foster parents, but by moving, we had the opportunity, so we investigated the possibility.

The process took a while, but we were finally approved, with a caveat: the parents of the children entering the Social Services system have the option to say their children are not allowed to be placed in our home! This has not been mentioned in a while now, but there was a time when it rankled. So much about our society is upside down and backwards and this so clearly illustrates it.

My spousal unit and I have education, specialized training and work experience in our background, which should qualify us to work with anyone’s kids. Without exception, the parents of our foster children have had numerous problems, including multiple addictions, abuse (all types), mental illness and disrupted families. None of the parents have had the specialized training we have had. They have all been heterosexual, many have been religious. All of them have been unemployed. Their children have been taken away from their homes and put into Provincial care. Yet, despite the intense vetting and training necessary for us to complete to become foster parents, the “powers that be” have decreed that these parents are better qualified than the trained Social Workers to decide whether or not we are the people who should foster their children, based upon, you guessed it, our sexuality!

We are the people who will get up in the middle of the night with their children when the have nightmares, ensure they have nourishing meals before school, teach them how to read, potty train them, take them to the many, many, many medical appointments they have, and most of all, teach them to feel safe and laugh again, and the parents who have put these children in this difficult situation to begin with, these are the people whose judgment will be trusted to determine if we are qualified and capable of caring for their children — based solely upon our sexuality. In no other situation will any of the parents be given the opportunity to place their stamp of approval on prospective foster parents.

Writing is truly cathartic. I didn’t realize that still bothered me so much, until I sat down to start writing about my job! Foster parent. Not an easy job, by any means, but we have been given the gift of love, over and over again. We have loved children from many different life situations and been their life teachers. We have put together new bikes, flown kites and done happy dances for the first 100% ever on a spelling test, and we have dealt with autistic children who wander at night, fetal alcohol syndrome children who have difficult times comprehending, and children who have a compromised ability to speak because of their ever-changing and constantly stressful life circumstances. With that in mind, the most difficult part of my job, so far, has been saying goodbye to the little personalities we have come to love so much. Each child brings a different story of sadness and a different skill set to deal with that sadness. My hope is that we have been able, in our short time, to help them build their resiliency, and, by the time they leave us, know that they are not only lovable, but loved.

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~ by byrningbunny on May 28, 2008.

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