Fostering A Pregnant Teen

The girl in the photo is NOT known to me or who this blog is about today. It comes up from time to time how much a teen in foster care who finds herself pregnant can use support. The main thought is enough support to break the cycle she grew up within and parent her baby.

The discussion was in response to a video about someone who was doing that – creating a supportive environment for a pregnant teen still in foster care. I won’t be sharing that video here but the thoughts related to it.

The first comment was related to food – both foster kids and adoptees often have food issues. My adoptee mom had food issues and she passed those on to me. My dad (also an adoptee) had food insecurity issues, so we always had more food on the table than could be eaten at a meal. At 67 years old, I’m still trying to overcome my own food issues. That said, I remember being ravenous and able to eat stuff I wouldn’t dare to eat now, while I was pregnant with my sons.

Here is the comment – What bothered me was the amount of junk food offered as items of comfort. I have food issues and am working to reprogram my brain from emotional eating and using food to soothe emotional needs. While I understand she mostly has teenage girls placed with her, and teenagers generally prefer these kinds of snacks, I just don’t think think this is ok. Give them other outlets for comfort. But again, I’m an adoptee working on my own food issues; I understand and appreciate that this is a different situation than what I experienced.

A comment in response was this – I didn’t love the way she was like “of course I have healthier food but this is like a piece of home.” It rubbed me wrong. Like we’re better than this but you know how poor people eat.” However, someone else noted – “I am mixed about this. Honestly, it seems better than the crazy perspective of many foster parents that repress foster children’s food intake and then post complaints about how much they eat. Food security is important.”

Another issue had to do with TV. I do like the part about suggesting a TV in their room. I see a lot of foster parents angry about screen time and cracking down with their rules, especially if they also have biological children. If a kid is used to sleeping on a floor in front of a TV, you can’t just say “oh we don’t do TV at night here!” and expect them to sleep. Sure, you can phase it out over time if it matters that much to you, but foster parents need to calm down when a kid is going through serious trauma. The teen may just need to be comforted to sleep!

Actually, when I was single and living in the city, until I met my husband (who lives in a very quiet rural location), the white noise of the TV was always on in my home – waking or sleeping – but I was not usually actually watching it. When I was in New Mexico settling my parents estate – it was the same – always on in the motel room.

There were also a few appreciative comments too. “It seems like a foster home I would’ve been thankful for but it’s still a foster home. What I don’t like is how she goes about posting it. It seems like she is looking for praise from former foster care youth.” And this, “I wish one of my foster parents was as welcoming as this?” And another one – “I think it’s absolutely wonderful, she’s doing everything in her power to make them feel as comfy as possible.”

I think a realistic comment was this one – my first thought on it is, she goes to great lengths to “get to know them.” I’m pretty cool with most of this, but the part where she wants to spend time with them to get to know them sits strange with me. Putting myself in their shoes, I’d think that I wouldn’t want to talk to some stranger about *anything* and I’d just want to be left alone to deal with whatever feelings I was having, instead of having to bear all to her. That might just be me, because I’m a quiet, lonely griever, but I can’t imagine that every child she brings into her home feels comfortable with the “getting to know one another” part.

Yet that was just one perspective. It seems that the woman in the video is an emergency or short term placement foster home. In some of the other videos she has made, it seems more like the teen can play games and watch movies and not so much getting to know each other. That makes more sense. There are other videos by her, where she talks about letting them do whatever they want to do, so that they can process their situation.

Yet another one said – I don’t like to be around anyone or talk to anyone while I’m going through things. I also like to cry quietly in my room and not talk to people. I’m kind of antisocial to begin with. I am pulled in different directions though, because if left alone too long, especially as a teen, I would let myself feel bad and dissociate as long as I could get away with. I feel like she should leave them to grieve and process (with therapy, of course) and maybe after some time passed, then make an effort to take them out and get to know them? Just let them grieve their situation first and give them some space.

Given my own maternal grandmother’s experience of pregnancy with my mom, this one really spoke to my heart.

My mom was shunned back in the 60’s for being an unwed Mom. She was basically kicked out of town and told not to come back with the ‘bastard’ (me). She was very kindly taken in by a Home for Unwed Mothers. She was able to continue working, given counseling and advice on adoption etc. Long story short, that home was my first home. You could stay for 6 months after birth. All Moms helped and supported each other when moms had to go back to work. Essentially first time Moms were getting some hands on experience and moms and babies were safe, happy and content. Today I run a place of safety for abandoned babies and often think if there were still places like that, perhaps we wouldn’t have such a high rate of abortion and abandonments.

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