A trauma informed therapist says “let me tell you that some of my 2-5 year old kids who have experienced trauma have more behavioral “issues” than my teens. She shares this story –
One of my best friends is starting the process to foster. She has a 16-month old biological daughter and is due in July with her second. We were talking on the phone last night and she said her and her husband are doing an orientation and are wanting to get licensed to become foster parents. When I asked her, what ages? Without missing a beat, she said, “0-5. I know it will be harder to get kids in that age group. But kids who are older have been passed around so much and have gone through so much. I just don’t wanna deal with all that!”
When I brought up childcare (her and her husband work full time), she said that the government pays for daycare for foster kids. Babies/toddlers who are in foster care have just as much trauma as older kids. They just can’t express it. They likely have struggled to form attachments and ideally, I don’t think foster babies should just be put in daycare full time.
In looking for an image to illustrate this blog, I encountered another perspective that is in this same realm. “Fostering Offers Flexibility in Age and Gender Preference (But I Don’t Foster Babies Because They Are Cute and Easy).”
The decision to become a foster family is never easy. The idea can seem overwhelming when you hear about aspects of providing care that will be out of your control as a foster parent. However, foster parents have total control in terms of selecting what children come into our homes. Foster parents are able to choose a preferred age range, select gender preference if desired, and say “yes” or “no” to each child needing placement.
My husband and I chose to foster babies and toddlers for the life-long impact we believe we can make on these children and their families. There were other reasons as well; for example, we want to welcome children who are significantly younger than our 11-year-old biological twins. We may decide to raise our age preference for fostering as our own children continue to age, but that’s not a decision we need to make right now.
In an article related to fostering The Developing Child found at harvard.edu, “Toxic stress weakens the architecture of the developing brain, which can lead to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health.” This is the type of information that led us to foster children ages three and under, which is a critical time that we feel we can make the greatest long-term impact. (Offering full disclosure, I also want to offer my best self, which tolerates toddler tantrums much better than I handle tween tantrums.)
During our original licensing process, I sought counsel from a friend who used to work in adoption placement and currently works with traumatized children as a therapist. She helped prepare me for the atrocities I would face as a foster parent. She explained that for babies and toddlers to be identified, it takes a serious injury that requires medical attention, and hospital workers often file the report of suspected abuse or neglect for young children.