Many of my readers already know that my husband and I foster children and have been doing so for quite some time. Somewhere along the line, most probably because of my background in social work, we started to get the more difficult children with the more intense behavior problems and for a while, we actually involved ourselves with a program specifically preparing us more for the more intense behaviors.
I believe that is when we more or less became our agency’s home for teenage boys. It sort of happened quite naturally because most of the children with the intense behaviors turned out to be males between the ages of 13 and 18. And now, almost all the referrals that get sent our way are for housing teenage boys.
The two cats in the house are female, so even though we are very outnumbered, I don’t mind. I actually enjoy most of the children that pass through our home. As many of you have heard me gripe in the past, my main frustrations come from the system itself. And today is no exception.
For nearly two weeks, we have been housing a sibling group (two brothers, aged 15 and 13) along with the older boy we have had here for a while longer who is 17. The thing that stands out about the two brothers is that unlike almost every other child we have fostered, they have absolutely no desire to go back home. They both want the opposite. They want to stay on here and not be returned home. Add to that the fact that their biological mother also feels that way. She does not want her children back home.
The problem is that the county children and youth agency (an organization that I definitely don’t feel warm and fluffy about) wants the boys to be placed back home with their mother and the man they have been told to call step dad, despite everybody’s desires and past actions (including mom taking $350 that was donated to her by the agency to get away from an abusive relationship with this man.) Mom took the boys to her mom’s in another state for a month, but as soon as she was able to scrounge up enough money for a cell phone she reconnected with her paramour and pulled the boys back with her for another go at it.
The boys have told the case workers about their 23 year old half-sister who mom sent away at the age of 16 because she said she was getting too difficult. And I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to predict that sending the boys home will only result in more intense disruptions in their already chaotic lives. Not only that, but isn’t it quite obvious that this mom doesn’t really have what she needs (for whatever reason) to care for her children?
So today the boys were transported up to their county courthouse, where a magistrate will decide where they will be placed. The boys are no angles, believe me, but they are workable and last night they both opted to sit and write a letter to the magistrate so they could have their say that way as well.
I felt the need to write about them here because I used to be quite angry at my parents when I was a teenager and came to the realization of how imperfect they were. But when I live through situations like this, and see the hands others are dealt, I feel so grateful for what I had. Although we had many disagreements, some of them were anything but pretty, I never really questioned my parents’ love. Neither of my parents ever got anything for themselves until my needs and the needs of my sisters were met.
I shake my head and just wonder what it must be like to be on the cusp of entering the world as a young adult and seeing that I am unloved by those people who brought me into the world.
Again, we are approaching the holiday season in which we can choose to direct our focus to that of “peace on earth and goodwill to man.” By seeing all the blessings we may take for granted that we have been given, we can find how to begin to do just that!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!