Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Foster Care Meeting 1

Yesterday night, we went to our first foster care training meeting. I was pretty excited about it, even though it was supposed to be four hours long (and it was). 

The instructor was pretty hilarious. He was entertaining and the time went really quickly. It was a lot like the first college class period. He told us what to expect for the next seven classes, what his goals were, and what he expected from us. 

One of his biggest points was that we needed to make sure that we were doing this for the right reason. It wasn't supposed to be about us, it was supposed to be about the children. He talked about misconceptions and told us that generally foster kids aren't out to murder our pets. In fact, he'd never heard of a single case of that happening. 

We watched a video about a young man who had "aged out" of foster care. That means that he turned 18 while still in the system and was never adopted. Even as a successful business man, you could still hear the pain in the man's voice as reflected on his feelings about why he had never been adopted. It was pretty sad. He told us that children who age out of the foster care system nearly always struggle with feelings of self-worth. No matter how successful they become, they always wonder why nobody wanted them.

He asked us to keep an open mind about the ages, genders, and circumstances of the children that we are going to be helping. 

Grig pointed out that foster care is a bit of a paradox. You are supposed to bring the kids in your home, agree to potentially adopt them if things don't work out with their birth mom, and yet put all of your efforts into get them reunified with their birth families. We're not sure how that's going to work out yet, but we're still feeling good about the path we're on. 

He brought up two chart that showed reasons that people decide to foster. The first chart were the good reasons that helped to make foster care effective. All of our reasons were on this first chart. It was things like: infertility, desire to help the children, have a bigger family, and adoption. The other chart were reasons that didn't really work. These were things like: income (hoping that foster care would earn you money), a playmate for your child, or because your family was pressuring you to have children. 

He also talked about parenting techniques. We didn't go into too much detail, because that will be covered in another class, but the things he said have already helped me to be a better parent today.

A few weeks ago, Kevin was melting down all the time. He would just cry and scream for an hour or two. Last night, the instructor told us that punishing a child, or disciplining them for acting out is ineffective unless you solve the reason WHY they're acting out. A tantrum is nearly a way of expressing a deeper problem. 

Kevin hasn't done that in a few weeks, but today after preschool, he suddenly had a major fit. For nearly an hour, he screamed and cried. I kept my cool pretty well, but after trying everything, I finally began praying and I remembered what the instructor had said. Kevin had only eaten a little for lunch, and he had been playing hard ever since. I figured out he was probably hungry. (Candy doesn't fill you up after all.) 

I began to cook food. He screamed about everything I was doing, but when I handed him a meatball, the crying ceased. As soon as he was done eating that and the rest of his food, he was a different child. My happy little guy was back. 
We sure love this kid.
I'm pretty grateful for the things that I've already been learning. I'm hoping to be a much better person, parent, and wife after I finish the training. Even if we weren't doing foster care, I feel like these will help me improve my parenting style. 

Kevin had a great time playing with some friends while we were at the meeting, and he fell asleep at their house. We brought him home and he went right to bed. It was a successful night. 

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