The phone call comes in, “Do you have enough room?”
For one more young child…. He needs a home very soon.
He comes to your door, tattered and bruised,
His clothes are all dirty, he’s wearing no shoes…
You welcome him in with a smile on your face,
He’ll have to adjust at his very own pace.
His life has been a hard, rocky road.
Somehow you must help to lighten his load.
He is going to need you to care for him now,
So deep in your heart you silently vow-
To make his life better than what he has now,
to again make him smile, though you’re wondering how.
Each new day brings anger, sadness, and joy
You pray that your love can help this young boy.
Sometimes it seems that you’re getting nowhere,
And you wonder why God said, “Send this child there”.
After an especially trying day When you’re sure
There must be An easier way
Into the room, his footsteps now come.
With a shy hug, he whispers, “I love you, Mom”
With tears in your eyes, you know just what to say,
You’ve waited and waited For this very day.
“Remember this, honey, And no matter what,
You’re special. I love you. You just hold on to that.”
And then the day comes when you answer the phone…
They’re sending “your” little boy back to his home.
You think of the work that may be undone
When they do send him back, to the very same one.
He’s much different today than he was, way back when.
Your hard work has paid off, You can see it in him.
You hope and you pray he’ll remember your love
But you can’t help but wonder, Will it be enough?
To carry him through what may lie ahead
You try to be strong To cover your dread
Your head says you must get through the good-byes
But the weight in your heart feels like part of it died.
Later, you learn he’s doing quite well.
He comes over to visit and you really can tell.
His life isn’t perfect but… it’s turning quite nice
So you have made a difference. In one little boy’s life.
Wow! Does this beautiful poem tug at your heartstrings as it does to mine? This poem is titled, “Changing One Little Life” written by Valerie Busic. It is a perfect expression of what fostering love is all about. Fostering a child is changing one little life at a time, just as the title states. If you adore this poem and would like to read through more poems about foster families, you can find more here at this link.
Missouri foster care is in great need of amazing foster parents just like the woman who wrote this beautiful poem. According to the 2018 Missouri Children’s Division annual report, there are more than 20,000 children in Missouri Children’s Division custody. In 2018 alone, there were more than 70,000 incidents of child abuse and neglect in the state of Missouri. Throughout 2018, there were exactly 7,085 children re-entering Children’s Division custody. Meanwhile, only 6,949 children exited the Children’s Division custody. These numbers conclude that there are currently more children coming into Children’s Division custody than returning to their biological parents. If you’d like to see more detailed information regarding these statistics, you can find the Missouri Department of Social Services Children’s Division Annual Report Fiscal Year 2018 here.
After knowing these statistics about Missouri children, you may understand the high importance of Missouri foster care. Foster care is a temporary living arrangement in which adults provide for the care and nurturing of a child or children whose birth parent is unable to care or provide for them.
Missouri foster care provides a way for these children to be loved, provided, and cared for during these rough times in their family life. These children need to feel secure. They need to feel loved and cared for. They need direction and guidance. All of these things can be provided to these children through Missouri foster care parents. So, how do you become a provider for Missouri foster care? First, let’s take a look at the steps to become a foster parent in this Adoption.com article, “Becoming a Foster Parent Guide“:
Step 1: Decide to become a foster parent
– Am I qualified to be a foster parent?
– Educate yourself
– Attend an orientation meeting
Step 2: Submit your application
Step 3: Complete educational classes
Step 4: Complete a home study
Step 5: Wait
Step 6: The call
Step 7: The Placement
In this foster parent guide, Rachel Skousen breaks down becoming a foster parent into seven major steps. I have listed these steps above, but the article goes into further detail and instruction for each step that is listed. She also provided additional resources for a lot of these steps to help you on your journey. So, what are the qualifications in becoming a provider for Missouri foster care? According to the Missouri Department of Social Services, some qualifications must be met before becoming a foster parent. These qualifications are listed below:
– Be at least 21 years of age
– Complete a child abuse/neglect check and criminal record check including fingerprints
– Be in good health, both physically and mentally
– Have a stable income
– Be willing to participate in and complete a free training and assessment process
– Be part of a professional team willing to voice perspectives and concerns
– Be willing to partner with the child’s family
Furthermore, anyone who is interested in providing a home for children in need of Missouri foster care should contact their local Children’s Division office for more information and specifications. The Missouri Department of Social Services provides foster parent contact information by each county in Missouri. This county contact search makes it easy for anyone to know exactly where to go to become a Missouri foster care parent. You will simply select the county that you reside in and will be given specific Children’s Division Foster Parent contact information for your county. This resource can be found here.
In Rachel’s guide to becoming a foster parent, she informs how important it is to educate ourselves about the effects of abuse and neglect and how it may impact a child’s overall development, behavior, and life skills. Sadly, abuse is the reality for many of these children needing Missouri foster care, as this was proven in the reported statistics. This resource provides an in-depth look at many special needs a child may have before or while fostering. Some examples of what these children may be experiencing and what you should educate yourself about are listed below.
- Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Activity Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Central Auditory Processing Disorder
- Cerebral Palsy
- Developmental Disability
- Down Syndrome
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
- Learning Disabilities
- Mental Retardation or Intellectual Disability
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Reactive Attachment Disorder
- Social Disorders
- Speech and Language Disorders
- Tourette Syndrome
Thankfully, these resources provide us with information regarding all of these special needs, and the Missouri foster care system may provide additional professional resources and help if needed in any of these situations. Knowing that you are not alone through your journey in Missouri foster care with allow you to help these children get through it all.
This link provides us many definitions and examples of neglect and abuse. Some of these include maltreatment, physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, abandonment, and substance abuse. Educating yourself about all of these unfortunate events and what a child may be experiencing upon enduring any of these types of abuse will help you to become a better foster parent. Additionally, this link provides information regarding the impact of childhood trauma on the overall well-being of a child. Earlier, we read that more than 70,000 cases were reviewed regarding child neglect and abuse throughout Missouri foster care. Because these numbers are so high, it is very important to stay informed of these types of scenarios and how we can help these children get through them! The more we educate ourselves about the sad experiences, the more we can grow an empathic heart to the nurturing and care that these children need.
Missouri foster care can also lead to opportunities to grow your family permanently. Missouri foster care has a primary goal of helping families stay together if possible. This means that fostering a child is usually temporary since placing children back with their biological parents is the main goal. This can occur days, months, or years after children are first introduced to the Missouri foster care system. However, there are many instances in which a child may need a permanent home. According to Adoption.com’s page on foster-adoption, foster-adoption is defined as “a child placement in which birth parents’ rights have not yet been severed by the court or in which birth parents are appealing the court’s decision but foster parents agree to adopt the child if/when parental rights are terminated. Social workers place the child with specially-trained foster-adopt parents who will work with the child during family reunification efforts but who will adopt the child if the child becomes available for adoption. The main reason for making such a placement is to spare the child another move.”
In these instances, a child may permanently stay with a foster family. Rebekah Yahoves provides us with tons of information regarding foster care adoption here. She provides many statistics surrounding foster care adoption. She discusses the many benefits of foster care adoption as well as the availability and qualifications to adopt from foster care.
Knowing adoption laws and regulations specific to the state of Missouri may also benefit your journey as a Missouri foster care provider. You never know if adopting through foster care will become a part of your reality throughout this Missouri foster care journey so it will be important to also educate yourself on the basics of Missouri adoption. It’s better to become educated now based on strengthening your overall knowledge of adoption and Missouri foster care. This Adoption.com guide will provide almost everything that is needed to know regarding adoption and Missouri foster care. This guide tells us that the adoption requirements in the state of Missouri are as follows:
“Age: 18, and while there is no maximum age limit adoption agencies want to ensure that parents have the physical and mental capabilities to raise children
“Marital Status: married or single
“Finances: stable income with the ability to meet needs of children *may vary depending on the type of adoption. Foster adoption costs are usually covered by the agency.
“Housing: own or rent a home, condo, mobile home, or apartment as long as it meets licensing standards
“Work: full-time, part-time, retired, or no employment required as long as the parents can provide for the family
“Personality: stable, nurturing, protective, basic understanding of how adoption affects children, and a strong desire to protect children
“Experience: no preference
“Other Requirements in State: Must have an approved home study and complete a criminal record background check. Must be a U.S. Citizen or able to prove lawful immigration status. Both the parents and the children must be in good health recognized by a physician.
“Disqualifying Crimes: In Missouri, crimes against children could disqualify an individual from being eligible to adopt.”
This guide will also provide you with more than thirty steps and resources involved with the Missouri adoption process. Another great resource that is available to you that may provide you with all the extra detailed information you may need is provided at the link here. In that article, you will find information regarding the qualifications, information on open adoption benefits, home studies, and more foster parent adoption information.
Missouri foster care is doing great things for children in need. The foster care system would not be successful without loving providers that can take on the task of providing for these children that need help. If your heart is telling you to be one of these providers for Missouri foster care, taking this chance may not only change the lives of many children—it will most likely drastically change your life as well for the better!
Are you ready to pursue adoption? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to connect with compassionate, nonjudgmental adoption specialists who can help you get started on the journey of a lifetime.