Thursday, September 3, 2009

Answers, part 3

SocialWrkr24/7 asked:

I'd like to know WHY you've decided to be a foster parent. Especially - why you've decided to do it as a single person. And, if I haven't already gotten too personal... what the steps were in preparing yourself (living space, finances, telling family/friends etc) for actually doing it!

This is going to be a fun question to answer because there are so many parts, and I like to talk about myself. (Speaking of which, I find it SO HARD not to talk to my real life friends about having this blog. I almost spilled the beans this morning, but was very proud of myself for holding my tongue.)

1. Why I decided to be a foster parent.

When I was in college, one of the community service organizations I was in had a weekly volunteer day at Faith House (yes, I'm giving away the city in which I went to college). I didn't start going until second semester senior year but as soon as I did, I was just in love with the kids. If you poke around their website, you'll see that it is a FIFTY-FOUR bed facility. And while the organization does foster parent training, there are kids who live at Faith House more or less indefinitely because there aren't foster homes for them.

Well, this just broke my heart. How could there not be homes for these adorable kids (who, I should add, were very well-behaved, at least while I was there--though they did get yelled at by staff when they tried to play with my hair...which I enjoyed them doing but was apparently against the rules)? Ever since then, my One Defined Goal has been to be a foster parent.

2. Why do it while single?

Okay, confession time. The last guy I dated was six years ago. Really. So it's not like being a foster parent is going to negatively impact my vibrant dating life. And if I waited until I had a partner, who's to say that the partner would be interested in fostering? No, better to do it now. It can only have a positive impact on my personal life. I will be forced to adapt to a life where I'm not the center of my attention and where I have to communicate well--traits that will help in a dating relationship. And maybe fostering will attract someone, who knows?

There was a while when I didn't think I was going to be able to foster until I had a partner because I didn't see how I was going to be able to afford a two-bedroom home on a single income. Housing prices are high where I live, and with my income, I would qualify for only a $xx mortgage. (No, silly, not a two-digit number.) Two-bedroom condos where I live go for about 2 times $xx. But friends with a two-bedroom apartment in a super-affordable building were moving, so I snatched it up from them. I don't have the feeling of accomplishment that I think I would have if I were a homeowner, but ultimately I'm saving a lot of money over if I owned the same amount of space.

3. How I prepared.

Since this has been my goal for more than ten years now, I've been doing a lot of preparing. For a while, I was imposing steps for myself--I have to make a budget. I have to eat vegetables with dinner every day. I have to wash the dishes every day.--to prove to myself that I'm responsible enough to take care of a kid. But once the two-bedroom apartment was a reality, all those went out the window.

Partially, this is possible only because I have a financial cushion and I am unintentionally quite frugal. (By that I mean that I happen to spend less than I make usually, because I don't eat out much and I don't go to movies and I'm too cheap to do more expensive activities.) I'm very lucky in that respect.

Living space I think I've answered already.

My friends I basically told when they each said something to the effect of "wow, a 2 bedroom apartment! Are you going to have a roommate?" The word has spread (of course, there has been plenty of time for it to spread!) as my friends tell other people.

I was most nervous about telling my parents. I thought they would accuse me of having not thought through it, that I hadn't thought of all of the logistical implications of single parenting and of parenting foster kids in particular. I thought they would bring up my cousin, who was adopted as an older child (he's much older than me, so I don't know how old "older" was in his case) and isn't really part of the family anymore. So after they had made comments about "their bedroom" in my new apartment, I screwed up my courage to talk to them. They live only an hour from me, so I went to their house and when we sat down to dinner, I told them that the second bedroom wasn't for them, it was for a foster child. Their reaction was much different than I expected. The first thing my mom said was "oh good, we'll have another kid here for Thanksgiving."

So there you have it. Anything else you want to know? :-)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for answering! I am working on getting my life together enough to foster -my goal is within the next two years. Housing is definitely a major hurdle - but my long work hours could also be tricky.

    The "partner" thing is something I still go back and forth about. Its been at least six years since my last guy too! But I have some friends who think that me becoming a foster parent = me giving up. I don't really see it that way - but who knows?

    Here's one more question for you - are you planning to only foster, or is adoption a possibility?