Archive for January, 2012

“FOR RENT” foster kids

This morning i woke up and was really bummed.  I was crying throughout the night and i felt the hangover and exhaustion of having no more tears.  I felt the need to hang out with Moonlight today.  So i looked around and managed to scratch together $4.53, which i put into my pocket.  I grabbed a blanket, Moonlight’s carrot squeaky toy and put them in a backpack; put on two sweatshirts, grabbed my jacket and headed out the door with Moonlight.  Then me and Moonlight headed to the park.

As we walked to the park, i passed several “FOR RENT” signs at which time i realized that “FOR RENT”  is perfect to describe kids in foster care.

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“FOR RENT” means you pay to stay

“FOR RENT” means something that is used temporarily

“FOR RENT” means its not yours, it belongs to someone else


“FOR RENT” = PAY TO STAY

Foster kids come with a check.  The state pays the foster parents for the kids to stay, just like in a rental situation, where you pay a landlord to stay in their place.   The money is supposed to be used for the child; for food, clothing, things that the child needs.  But, just like crappy landlords, who take your money and never use it to improve or fix your apartment…. there are crappy foster parents who never use the money for the child or who only use part of it for the child.   Just like bad landlords who make money by never fixing anything, there are bad foster parents who make money off foster kids, by packing their home with as many kids as possible and not using the money for the children, but using it for themselves.  It happens.  Many foster parents don’t make money; and the good ones probably spend money…..but the reality is the kids “pay to stay.”

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“FOR RENT” =  TEMPORARY

Many time foster parents want to adopt.  They are looking to give a “forever home” to some lucky child.  Sometimes parents “try out a child” before making the permanent commitment.  Sometimes they “rent” before they “buy.”  When I was in foster care, sometimes I was “rented” for a short time, like a couple weeks or a couple months….and sometimes I was “rented” for a long time….lots of months or a couple years.  Maybe I was being tried out, maybe I was always temporary.  But none of it was EVER permanent.  It was always a temporary place and a temporary situation.

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“FOR RENT” = NOT REALLY YOURS

My life is made up of places and families that were never really mine.  Something that is “FOR RENT” is never yours, it always belongs to someone else.  You can never do what you completely want to or feel 100% secure  or free in something that is “FOR RENT” because it is not yours.  Growing up in foster care, it was never my bedroom or my house or my yard.  It was never my special chair or my swingset or my tree.  NEVER my mom or my dad or my sister or grandma.   Nothing was ever really mine.  A rental is never yours either.

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These days, when you see “FOR RENT” signs, there are usually statements like “2 bedrooms,” “updated bath,” “big kitchen” on the sign– so what did my sign say?

Sometimes it must have said “problem, falling apart” and sometimes it must have said “good fuck” and sometimes it must have said “special needs” and sometimes it must have said “good slave potential” and sometimes it said “what the hell do we do with this..any takers?”

In the beginning I bet my sign said “small, but cute, needs work, potential is great!”  Maybe it was even a “For Sale” sign, hoping some family would “buy me!”

But, later, as I grew old in foster care, I bet my sign said “old, high needs, in major disrepair”... The reality is that few people would want to rent or buy something like that.

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When I got to the park with Moonlight,  I sat in the grass and thought about being “FOR RENT” for so long.  I often wonder if anyone ever wanted to take a chance on “buying me” and making me permanent.  I never got that feeling.  Maybe the messages on my “FOR RENT” signs were so overwhelming that they scared everyone away…. can a traumatized, scared blond kid be that frightening?  Or maybe the workers just stopped putting any signs out about me — never a “RENT TO OWN,” never a “DRASTICALLY REDUCED – FOR SALE” sign.  Maybe they just gave up…

…but for me, years of being rented, never gave me any permanency.

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January 27, 2012 at 1:53 am 26 comments

Foster Parents… Don’t Forget Finance 101

All this recent stress about money got me thinking.  My knowledge and skills regarding money, credit, bills, taxes, spending, bank accounts, …. SUCK…. and this is a failure of the foster care system.  I aged-out of foster care at 18,  in high-school, and not in an ILP.

Before you tell me “all foster kids are required to take life skills” — I say bullshit and READ THIS from 2010.  This is one state, but 67% of the oldest foster children HAD NOT completed a Life Skills course that would help them to live independently and qualify for financial assistance.  The majority of youth said they had never completed a life-skills program, which provides instruction in financial management, cooking, housekeeping and other living skills.  Representatives of NJ stated that there were not enough programs…”

Well that is just fabulous…. don’t you think?   Kick kids out with no home, no jobs, and no skills.  Guess what happens to them?

As this non-profit leader says HERE:  “We go from ‘you’re in foster care, where you may handle $10 a month’ to ‘you’re responsible for everything’”

I am not going to spend the rest of this blog giving you statistics… you can find them yourself on the web.  I am going to spend the rest of this blog giving you ideas how to help and examples from my life.

The system can’t seem to get it right, so foster parents, IT IS UP TO YOU!

Finance 101 – Things to focus on with foster children…

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January 22, 2012 at 3:01 am 30 comments

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