Today I received an interesting letter in the mail. Actually, I received two of them. One I had to sign for, the other was a duplicate. At first, I thought it was a bill collector for some lost long bill. I cringed when I saw the big "Oregon" in the return address area on the envelope. But as I looked closer, I realized it was from the Oregon Department of Human Services. The letter started out,
The above named child(ren) are in foster care with the Department of Human Services (DHS). We understand that you may be a relative of this child/these children. When children cannot live with parents, DHS must consider placement with family members. It is our policy to ask family members whether or not they would be available as a possible temporary or permanent placement home for a relative child."
The letter continues to explain fostering and a little how it works. And then asks if I'm interested. One of the children, the one I'm related to is around 5 years old. The others age is ambiguous, all I know is he's younger than the older one but is no blood relation to myself.
My first instinct was to call my Mom. After several attempts, I finally reach her. She sounds angry. She is angry I would even consider it! (I'm sure she doesn't think that's how she came across.) She believes it is the responsibility of the father, who is a relative, and the grandparents to take care of these children. She believes the father should have first dibs on the 5 year old no matter what - he is the father after all.
I call my sister, she hems and haws with me. We have different ideals in life; she likes kids but doesn't want any, I like kids and do want some but my eggs are getting old (and possibly defective). So, we both look at this from different angles. We both agree that while this is just more family drama, maybe someone should think about the kids rather than not hurting someone's feelings. And after all, why is the father having difficulty getting custody?
I talk to Apollo who was in the foster system until he was 18. He is angry and bitter about what he calls "The System." He says the longer a kid is in The System, the harder it is to get him/her out. His experiences with all foster familys were negative; he was either abused or mistreated in each family. Since he was separated from his brother, he believes kids shouldn't be separated and should be kept together. He's also angry that nobody in his family stepped up to take him (he overheard family members talking about how they didn't want him).
This is a big decision, definitely life changing. Saying 'yes' to the letter doesn't necessarily mean anything but, it is a commitment that shouldn't be taken lightly. I don't even know how this could even work out, simply due to my living about 1200 miles away.
All my life, I've been making decisions based on my feeling like a kid still. This letter changed things. I have a lot to think about.