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Foster In Texas Archives • Upbring

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Foster Care FAQ: Disproving the Myths

If you’re thinking about becoming a foster parent, you probably have a lot of questions about what the process looks like. At Upbring, we strive to be honest with potential foster parents and give them the information they need to make a knowledgeable decision about whether or not fostering is right for them. Fostering a child comes with its challenges, but none that cannot be managed with proper training and support. There are many common myths and misconceptions about foster care. Here’s the truth about the five most commonly heard:

 

1. I have no choice about the child that is placed in my home

Foster parents are given the freedom to help create the kind of environment they want for their home. This process involves evaluating the type of child(ren) that you think will best fit in with your family. You can choose a child’s age range and gender as well as the range of behaviors that you feel comfortable parenting. Keep in mind that the smaller the age range you give, the longer it will likely take for you to be matched with a child.

 

2. I must be wealthy

If worrying that you don’t have enough money to provide for a child is the only thing holding you back from becoming a foster parent, don’t let that stop you. While foster care is not an experience that you can financially profit from (you must have a regular source of income that is not government assistance), help is offered through a daily reimbursement rate. This predetermined dollar amount is provided for each day a child resides in your home to assist with purchasing his or her basic need items like clothing and food. The daily reimbursement rate is disbursed on a monthly basis and can also be used to offer your child opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities like dance class, music lessons or playing on a sports team.

 

3. I’m too old to be a foster parent

While the minimum age is 21, there is no maximum age to welcome a child in foster care into your home. As long as you are emotionally and physically healthy, have a regular source of income and have no criminal history or history of abusing a child or another adult, you are eligible to care for a child in foster care. Foster parents range in age and represent a variety of different family structures. Some have other children in their home already and others do not. Retirees who are nostalgic for the joy and busyness of having a child at home often make excellent foster parents.

 

4. I’ll be on my own without any help

At Upbring, we work to make sure that each child placed into a foster home is well cared for and that each family providing for them has the support and resources needed to be successful. When you foster through Foster In Texas (FIT), you are assigned a family services worker who is on call at all times. If you have a question, are feeling overwhelmed or need to report an incident, simply pick up the phone and call our 24/7 local support line. FIT also provides foster parents with 30 hours of training per year, monthly support groups, quarterly events such as a day at the zoo or an appreciation dinner, respite care and wraparound health care for children. Our goal is to make sure that every foster parent knows that they are not in this alone.

 

5. I have to be married and own a home

Both single people and married couples (if you have been married for at least two years) can welcome a child in foster care into their home. While a home screening and a safety inspection of your place of residence are both required before a child can enter your care, passing is not at all contingent on whether you own or rent your home.

 

Fostering through Upbring means that you are joining a community of caring staff and like-minded parents who all have the same goal of caring for children who need loving, supportive families. While fostering a child can be challenging at times, our foster families are supported throughout their entire journey and are given all the resources they need to feel comfortable. If you think you are interested in becoming a foster parent, we want to hear from you! Please take a minute to fill out our Foster Inquiry Form so that we can connect you with a FIT representative who will give you additional information and answer any questions you may have.

National Foster Care Month: The Wright’s Story

May is National Foster Care Month. Right now, there are more than 440,000 children in foster care across the United States with nearly 30,000 children in foster care in the state of Texas alone. The need for loving and compassionate foster parents is evident. Ash and Patty Wright heard the call and answered with open arms. They welcomed their now adopted son, Nathan, into their hearts and their home. We’re honored to share the Wright’s foster care journey.

 

There are thousands of children in Texas who need kindhearted people like Ash and Patty to provide a safe and loving home where they feel seen and encouraged. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can begin your own foster journey, fill out our Foster Inquiry Form at Upbring.org/FosterInfo. One of our Foster In Texas team members will reach out to you.

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Foster Friday: Building Bridges Between Foster and Biological Parents

Editor’s Note: Today on Foster Friday, we are honored to share a true story from a friend of Upbring, Jami Amerine. Jami is a loving mother and a passionate advocate for foster care and adoption. With years of experience under her belt, she lends support and advice to those interested in becoming foster parents. The following story is told by Jami in her own words and from her personal experience with foster care.

 

As I sat in the waiting room of the local Child Protection Services office, the little girl lying in my lap never stirred. I watched her sleep and wondered if her mother, now three minutes late to the visit, was as heartbroken.

 

She was.

 

Moments later, the mother bolted through the door with her caseworker walking closely behind her. She dropped to her knees in front of me and snatched the sleeping child from my arms. She buried her face in the child’s curls, rocked her back and forth and sobbed.

 

She looked at me with fury.

 

“Don’t you dare cut her hair!”

 

“I wouldn’t,” I promised. “I would never do that.”

 

She barked, “Is she eating?”

 

“Yes, she ate two pancakes for breakfast, a few bites of bacon, and she slept through the night, both nights.”

 

The child opened her eyes, examined the face of her mother, smiled and dozed off again.

 

She softened, just a little, “I heard that you have sons. Teenage sons?” Her voice cracked. “No offense to you, but I don’t want her in a house with boys. I am sure you’re nice, but I was molested.” A tear escaped her, “I don’t want that for her. I don’t want her to be hurt anymore because of me.”

 

This was not the first time I was aware of the turmoil faced by parents whose children were removed from their care.

 

The little girl in this story? Well, I was able to have a decent relationship with her mother. Unfortunately, this was not the case with her birth father.

 

However, I learned a few things in my fostering journey. One thing that has helped me in every situation is to recognize the humanity of the birth parent.

 

Believe me – I understand the frustration and outrage we as foster parents encounter. I have had two injured children placed in my care. One child’s family was indignant, they were never sorry, and they were furious with me. In their minds, I took their child. The bottom line, in that case, was this: I cannot control what other people think or feel. I was available and kind to them. Everyone is capable of anything. This is paramount in exuding a spirit of compassion and empathy.

 

In the second case, the mother who had, in fact, hurt her child was sorry. That is the first thing she said at the post-72-hour meeting. “I am so sorry. I am so sorry.” This was vital to me in the months that proceeded. She blamed no one else, and she wanted to do whatever it took to get her baby back and be the stability her child needed.

 

For me, looking at the birth parents with an open mind helps advance reunification (when possible) and progress in exponential ways.

 

In the moments upon meeting each parent for the first time, I would remind myself that the situation was not about me. Except in incidents of sexual abuse or severe neglect and physical abuse, I tried to remember that I had made mistakes in my parenting. And, personally, I can think of nothing more terrifying than being away from my children, knowing they are with someone neither of us knows.

 

Most certainly, with parents who have suffered abuse, like the mom who did not want her little girl around teenage boys, being a good listener is critical. In that case, the birth mother was not only separated from her daughter, but her fears were tangible based on her own childhood abuse. Identifying with those fears and communicating with respect and compassion took the mother from a place where she wasn’t just wandering through the motions of reunification but was fully invested in progress.

 

Once she realized my commitment to her daughter and to her, she got very serious about making the changes needed.

 

I have found that when foster families can convey compassion and a non-judgmental stance with birth families, we alleviate the terror and replace it with sanctuary. Indeed, this is not always possible. However, as much as I love children, I was richly blessed by the restoration stories I partook in.

 

Disclaimer: Jami did not foster through Upbring Foster In Texas.

At Upbring, we put the safety and well-being of the children in our care first. Relationships with biological families are encouraged as long as it is safe for the child or children involved. The primary goal for CPS is to reunite children with their biological families after the families can correct the issues that resulted in the removal. What this means is that while the child is in foster care, CPS offers services and creates plans for the biological family to regain custody of their children. Ultimately, if the biological family complies with all terms of the plan and is involved in regaining full custody, the children will be returned. Maintaining healthy relationships and supporting the biological family while in this process can create a smoother transition if and when the child is reunited.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jami Amerine is an author, speaker, blogger and artist. She has two books, Stolen Jesus, an Unconventional Search for the Real Savior and Sacred Ground Sticky Floors: How Less than Perfect Parents Can Raise (Kind of) Great Kids. She and her husband, Justin, have six children and live in North Houston. Jami holds an undergraduate degree in Family Consumer Sciences and a master’s degree in Education, Counseling and Human Development. She and her husband are advocates for foster care, adoption and foster care reform.

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Foster Friday: 5 Guidelines for Establishing a Healthy Household

So, you’ve decided to foster a child what now? Now is the time to start imagining the kind of family environment you want to create. One essential part of thinking this through and setting your family up for success as you welcome in a new member is to determine house rules. While setting appropriate house rules depends on factors like the age of the child you are welcoming into your family, here are five guidelines to help you get started:
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Foster Friday: Justin’s Story

Being a teenager comes with its fair share of difficulties. You’re still a kid, but you’re taking on more freedom and responsibility with each passing year. The pressure is on to maintain good grades, be active in extracurriculars and begin to plan for your future. Imagine balancing all of that while bouncing from foster home to foster home.

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What You Need to Know About Fostering Siblings

Each day, children who have experienced abuse and neglect enter the foster care system. The need for loving, compassionate and patient foster parents is evident. But, what might not be so obvious is the need for foster parents who provide for a specific population of children in foster care, such as sibling groups. Research has shown that siblings placed in foster homes together often feel more secure and can help each other adjust to their new family and community. We sat down with foster parent Hannah* to discuss the rewards and complexities that come with fostering sibling groups.

 

Hannah has worked for Upbring for almost five years, several of which she spent as a caseworker for Foster In Texas. After much thoughtful consideration and prayer, Hannah and her husband decided to begin their foster journey. Not too long after their training was complete, and licensing was approved, they received a call and chose to accept not one child, but two young sisters into their home.

 

Why is it important to keep siblings together?

There are so many reasons why we should all focus on keeping siblings together. I can’t imagine the trauma of being removed from your home and everyone you know. That alone is a significant event for any child. Beyond that, imagine getting into a car with a stranger and watching your sibling get into a different car. You both drive off, and you have no idea where either of you is headed. The security of knowing where one of your loved ones is has a profound impact when experiencing hard things. My girls have a significant connection. In the beginning, as they were getting to know us, they found comfort in each other. The older sister would watch her little sister fall asleep each night refusing to sleep herself until she knew her sister was safe and sleeping. To this day, after living with us for seven months, if they are ever apart, they constantly ask about each other. They comfort and teach each other daily.

 

Are there any additional requirements to be approved to foster siblings?

Not at all. Just let your agency or caseworker know you are interested in more than one child and they will make sure your license reflects that.

 

What if we don’t have the ability to foster a sibling group? What will happen to the other siblings?

It is my understanding that keeping siblings together will always be a top priority for Child Protective Services and foster care placement agencies. If all options are exhausted and that is not possible, then the children might be placed in separate homes. Again, this only happens after all other options have been exhausted. Even after placing them in separate homes, if a home that will accommodate all siblings is later found, then the children could be moved to that home instead.

 

How can we help siblings stay connected if they are in different foster families?

If a sibling set is separated, it’s not a matter of how you can help but more of a requirement of the state. CPS will likely require sibling visits. Creating positive relationships with the biological family and the other foster families is helpful. Sometimes the use of technology is available depending on the age of the child and circumstances of the case. Facetime, texting and phone calls can be a great aid to maintaining connection.

 

Will fostering siblings mean extra meetings, appointments and family visits?

Typically, the siblings will share family visits with their bio family. Most of the time CPS can make sure that meetings and appointments required in their services apply to all siblings. When it comes to medical appointments or appointments with schools or teachers, each child will have their own scheduled times, although many doctors will make sure you can do the appointments back to back or even all together at the same time!

 

What are the rewards and challenges that come with fostering siblings?

They are each individuals and have different needs. They require different parenting methods or redirections. They each have different motivators, personalities and schedules. It’s a challenge to get to know more than one child and learn the things that make them tick. The transition can be stark. Our family went from a family of two to a family of four overnight. There was a season where we were all figuring it out, learning each other, and setting boundaries, those things were hard; but, they were such a blessing too. The rewards of having our girls together are endless. There’s not much I wouldn’t do to preserve their love for each other and the connection they have. Their relationship helps me to understand who they are. When one can’t articulate an emotion, feeling or memory, the other can help. They are also able to comfort and bring each other joy in a way that I’m not sure anyone else could. They feel safer knowing their sibling is also safe. I earn the trust of one child when they watch me with the other. They make each other feel safer, and together they make me a better parent.

 

Every child is a gift, and you can be a warrior who fights for the dreams of children in your community as a foster family. If foster care is something you’ve been considering, or you’ve experienced firsthand what a difference a supportive, loving home can make in the life of a child in foster care, why not consider saying “yes” to siblings? Your “yes” can help us break the cycle of child abuse. To request more information about how you can begin your foster journey, visit Upbring.org/FosterInfo where you can fill out our Foster Inquiry Form.

 

*While Hannah’s story is true, we used a pseudonym to protect her identity.
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Foster Friday: Welcoming Teens Into Your Home

Whether it’s reading a romantic novel, flipping through the pages of a family scrapbook or watching a breath-taking sunset, we all have something that tugs at our emotions.

Mark*—an amazing foster parent who has welcomed several children into his home throughout the years— gets a little choked up over the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “One of the kids I fostered loved that cartoon, so every time I see it, happy memories come to mind,” Mark said.

Mark has adopted three children and opened his home to others as a foster parent. While some families prefer to foster younger children, Mark has a heart for helping teens and tweens. Equal parts mentor and parent to the kids in his care, Mark stresses the importance of going to school, working hard for what they want and raising the bar for their future.

“Many of the kids I have fostered have experienced abuse or have seen the consequences drug addiction and violence can have on a family,” Mark said. “At first, it can be difficult for them to envision anything different. But when kids have someone who believes in them, they open their minds to other possibilities like a job, trade school or college.” Mark said it is at those times when he feels just as excited as the kids do!

Mark knows that the children he fosters will eventually move on to the next phase in their lives. But they always have a place in his heart. When asked to name his greatest wish for the kids he fosters, Mark said, “For them to believe in themselves and work toward their dreams.”

Right now there are hundreds of teens in Texas who need someone like Mark to provide a safe and loving home where they can learn, prepare for the future, and simply enjoy a typical high school experience. To learn more about what it is really like to foster a teenager, please complete the short inquiry form at www.upbring.org/fosterinfo and one of our knowledgeable Foster In Texas team members will be happy to answer your questions.

*Mark’s story is true, but his name and identifying information have been changed to protect the privacy of the children in his care.

 

If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent yourself, we’d love to hear from you! Visit Upbring.org/FosterInfo to submit our Foster Inquiry Form.