What Foster Parents Wish Others Knew

First, I want to thank NPR for the wonderful story on foster families.  We are going to highlight the heart gripping truths of what it is really like in a foster home.  Particularly we want you to see what several foster parents have to say about having foster youth.

First up Michelle Burnette who has been a foster parent for more than 15 years.  She's fostered more than 40 kids.  She lives in Leonardtown, Maryland.  Michelle wants to rebut misconceptions that most people have about foster parents.  Listen to what she has to say...

Question: So 15 years and more than 40 kids is a lot, but can you remember your very first experience, the first kid or kids that you ever fostered?

Burnette: "Oh, I definitely can, even though it's been 15 years, it almost seems like yesterday.  I like to think that I was pretty organized, and I'd gone through all the classes with my husband, and we had everything ready in that February that we got the call.  And I opened my door to this set of coal-black eyes that were bloodshot and behind that one was another little one peering around.  I was met with don't touch me, you're not my mommy, I don't want you to touch me and these screams.  And I started to panic, thinking to myself I want my own mommy at that time."

Question: What do you wish more people knew about foster parenting?  What's an essential piece of information that people don't seem to go?

Burnette: "Well, I think one of the biggest things...we don't consider ourselves saints.  We...feel everybody has a gift...to share."  Burnette also said, "And I think, the other thing that people don't understand is we're not getting rich off this.  You know, I don't have a Ferrari parked in my garage.  I have a 15-passenger van that has balding tires..."

Next is Rob from Myrtle Beach, SC.

Question: Well, you've been a foster parents for more than 10 years.  What do we knot know about your experience?

Rob: "How much you can change a child's life for the long term, even if you only have the child for a few days.  Generally speaking, these kids come from homes that lack structure, they lack rules and people don't pitch in to help one another out.  And even spending just a weekend in a home where people are loving and helpful and they take care of the house and they have structure and some rules in place can change the way they view their whole future. Rob goes on the say, "And we've had kids where the kids have gone back to their biological parents and explained these rules and helped their nuclear family improve over the long term."

The final person we'll take an excerpt from is Julie, a foster parent.

Question: And what one thing do you wish people knew about foster parenting?

Julie: "Well, there's a couple things.  I do teenagers and - like I was talking to the gentleman on the phone, you know, the thing is that I wish they knew that how much patience you have to have, you know? And you have made a comment about, you know, you wish that they would be able sit down and kind of, like, help them, you know, decide where they're going to go.  We take teenagers, and there's no way any teenager will go, yeah, I'm going to stay here, you know?  Julie continues to say, "And then the other comment I want to make was you had just mentioned about people staying in you had just mentioned about people staying in contact.  I still stay in contact with the third child that I had in my home.  I still talk to her and her mom all the time, you know?  And these kids come back, and they come back for food."

Read & listen to the full article: http://www.npr.org/2013/03/21/174958972/the-foster-care-system-what-parents-wish-we-knew?ft=1&f=5&utm_source=Professionals&utm_campaign=bbfaa4e410-Information_Corner_April_13_c&utm_medium=email


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