Why We Said No

On Thursday, we were supposed to do a simple meet-and-greet with the placement team at our foster care agency and fill out some paperwork.  (How can any visit be complete without paperwork? :p)

But… one of the placement team members got a call in the middle of a night about an emergency move for two kiddos and began pitching those kids to us impromptu.

We said no.  And it was really, really hard to say no.  It’s tearing me up.

So, why did we think we weren’t a good fit?  Reasons in no particular order:

1)  Age.  One of the kids was four years older than our top age range.  I like teenagers, but we don’t want to add children who are older than our existing kids.  Our daughter very specifically has said she wants to be older.

2)  Language.  The kids don’t speak any English.  We only speak the tiniest amount of Spanish.  So, there would be communication issues until we learned each other’s languages better.

3) Medical Needs.  The younger child has significant medical needs.  He is in elementary school and is learning to walk.  It sounded like there would be a lot of doctor appointments, PT, OT, special ed, and therapy appointments.

4)  Adoption Wildcard.  It’s unclear whether the younger child would ever live independently.  While adulthood is more than 10 years away, we want to make decisions about foster placements as if that child would be with us forever.  Why?  Imagine that the kiddo is placed with us, lives with us for several years, parental rights are terminated and the kiddo becomes available for adoption.  If we didn’t say yes to adopting that kiddo if offered the opportunity, the child would feel rejected.  We don’t want to traumatize a child who has already been hurt.  So we want to decide now if we’d adopt the child.  And committing to be a parent to a child who will never live independently is a bigger step than we are currently willing to make.

Have you ever said no to a placement?  Does it ever get easier to turn people down?

8 thoughts on “Why We Said No

  1. If it’s not the right fit then you did the right thing to say no. You might feel bad about saying no but there is somebody out there who may be a better fit for those kids. When I think of kids we had to say no to I send good thoughts their way and hope it has all worked out for the best for them. Emergency placement is tough. It seems like they just call down the list and ask everyone until someone says yes. You always have to do what’s right for you and your family so that you can be the best family for the kids that get placed with you.

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  2. Turning down a referral can be a painful and heartbreaking decision, but it is important to know your limitations and it is wise to stick with them. Each family has their own set of dynamics which dictate whether or not they will be a good fit for a particular child or sibling group. Keep trusting…the right opportunity will come along and your family will be blessed! We hope that another referral comes soon and that it will be a good fit for both your family and the child.

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  3. Hey! I wa reading a few of your posts and I have to know what city you live in? Everything seems so organized and calm paced where you are. Here in phx Az it’s like millions of kids in need and sleeping in CPS offices. Foster parents not really having choices . We get calls If we have an open bed and they will be at our house in an hour to drop off this child needing a home asap. It’s crazy!

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    1. We live in Virginia. I have been super impressed with the way the county foster care operates thus far. Not everything is perfect. For example, it took the supervisor four months to sign off on the home study. Not because there was anything wrong with the home study, but because her workload was way backed up. I don’t know what it is like in Arizona, but I’m hoping they don’t pressure you into taking children you do not feel are good fits for your particular circumstances. In PRIDE training, the trainers talked about how to deal with the pressure of when a placement worker calls desperate for a home for a kid. We discussed how emotional it would be. We discussed how hard it would be to think rationally, how we’d hear the urgency in the placement worker’s voice. But ultimately the decision was up to us. And it would be best for the children, for us, and the agency if we made the right decision up front rather than try to force a fit. That can lead to poor parenting, more services required from the agency, more stress on the children, and possibly a disrupted placement.

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  4. You definitely did the right thing. About two years ago, a social worker called and begged us to provide a week of respite for an 11 month old. We’d already made it clear that we were not equipped (mentally or house-wise) for an infant and that we never planned to take one. However, she said we were the last resort, so we caved. I won’t bore you with the long story, but the foster parents dropped her off with Saturday night with a double ear infection (the mom had several grown children–there’s no way she missed the signs), the doctor on call didn’t return my calls over the weekend, and the poor kid screamed for three days, even after a doc appt on Monday. I had to keep her in a car seat on my bed and rock her all night; if I stopped, she started screaming. By Wednesday,she’d calmed some; she let me hold her but screamed if the kids or Hubby approached her. When I found our son sitting cross-legged in the hall, rocking, with his hands over his ears, I called the social worker and they found another placement on Thursday. Longest five days of my life. The kids still talk about “that baby” and made us promise to never do that again.

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