People are naturally curious when they see foster families. Rarely are we inconspicuous. We are oftentimes mismatched, transracial, multilingual, interfaith and full of various challenges. In general, we don’t blend in. Oftentimes, people feel compelled to comment and they fail to filter their every thought from being an obligatory question that requires a forced answer. Here are the worst offenders:
1. The “Are they yours yet?” people.
There are so many assumptions in this question. The goal of foster care is rarely adoption — the first goal is always reunification of the family. Foster parents have to support this whether they agree or not. If a foster child’s goal does get changed to adoption it still can take years and years. Don’t worry, we’ll shout it from the mountain tops once the adoption finally goes through.
2. The “I could never do that” people.
Yes, we know, you and everybody else are way too loving/sensitive/caring than we are to be able to become attached to a child in need and then let them go back to their original family when it’s safe. Fortunately, we foster parents are cold-hearted jerks and we’re totally unaffected by the loss of a family member. Thank goodness!
3. The “Why don’t you just have your own?” people.
I usually answer “For the same reason that you’re deciding not to foster children in need — personal choice.” However, I don’t know how to say it without coming across as snotty. If I think you’re the kind of person who may ask me that, I’m just going to avoid you.
4. The “God bless you” people.
I didn’t sneeze, I’m just a foster parent. Oh, you meant to suggest that I’m an amazing saintly person? Well, I’m not. At all. In fact, I know a lot of foster parents whose morality I question. But I get it though, you’re trying to be nice and I appreciate that. Or, at least I know I should. But it makes me, and a lot of other foster parents I know, feel uncomfortable.
5. The “I want to foster too, how do I get a perfect baby to adopt?” people.
Again, the goal of foster care is to keep families together, not take them apart. Adoption does happen, but only after foster care has failed. And while you probably didn’t use the word “perfect” in describing the kind of child you want, you did imply it. You don’t want a child born with drugs in their system, you don’t want her to have special needs, you want her to be light-skinned, you don’t want regular family visits, etc. Then foster care isn’t for you. Convincing you of this isn’t how I want to spend my time though, so I’m going to avoid, avoid, avoid.More On