that whole refugee kid thing

3 Jun

I’ve struggled for a good way to put this all into words for over a month or so now.  I was just not going to write about it, because then it would just go away–a forgotten plan.   Except people have been asking about it.  And I’m tapering, so I have extra time to think and a sink full of dishes to do, so here I am typing instead.


So first of all, to catch you up-to-date if you haven’t been following along: Eric and I had decided to move forward with the process of fostering some unaccompanied refugee kids.  I’d go back and find links to the blogs where we discussed our reasons and motivations, but I’m too lazy.  Suffice to say that the opportunity fell into our laps–it was not something we were seeking out.  In fact, in all of our previous talks about growing our family, fostering/adoption had kind of left us both at a standstill of mixed emotions, thoughts and questions.  But when the opportunity presented itself, we felt compelled.  We were both excited.  So excited that we spent the weekend after we sent in paperwork rearranging the house to make a comfortable bedroom for two kids (because we wanted siblings or at last 2 kids with the same language background).


We were committed to this process.  We knew it was going to change our lives in amazing, unforeseeable ways.  We went to get fingerprinted.  We had doctor visits (Doctor: “Do you have a drug problem?” Me: “Umm…no?”).  We had to be PPD tested (which led me to muse that apparently having a child of any kind, even non-biological, is going to involve needles…).  We had friends fill out recommendation letters and forms.  And we scheduled classes.


And then a couple of days before they were supposed to start, classes were not happening because there weren’t enough families.  So we were told we could complete the coursework on our own.  Perfect.  Except then a couple of days later we were told that they were going to wait to see if they could get more families and have classes.  And we started to get a little nervous.  Because this is a huge decision, and we needed to feel comfortable that things were organized and well-run. We insisted we wanted to stick with the agreed upon plan of books on our own so we could hopefully welcome some kids into our home and our lives over the summer, when we could get situated before school started.


We had our first ever face-to-face meeting.  It did not go well.  We felt uncomfortable.  We were given a case file that we had questions about (questions about the big things, like “if we get a child who has a history of sexual abuse, what kinds of counseling are available thru your program or are we responsible for setting that kind of thing up ourselves?”).  We were made to feel like those questions were a problem.  When I pulled out a notebook where I’d been writing down our overall questions about the program, I actually got an eye roll.  Apparently questions are a bad thing?  You’d think they’d be happy that we were giving this so much thought, really wanting to do things right.  When I mentioned we needed to go home to talk about the case file and the program, I got a cold blank stare.  Apparently discussing things together was a problem.  We were told we didn’t want two kids–we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into and one was going to be more than enough for us to handle.  We were treated as though we were idiots, incompetent, children ourselves.


When someone is condescending, I tend to get angry, but also to start to believe that maybe I am less than (self-esteem issues–working on it).  Like, oh shit maybe we ARE in over our heads and this was a really stupid thing to ever think we could do.  Eric, on the other hand, just got angry.  Either way, we both left feeling that the meeting went poorly, that the woman hated us, and that this was pretty much a done deal.


I opened the books that night to see what we’d be learning and that was the nail in the coffin.  Books written for a child–if the woman we’d met with had been condescending, these books were downright insulting.  An analogy about learning being a road trip–questions were fuel stops, tow truck stickers to put in the book where you “break down” so you can discuss your questions later.  It was painful.  It was ridiculous.  We both have masters degrees and work with children from backgrounds of trauma every day and THIS is what we are expected to do “so we are ready”????  Meanwhile, a 16 year old who hasn’t even graduated high school is taking home her baby with just a car seat check before leaving the hospital.  Dafuq?  We knew there were going to be hoops to jump through, that the system needs to weed out the bad guys and make sure kids who have already had fucked up lives were able to have good, stable ones in a foster home.  But this…this was insanity.


We spent the night talking about how to proceed.  We were going to email the woman we’d met with, but she sent an email before we could…asking if she could put us down for taking the “child” (I added the quotation marks because he’s 17!) whose case file we’d looked at.  The one that had left us with so many questions, and the one we’d said we weren’t really interested in (a 17 year old…on our application we’d clearly stated we wouldn’t want kids older than early teens, and we’d been told in our initial meeting that children who were younger and siblings would be a possibility, and had asked this woman about it, and she’d just beat around the bush and never actually answered the question).  Eric responded with some questions about the program, namely the possibility of younger kids.


And we literally never heard back.


So that’s that.  It’s sad.  It’s shitty (for us, but especially for the kids sitting in a camp right now wondering when they’ll get out).  It’s par for the course when it comes to us trying to grow our family.  We’ll leave it there for now.  Maybe I’ll write another day about domestic fostering and adoption. But for now, just know that we aren’t sure either of those are options we are interested in (and/or CAN especially financially) pursue.


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