Saturday, May 25, 2013


I have always been fascinated with foster families and how they make things work.  I am finding out that a lot of my friends and family are also equally interested, so I thought I would pull together a few of the common questions we get and try to answer them.  If you have other questions, feel free to ask them- we love to share about our work with Safe Families!

Do you get to pick the kids you get?
Yes.  Kids come to us in two ways- either we respond to an email or text that describes the need briefly.  For example:

"Safe Family needed for 1 yr old girl and 4 yr old boy, 2 weeks starting tomorrow, mom hospitalized with difficult pregnancy.  Can separate.  Prefer SF on NW side.  Call or txt Betty"

Or we get a call from the office asking us about taking a specific child.  I think they try to call a few families who might be a good match before they post the need, if they have time.  We can always say no- and have for a few kids who we didn't think would be a good match for our family.

Can you adopt the kids?
The short answer is NO.  Safe Families does not do adoptions and these children are not up for adoption.

In theory, IF a child in our care was deemed unable to return to his parents, the state would PROBABLY let him remain in our care while we worked to get our foster care license (40 hours of training, homestudy, etc).  Then, the parents would most likely have several years to prove that they can care for the child before their rights could be terminated.  Then we would have to qualify as adoptive parents for the child and eventually the adoption could be granted.  But the main goal of both Safe Families and foster care is to reunify families.

If we wanted to adopt a child, this is NOT how we would go about it.  I would never say never, but we are not doing this with hopes of adopting.

Do you know anything about the kids when they arrive?
One thing we love about SF is that they are super honest with us.  They tell us what that they know about the children and the situation.  Now, this is not always a ton of information, but it is usually at least a decent amount...age, basic stats and health, if the child has been placed with SF before, if the state is involved with the case, why the parent is requesting placement, etc.  They also do a great job of keeping us up to date with what is going on, and appreciate it when we let them know what we find out about the kids and the families as we work with them.

Do they come with stuff?
All of our kids have come with something, but not a ton.  They have all come with at least a few diapers and a couple of outfits.  We have bins of clothes in each size up through 6T and we just pull out what we need for the kids.  We have baby gear- bouncy seat, pack n play, exersaucer, high chair.  We stock diapers in most different least enough to last us until we could make a Target run.  We have some formula on hand, and we have bottles.  We have extra carseats.  Everything they bring to our home gets an immediate trip through the washing machine...just to be careful.

Do you know their back story and their family?
Yes, to an extent.  We get the parent's phone number, and she gets ours.  With most parents, we text or call back and forth.  The contact has varied from one mom who called multiple times a day to another mom we never heard from.  It really depends on the situation.  Our goal is to support the mom, encourage her to get her life back on track so that she can get her child back where he belongs, with her.  It is not our job to do the tough love- the social workers are wonderful (and trained) to do that.  Mostly, we just share info about the child, remind her that her kiddo misses her and can't wait to be returned to her, and encourage her efforts towards progress.

The situation is a bit different if the state is involved...sometimes a child is placed with Safe Families while the state does an investigation.  In this case, we have to be a bit more judicious with our contact.

Do you keep in contact with the kids?
We have not been doing this that long, but we have kept in contact with a couple of our kiddos.  The moms call or text now and then, and we've done a bit of babysitting for our past kids.  Again, it depends on the situation.  We like it when we hear from them!

Do the parents know where you live?
Well, let's be honest.  Anyone with Google and ten minutes can figure out where we live.  They have our name and phone number.  If they wanted to find us, they could.  But that doesn't really worry us- at least it hasn't been an issue yet.

Do you get paid or get a stipend?
No.  This is a volunteer position and we provide what the children need.  That said, Safe Families has some wonderful donors and our family coach is happy to help us find what we it clothes in different sizes or seasons than we have, formula, diapers, or car seats.  We've also had generous friends give us stuff as well.

What kind of reactions do you get from people?
We frequently get asked if they are all ours.  People have been curious- particularly when the child we're hosting does not look like us.  So far, all the comments have been pretty positive.  Lots of smiles, "good lucks" and "better you than me's."  But by far, the comment we get the most is: "Wow!  You've got your hands full!"

Which brings me to my exciting news...I have a real domain name now!

So there you have it...hope that was helpful or at least a bit interesting.  If you have other questions, feel free to ask!  And if this sounds like something your family might like to do, I highly recommend checking into it- it has been very rewarding and we really enjoy our work with Safe Families.  There is a great need for Safe Families and it is not that hard- I promise!

P.S. I have already written about two other common questions: Is It Hard to Say Goodbye and Is It Fair to our Own Kids?

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  1. This is a great FAQ. My parents did foster care for a few years when I was in elementary school. Being an only child, I both loved and hated it (loved having siblings for the first time, but hated it when I couldn't have my alone time). We got really close to one family (a baby who stayed with us from birth to one year) and it was so gratifying when her mom got cleaned up, got her back and made a new life for both of them.

  2. This is very interesting, particularly since I'd like to either foster or adopt if I get married one day.