In spring of 2011, we were matched with our our first foster kids, and 12 months later we were able to adopt them. We've officially been a family since April! They are amazing, smart, happy kids. Thanks to everyone on this forum who kept me sane. Life is so good now. But even 6 months ago, I was a mess.... I wanted to share this in case anyone is in the midst of depression due to foster care and needs to know that they are not alone.
Even though our foster roller coaster was shorter and easier than what a lot of you are experiencing, I thought that the process was going to ruin me. I fell into a pretty deep depression and it took me a long time to even understand that that's what it was. I was so worried about so many things that I could not control. "I need to teach them to behave because what if they go home and are beaten for misbehaving?" "I need them to eat more because they are underweight already, and what if they go home and aren't fed for days?" And then I worried for the safety and happiness of the teen parents. I cried for them, so many nights, just thinking how unfair it is that they (the birth parents) were raised by cruddy unfair that God would allow generation after generation of kids to be abused and neglected. I cried for my kids deserving the best and getting treated like an afterthought. I feared for our safety when our private info was accidentally shared with the birth family. I lost friends who didn't understand foster care and seemed to place their kids far above mine. My relationship with my own parents was strained when they clearly weren't comfortable with us parenting kids of another race.
This journey is A LOT for anyone to deal with. In my case, I found myself withdrawing from everyone except my husband and kids. I felt like no one could relate, and I do still basically believe that was true at the time. I felt tired all of the time, but blamed it on the fact that we were now parents to a baby and toddler. I felt my usually patient personality evaporate, and I became constantly irritable. I was not me, and I finally figured out that I had depression. I was too afraid to talk about it here, in case my CW was lurking here. I was too afraid to get counseling because I didn't know if CPS would find out. I didn't know if my depression meant that we could lose our foster kids. I knew that the kids were fine in my care, and I figured that I would tough out my emotions and things would get better.
In my case, things did get better. We adopted a few months ago and I felt myself waking up from the funk. I actually had to stop coming here as much, had to stop reading books about abused and neglected kids, and had to stop receiving emails about local kiddos who need homes. I was taking the story of every kid so personally that it was unhealthy. Now with a little bit of distance from the world of foster care, I feel fine again. I hate myself for being so weak. I felt like I wanted to save every child. And now I know that the best I can do is put 100% of my energy into loving MY 2 kids like crazy. I wish I could be more of a crusader, because I feel like that's what my heart wants to do...but I am not there yet.
I wanted to share in case anyone here is in their own funk. And I also wanted to ask if anyone else has experienced this. And, for the sake of anyone who is going through this now, can foster parents get counseling without jeopardizing losing their kids? I found tons of info online about post-partum depression but nothing about foster depression. I've never experienced depression before foster care, and I have to think that I am not the first to go through this.
Anyway, things do get better and I feel so glad that this forum exists. During my depression, this was the one place in the universe where I felt like I was not alone (other than having my husband to turn to). Seriously.
Thank you to everyone for sharing everyday. And hugs to those who are having a hard time with the emotions of the journey. One thing I know for sure is that none of us can ever regret doing the right thing and loving our kids to pieces for the days that we have them. I feel silly now for all of the energy that I poured into things beyond my control. I actually laugh now when I think about how bent out of shape I'd get about what the kids were fed during visits, how hard it was to get approval for a haircut or vacation, and things like that. It all seemed SO IMPORTANT at the time. :)
Thank you for being brave enough to share here.
I can speak to the question of MH and fostering. During the homestudy you are supposed to talk about those things and my understanding is as long as you are successfully treated, its not an issue.
Thank you for posting. I myself have struggled with depression over the years, and had finally came off of medicine before deciding to foster. A few months in, I had to go back on it. My foster child is leaving on Monday, and I'm glad. I'm putting my license on hold, so I can get better. It hurts to not be able to make a child see that they are capable of being better than what they came from.
I relate to a lot of what you have posted. My difficulty has been since our adoption has been finalized. I'm over the moon happy with my kids, but I'm so sad there are so many others...I wouldn't say I'm depressed, but kinda blue.
It is so refreshing to hear someone be so incredibly real and honest with the emotions that come with Foster Parenting! While, I wouldn't say I have depression at this point, I can relate with so much of this! The fears and anxiety, the pressure to be the "perfect foster parent", feeling like no one really understands your struggles or feelings, or fully supports your choice to parent in this way... etc.
Thank you so much for being real! And I may need to bookmark this post in the event that I need an encouraging pep talk!
Thank you so much for this post. I am going through something similar. I feel very overwhelmed by foster parenting. We took in my two nieces about 8 months ago with the goal of reunification. Since then, they have changed the case to adoption. I have two of my own children 4 and 8 years old and one on the way. My nieces that we are fostering are 9 months and 2 1/2 years old.
I am feeling so guilty on so many levels. I often wish at times I never took them in and got myself into this. I know that sounds so terrible but I feel so guilty that I don't have the same amount of time to give to my two children anymore and I feel so bad that I don't love my nieces the way I love my children and that they will see that and it will hurt them in the long term. I also feel so sad that my nieces parents couldn't get their act together and have basically abandoned their two beautiful children.
I'm so tired of all the cw visits, nurse calls, law guardian visits. I'm sure being pregnant on top of this all does not help. The thought of 5 children is very overwhelming to me too. I'm hoping I look back at this situation and realize I worried for nothing.
First off, congratulations on the adoption! :happydance: I understand how you feel. The bi-polar swings this ride takes are crazy. It's good for all of us this forum is here.
I'm happy for you and your family. Raise your two beautiful kids in peace.
Thanks for such an Honest post. I don' think it is possible to do foster care or fost/adopt and not go through some level of Bi-polar....totally agree! Seriously, with having had 60 plus babies in the last seven years plus 4 adoptions. I can go from complete sadness when a special little leaves... to complete excitement the next day with a new call for placement. And then a few weeks in if I am not getting answers from CW- I find my mood changes yet again. It is no less than a constant rollarcoaster ride. I can deal for now - it is all I have known for the last 7 years....though not sure my mental health can stand another 7:prop:
Thank you so so so much. Your words most certainly could be my own. I sat boo-hoo'ing to my 20 year old earlier today about how overwhelming it all is. Yes, we push through and we do amazing things; but some days it is very challenging, not the kids, but "everything."
I have gotten therapy as a foster parent. In fact, just this morning, I set myself up another appointment.
But I most certainly have felt the need to not state things, ask things, etc to my agency, on here, etc. I'm trying to get over that. I really don't think they will close my home for being honest, seeking help, using support. OF course, the difference is that I don't currently have an adoptive placement. I most certainly tried to be more careful when I did.
Mmmmm....I hear that! Wow, thank you for sharing. We are in a tough place right now because we took on another placement...and I think I was largely motivated by feeling like I should be able to "do more" we have had to make the painful decision to move the child to a home that can better meet his needs and focus on our two kids and their therapies, etc. I still wish I could make it be different...I really wanted a "large family"...but, that just isn't going to be the reality...and in the end, it's better. I will be a better mom if I stay within my limits and love on the two we have with all I have!
Thanks again for sharing!
I can't relate to the depression but I can relate to the fear of my CW or someone I know reading my posts. This is the ONLY place i can truley express my feelings when I'm having stressful days. There have been times I have deleted posts b/c it was so identifying. I dare not complain/vent in real life where everyone thinks I'm superwoman. I also can't watch the news when it's about a child being mistreated or abused. I always turn the channel.
Thank you for your honesty. It is nice to know we aren't alone. The days when it feels like a wet blanket over my life are the hardest. Today was a good day.
I love my life, and this is apart of me being human.May you have a better day...
I would think most of us suffer some sort of adjustment disorder, albeit hopefully temporary!
I wanted to chime in especially to say that all the workers I've spoken to have given me the clear impression that having a problem is not a problem as long as you can show you are going about solving it in an efficient and responsible manner. I mean, look at it this way: who would you find better equipped to advocate for a child who needs services? The lady who has never ever hit a speed bump in her rosy life, or the one who has experience successfully seeking services for herself? I would go so far too say that any worker in their right mind should see successful management of depression as a strength. That's not to say that all workers are in their right mind...