Just because someone is a foster mom, that doesn’t automatically mean they are a good mom.

Just because someone has the heart and desire to care for children who aren’t their own biologically doesn’t mean they don’t face the same issues as we do. By canonizing them we take away their right as parents to complain, to worry, to bitch, to vent and to voice the concerns that so many of us only caring for our own children are allowed to do. Foster moms aren’t saints. The majority of them are just people who want to help a child in need. We can in turn help those parents by treating them just like normal parents.

There are so many wonderful, generous, loving foster parents in the world. People who take “unwanted” children into their home and care for them with as much love and thoughtfulness as any biological “good” parent would. I admire these good foster parents greatly. It must be hard opening your heart and home to a child knowing that one day, long before they are an adult, they may leave you. I would love to one day become a foster parent myself, when I have the extra time, money and space to devote to a child. It’s a huge commitment, especially considering the majority of children placed in foster care come from abusive or neglectful backgrounds.

From Children’s Rights.org:

You hear statements all the time made towards foster moms, that they are “saints” or “angels” simply because they are foster moms. Statements like these are unfair to the children in foster care. The assumption being that because they have been abused in their “birth” homes that only an angelic, extremely wonderful person could ever love and care for them. That because they have been the victims of past abuse, only someone wonderful is capable of taking them in. It puts the blame on the child, that even though they are “damaged”  by physical, emotional, or developmental problems that they are “lucky” to have a foster parent. And by making the blanket statement that foster moms are “saints” we are also insulting the foster parent, because as anyone who works in social services can tell you, or simply by reading the newspaper, we all see that not every foster mom is created equal. Even though I have respect and admiration for foster parents, it’s wrong to say that just because someone fosters a child they are a “good ” parent. Especially when you consider how many children are physically, sexually and emotionally abused while in foster care.

One of the most disturbing finds in why certain parents become foster parents is because of  financial gain. From Firststar.org:

 it can not be denied that financial gain is among a number of significant incentives leading some to become foster parents.

Judge Judy Sheindlin, supervising judge for the Manhattan Family Court, describes the foster parent typically found today in the New York City foster care system:

The typical foster parent I see is a single woman who has several biological children of her own. She is supported by welfare or social security disability. She is a high school dropout whose own kids are marginally functioning. She does not have the ability to help them with their schoolwork, and she has little hope for a brighter economic or social future.

I personally find this statement hard to believe because foster parents receive little financial compensation for caring for a child, but I suppose that in does happen in some cases. Even more alarming than the idea that someone would chose to foster a child for financial gain, is the thought someone would do it to have access to a child for sexual reasons, but there are many documented cases of this. From the Register Guard:

Kirk Garrison Sr., a 48-year-old Waldport man to whose home the state sent more than 100 foster children between 1996 and 2006, was sentenced this summer to 44½ years in state prison.

A Lincoln County jury convicted Garrison of repeatedly raping, sodomizing and sexually abusing two of his adopted foster children — a developmentally disabled daughter and a son — and sexually abusing two of his other foster children.

Garrison told that he got the children to have sex with him by putting “the fear of God in ’em. Give ’em a look. Tell them they’d go to a worse place (to live).” He also mentioned touching children on the school bus, that he “played” with the younger foster children in his home and that he made his adopted daughter and son have sex with each other so he could watch.

And from Newsitem.com:

The two victims, a five-year-old male and a seven-year-old female, were removed from Mengine’s home in January after they, and three other children, were sexually assaulted multiple times by a 13-year-old foster brother at the home between June and September. After being taken into protective custody, the boy and girl reported to authorities about being physically and sexually abused by Mengine, as well.

According to a release, Mengine allegedly assaulted them with a tennis racket. One of the children told authorities that the foster mother held their head in a bucket of water, preventing them from breathing, and also sexually assaulted them.

So no, just because a person is a foster parent that doesn’t automatically make them a saint. There are both terrible and wonderful foster parents in the world, just as their are terrible and wonderful parents. By refusing to question the child welfare system and foster parents about their role in caring for these children, we are not only doing a disservice to the children but to the foster parents as well.

The majority of foster parents don’t consider themselves beyond reproach. They have just as many parenting worries and concerns as other parents, even more so because the kids they are parenting often come from abusive or horrific households. A lot of these parents do an amazing job, but by treating them as if they are saints we are in turn slighting them as parents.

Just because you didn’t birth the child you are raising doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be subjected to the same praise, criticisms, debates, fears, bragging and opinions that all parents experience every single day. Foster parents may have a more difficult time that a lot of us do on occasion, but at the end of the day, the majority of us all want the same thing. To know we are raising good kids who will one day be good grownups.

(photo:  Kati Neudert/shutterstock)