Posted by: fosteringcare | July 22, 2010

Breaking the “Rules”

One of the unwritten rules of foster care is that you should not take any children older than your youngest child.

            There are many reasons for this rule and that is what my parents had decided. We were an “Emergency Placement” home, which meant that we would take children immediately from “removal” until they were able to find a permanent foster home…and since my brother was 7, none older than 7.  Well, that first call for a sibling group was about two brothers, one was 11 months old and the other 9. We broke the rule. We said yes. What happens is that you hear their stories and your heart breaks and you think,”How in the world could we not take them? We have so much to offer.”  Your broken heart takes over and all of the logical reasons for “suggested rules” fly out the window. Bringing those boys into our home, our family was my initial reality-check about the reasons children are placed in foster care.

           My mother liked to say her dream was that children in foster care would either be so loved by two divorcing parents and they needed a place to stay until custody was decided, or that their mother was in the hospital, dying, and they needed a place to stay until she decided who would adopt her children.  Actually I know we did have one little girl placed with us once whose parents were in a custody battle, but that was one in 10 years. Reality is always far off the mark of our ideals and dreams. These little boys showed me that for the first time.  While their mother was out at bars or with boyfriends, the 9 yr. old was doing his best to take care of the baby…for a year.  When the social worker arrived, there was no food in the house, the baby was in his crib with a days old diaper and roaches, and he had Pepsi in his bottle. Shocking, utterly shocking.  In my Brady-Bunch world, things like that did not happen. Those things were not even on the “After School Specials” on TV. Little did I know that my Brady-Bunch world in the next few years was going to be blown wide open with a reality that I could not ever have imagined, even in my worst nightmares.



  1. So glad that you are sharing!

  2. Pepsi in a bottle?! Wow, count me in as part of the “Brady Bunch” crowd. Shocking. Stunning. Saddening.

  3. I am in constant awe of people like you, people who open their homes, their lives, their hearts in the name of fostering care. You’re not only caring for kids; you’re connected to everyone in that child’s family, immediate and extended, living or dead. It takes a special person to do what you do.

    I work in the juvenile justice system, where I see kids go into and come out of foster care. I see, with my own eyes, what happens when kids are lucky enough to go into solid placements, as well as what can result when kids go into placements that are less than nurturing. True, sometimes the foster family is great, and the kid doesn’t succeed. But the odds of a child developing to his or her potential sure are upped when the quality of foster care is high.

    Keep fostering, and keep sharing your reflections. It matters.

  4. Can’t wait to read more. My husband and I have been seriously considering fostering for a while now. Thanks for sharing from a different perspective.

  5. Pepsi and candy bars…..i turned out just fine though didnt I? Im glad you guys broke the rules. I often wonder where I would be had I not been adopted

    • Did you happen to notice I left out the names little bro? I guess people will know Iam not making this up! I try not to think about where you might be if we hadn’t kept you…but you arejumping to the endof the story, stop giving things away!

  6. Spencer’s post is too sweet, and so are you, Jane. I’m glad you guys broke the rules for him too.

  7. Thank you so much for doing this Jane! I can’t wait to share it with my “natural” children! LOL… What a great way to share your experience and help those of us still in the middle of it… Love you friend, and love your honesty… I want to share this with all my fostering buddies!

    • Please do share it. This isn’t really talked about much, (except by you and me ) and us “naturals” are greatly impacted by the experience!

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