September 10, 2019 at 6:42 pm #96804
Hi, Katy. Okay, in reply to each of your points:
- Yes, it’s crazy I know. I wanted it to be an almost unbelievable number. If you think it’s absolutely impossible, what number would you suggest? I want it to be larger than normal, but still within the realms of possibility.
- Did I actually say she was albino? I didn’t mean to. I’ll have to go back and change that.
- Okay, I’d love to see that too. But, I have little to no actual experience with the system so any information you share would be amazing.
- I did write a bit of a short-story that was a back story, I always forget that anyone reading the actual story hasn’t read it. I’ll work on that. I didn’t want her to be like almost every other foster kid I’ve read about in books, but this is my first big thing, and I kind of over did it. I’ll work on writing that in.
- Thanks, I like him too. He’s actually based off of my best friend’s dad.
Don’t feel the need to respond right away. I’m patient.
How we chose to fight is just as important as what we fight forSeptember 10, 2019 at 10:00 pm #96822
Sorry, I’m really gonna delve deep right now. I’ve only read part of the first page. 🙁September 10, 2019 at 10:00 pm #96823
To edit, do you want me to go into the editing mode on the document?September 11, 2019 at 10:52 am #96846
Okay, so about the number. It would greatly depend on why she has not been adopted by now. I mean, seriously, a newborn baby gets snapped up very quickly, especially if there are no parents to cause trouble. I’d say it would take about 9 months tops to both find an adoption family and complete the adoption unless there was something else going on. We had our 4 day old baby, who was also an abortion survivor, for 2 weeks before family got her. Now, that’s family, and that means half the battle is won for them already, but even non-family adoptions don’t last terribly long unless, like I said, there are complications. And you gave us no real complications.
Some complications would be a genetic disorder, physical disorder, and family barriers. Genetic disorders might be something like autism, down syndrome, etc., physical disorders might be missing limbs, brain damage, alcohol fetal syndrome, etc., and family barriers might be a mom who doesn’t want to give up her baby, but due to previous behavior, it was taken from her at the hospital, and she goes around making a big stink about it. (The latter usually happens only if the baby is born while the mom is under investigation for previous child abuse or neglect.) A little girl with nothing wrong with her is not likely going to simply slip through the system like this.
Even if she is one of the rare cases that do happen to slip through, I want to know why. Why didn’t her social worker work to get her in a good, adoption home as quickly as possible? Was it negligence, not enough families, ineptness, etc.?
So, as an example, one of the children in our home who had been to 11 different foster homes in the span of four years had severe allergies, and could basically only eat chicken and rice, and things made from them. No dairy, nuts, eggs, gluten, pork, beef, or corn. (That included corn syrup, which is in almost everything.) He also was labeled a trouble maker with ADHD. He did have trouble in school, but mostly because he had such a strict diet and he saw all the other kids eating fun things like mac and cheese, hot dogs, etc. and he couldn’t. Some of the kids made fun of him. And so he would fight with them and get suspended. My family loved all our foster kids, and my mom made a point of trying to understand every single one. She never gave up on them just because it was hard. But most of the other homes just accepted the report that he caused trouble and didn’t take the time or effort to make good meals without the ingredients he couldn’t have, and so yeah he lashed out and rebelled.
The other boy who had been in 12 foster homes had autism, and threw down china cabinets…still full of china…because someone wouldn’t give him pizza. Yeah, we learned not to say pizza unless we were prepared to give it to him.
Now, we did have a “normal” set of kids, age 9 and 1/2 months and 2 years, brother and sister, who (hopefully) only had 2 foster homes before they were adopted. (I say hopefully because they were taken away from us because of my parents’ faith and we weren’t allowed to even know what happened to them.) Another child I know who was taken from the hospital and only stayed in 1 foster home before being adopted (after 4 years). Complications with the mom who scared everyone by suing people was the reason why it took so long.
So, 41 is really drastic for a “normal” girl who has just been in the system for a long time.
For Jane, age 13, and assuming her to be “normal”, I would venture a high, plausible number would be about 20.
I like how you have portrayed Shannon and Daniel as “good” foster parents, and also have some “mediocre” parents who just couldn’t do it because of finances, and then “abusive” parents as well. That’s all good. But please don’t make it seem like it takes 40 foster homes before you find one good one. Surely there would have been several more who would have tried to keep Jane for much longer than only a few weeks.
On average (besides the newborn who only stayed 2 weeks because we were really just a stop-gap until her aunt could finish her home study) children stayed in our home for 10 months — they ranged from 1 month to almost 3 years. The 1 month one left because he was completely refusing to comply, and cursed my mom in the most obscene language I had ever heard, and my dad said he had to go. His brother (The one with ADHD and dietary restrictions) stayed with us for 4 months and only left because someone tried to break into our house, and we highly suspect some of his family members. The autistic boy stayed 7 months and only left because my mom was exhausted, having gotten at least one concussion, and his mom was sabotaging all our efforts to help him. The two children who stayed almost 3 years left because they were taken from us, because of my parents’ faith, but the reason they cited was that my mom washed them in the shower without a washcloth — they called it sexual abuse. So, in a good home, Jane could have stayed for months, and possibly years. If there’s no apparent reason for her to leave, why would they have let her go? It’s easier to keep a child you’ve gotten to know than to give that child up and get completely new children.
(Sorry, I got to rambling and couldn’t stop.)
Details in the Foster Care System The Outsiders Might Not Know About:
1. White cars. All social workers seem to drive white sedans. All of them. Seriously, you go to social services office, and you see white cars lined up, sometimes with stickers with numbers on the windshield, and orange permanent license plates.
2. Briefcases. Social workers carry briefcases, sometimes with those hard case clipboards inside them for when they come to home visits. The note down everything. They note how the different members of the family interact with the foster child, what the foster child says, what the house looks like, whether there’s enough food in the pantries, how excited/scared/nervous/etc. the child looks, etc. It’s kind of scary from the foster parent perspective.
3. Home visits are sometimes unscheduled. Social workers will pop up at your door for a home visit. Usually, when they do this, they are a bit more understanding of a messy house, but they still make note of it.
4. Foster care has agencies. What I mean by this is that they will “give” their cases to an independent agency, who have their own foster parents, and the agency will assign a foster home to a child. The foster parents usually get paid more, and they have their own agency worker who speaks for them, but they also have twice the accountability, for there are now 2 social workers who have to come for monthly home visits.
5. Fire drills. Every month, foster homes are required to have a fire drill. This would be a cool addition to a story that I never see. You could have so much fun exposing certain fears or mindsets with the children and parents. Ex. My mom loved to make a game out of fire drills, to try to make it not so scary. Some of our kids would respond to the game and laugh as we ran outside, collecting our shoes and respective kids ( my brother and I each had a child we had to make sure got outside) but other children would cry and cover their ears and have to be carried out the door into the grass by the mailbox.
6. Calling foster parents Mommy and Daddy. This might not be relevant in your story, since Shannon and Daniel don’t seem to have any children of their own, but if there is a natural child (as in, not foster) and they are naturally calling the foster parents “Mommy” and “Daddy”, younger children (even as old as ten or eleven) will sometimes start calling the foster parents that too, without any encouragement to do so. It just becomes natural, since the other kids are doing it.
7. You don’t know much about the kids before they arrive. Seriously, we wouldn’t even know the children’s names before they showed up at our door and told us themselves. Here’s what happened to us: we’d get a call, and our social worker (we were a part of an agency. See note 4.) would tell us how many kids, what ages, what genders, and maybe why they were removed. ( My mom wanted to know why because it affected what kind of preparation mentally she needed to have.) Then they would hang up after telling us about what time they would show up. A few hours later, a white car would pull up, and out would pop the kids. Then we would learn their names, birthdays, etc. But not before. Social workers do not usually talk and give a lot of superfluous details to experienced foster parents beforehand. (So in your story, Jane might not need to feel like she doesn’t need to say her name.)
8. Guardian ad Litems. These are people completely independent from social services, the child’s family, and anyone else ( a stranger to everyone involved in the case) who only speaks for the kids. They don’t care about what the foster parents, social worker(s), and bio-parents want — they want what’s best for the kids. Most children only have one, and that Guardian sticks with them even when they move to another foster home. (As do the children’s social worker who speaks for DSS, now that I think about it.) They don’t have to have legal experience. It’s their job to listen to the children and speak for them in court since the children probably wouldn’t be going to court themselves. Some of them can be so experienced being a Guardian that they can be even better than an attorney speaking for the kids. They get to know the court and how things work, they learn how to gather their own evidence, and they can get really fierce when it looks like people are not doing what’s best for “their” kids. They will also come for regular (not always monthly) visits to the foster home to check on the kids as well.
So, those are a few more notes and details. Let me know if you want anything more.
I’ve wanted to write a story about foster care myself, but I’ve found that I get too tense and upset whenever I try. Maybe you can guess why. But I started feeling that way again just by writing these things down. That being said, I’d be happy to give any further intel, but I might not give it in large chunks like this anymore.
The stories need to be told.
Marvel at His ProvidenceSeptember 12, 2019 at 10:55 am #96931
Um, what does that do? I’m new to using google docs.
How we chose to fight is just as important as what we fight forSeptember 12, 2019 at 11:07 am #96932
Okay, I will try to work with that number. It actually fits perfectly with what was going on in my head so that’s great.
As for why she hasn’t been adopted, I don’t know. Is there anything I could add to her character that would explain that without changing her drastically? Let me word that better. Is there a reason for a kid to go through that many homes other than severe: illness, mental/emotional disorders, or behavioral issues? Cause, there’s no way for the parents to be involved.
I’ve got a rough idea of why she wasn’t adopted as a baby, I’ll polish it and get it in as soon as possible.
Thank you so much for all the insider info. I cannot express how useful this is. I’ve just got a few questions about the last one.
Guardian ad Litems. Are they randomly assigned children, or how does that work. Could a pastor be one? or would they have to be religiously neutral?
Thank you so much, again.
How we chose to fight is just as important as what we fight forSeptember 12, 2019 at 9:22 pm #96985
Technically, the parents can be involved if the problem involves genetics. For instance, if the mom was alcoholic or violent, people might assume that Jane will be too when she gets older, but the likelihood of the foster family actually knowing that is slim, so yeah, they don’t really affect much.
As for a non severe reason for slipping through the system so much, I have no idea. Honestly, if there are no parents in the way, and no family, then DSS’s goal is going to be to get her adopted.
Now, I just had a thought, and you can take it or leave it, as it might not fit into what you want with your story, but what if Jane had been adopted, and then a few months later, when they thought things had settled down and they weren’t being watched as closely, issues arose, and she was taken out of that home and put back into foster care. Then future foster families might wonder what was wrong with Jane to have to be put back into foster care. It’s a bit far fetched, but that’s the only thing I could think of that a “normal” kid might not be able to be adopted. Kind of like returned goods at a store.
I’d love to hear why she wasn’t adopted as a baby, as well as her backstory on her faith and mindset because those are the real big kickers for me. Those are the questions that made me scoff a little and mark it down as unrealistic and merely a feel-good story. So, I feel like those questions have to be answered satisfactorily. (That being said, I still greatly enjoyed the story, and I stayed up late at night to finish it, which is something I haven’t done to a book in a couple of years now, so don’t feel like it’s terrible and a waste of time — it’s not. It just needs a lot of work.
Guardian ad Litems: They are volunteers, and yes, I suppose they’re chosen at random. As far as I know, religious beliefs are not really factored in, so yeah, I guess a pastor could be one, as long as he meets the criteria. NOTE: Guardians are not for all foster care cases. They are for termination of parental rights cases and other child abuse cases, so Jane probably won’t have one. Basically, they are the representation of the child in court and do investigation in criminal matters. If Jane would not be going to court (there have been no criminal actions) then she wouldn’t need a voice in court.
Disclaimer: Please do your research for fostering in the state where your story is because laws can vary somewhat from state to state. For instance, while fire drills were required every month in my state, it is sometimes only required every quarter in others, or sometimes every week or every other week. (I guess depending on the likelihood of fires in the area.) So, research those things. My details were more as a handle on something to research because we all know it’s hard to research something when you don’t know where to start. Like, you might not have come up with the Guardians if you had just researched “foster care”.
Glad I could help! I like spreading awareness about fostering, because, to be honest, it’s kind of a secretive business. Sometimes it feels like we’re secret agents. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that most people just don’t talk about.
Let me know if there are any other questions you have, and I’ll be glad to answer them.
Marvel at His ProvidenceSeptember 13, 2019 at 4:57 pm #97019
Thanks again for everything, I have almost everything I need to get back to wrestling with my story. *sighs* one more thing.
With the idea of Jane having once been adopted, what are some reasons it would fall through. I mean, I can think of some reasons like, everyone dies. But that’s drastic, cliche, and obvious. So, any ideas?
How we chose to fight is just as important as what we fight forSeptember 13, 2019 at 10:39 pm #97040
In answer to your question, there is the ability of sinful human nature to hide for a time, and then when it thinks the coast is clear, reveals itself.
What I mean by this is, the family that adopts Jane might seem like a nice family, but after the adoption is complete, the accountability is gone and things can get ugly. This might mean neglect, abuse, and even sexual abuse (which is ugly to think about, but sadly, it’s almost assumed to be true of children who go into foster care that they have been physically and/or sexually abused at least once by someone close to them. Girls are particularly more at risk, and it doesn’t really matter what age. Our 2 year old girl had been sexually abused before she came to us.) Adoptive parents are also able to do these repulsive things once the accountability is greatly lessened.
Now, the adoptive parents might not be monsters whose only purpose in adopting Jane was to neglect, abuse, or sexually use her. They might have honestly cared about her, gotten swept up in the charitable thing they were doing, had honestly good intentions, and then once the newness wore off and the humdrummery of life started again, the good intentions faded away, and she began to get neglected and/or abused. (I personally would not make them sexually abuse Jane mainly because there is A LOT of emotional and mental trust and physical issues that come afterward, and while it might be interesting to see how her faith helps her, I don’t think it’s worth opening that can of worms, particularly since you are so young. I’m 21, and I wish I didn’t know anything about that world. And, physical abuse has plenty of trauma of its own.)
Physical abuse could start a variety of ways. Maybe it hadn’t hit them yet that some of their treasured dreams were no longer a possibility because they had to save for her college, or the retreat they wanted to go to the following summer didn’t allow kids, or something like that. Resentment might build up, and they might start off by withholding things they know she wants but she hasn’t asked for, then maybe things she she did ask for, then maybe there would be harsh looks, then words, then maybe a little slap or two, and then maybe it progresses to kicking and beating.
Neglect could stem from the parents being overwhelmed with the new responsibility. Maybe grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends were excited at first, and very supportive, but now that the excitement is over, they don’t help out as much as they used to, and the parents were counting on them for the long term. This could result in neglect emotionally and physically. (It could also spark resentment, which might lead to abuse.)
The family dying didn’t actually cross my mind at all when I mentioned the adoption falling through.
I hope that was helpful. I hope you get your book’s plot and stuff straightened out, and I would love to read it again once you’ve finished it!
Marvel at His ProvidenceSeptember 14, 2019 at 3:21 pm #97077
How we chose to fight is just as important as what we fight forSeptember 14, 2019 at 5:06 pm #97090Alabama Rose@bama-rose
I read it! FINALLY. I’m sorry it took me so long.
Great job. It’s a very interesting story, and unique from most foster stories. I like how she’s Christian. I think that’s super unique and a neat perspective.
My family has been fostering for years, so I know quite a bit about some of this. However, my knowledge is completely different from @katy-walker’s. I read her notes and its really interesting, but it was kind of weird, too, because I realize how strange our foster system is. Let me explain. We foster children that come off the Native American reserves. Our foster care system DOES NOT allow ANY adoptions whatsoever. One boy is staying with us – eight years old – who’s been back and forth in care his whole life. And all his siblings. So this entire family (he has older siblings, so the family has been going through this for around fifteen years) has been bouncing back and forth. None of the siblings are in the same home. Sometimes the parents will start doing better so the agency gives them a second (which then turns into third, fourth, fifth etc.) chance. The kids go home, stay for a bit, then everything goes bad again and the kids again go into care. So this poor guy will probably be in the foster system until he turns sixteen, then he pretty much can do what he wants. Its so hard for us to watch because we just want to adopt them all, but we can’t and probably never will be able to.
Anyway, here are some of my general thoughts.
1. It was great and cool to see how her faith helps her, but I agree with Katy Walker that she doesn’t seem to be traumatized or affected AT ALL.
2. I was kind of surprised when Jane fell in love with the horses because I expected she would’ve thought that cliche. Just because all so often there are books and movies about a distraught girl coming to live with someone she doesn’t want to, then finds out they have horses and is totally changed by the horse and wala! The girl loves her life with her horse. Now, I’m not saying what you are doing here with Dreamer is completely cliche or bad. In fact, its so relatable that she finds freedom and joy in the horse. I’d just say be careful not to base her character development too much around the horse. But I do love Dreamer. Horses are amazing. 😍
3. I love Danica. She’s relatable and awesome.
4. You have a very strong and defined voice in your story, and I love that. Great job.
So yeah! That’s all I can think of right now. 🙂 You are doing great. Can’t wait to read the rest. 🙂
Courage, dear heart ~ AslanSeptember 14, 2019 at 6:35 pm #97097
I’m not all there tech-wise when it comes to foster care so I probably won’t be looking at it from that perspective. One story though: My grandparents used to do it and my grandma eventually had to always check for lice when a new kid came in. The thing is that she used -I think- dish soap, which was against the standards then. Again, I’m not entirely sure of the facts, but it was something like this. I’ll focus more on the construction of the story and all that. From what I’ve read so far, it sounds pretty great, but yeah, she seems to have been numbed by her experiences. Which, to me, (not sure if this is correct or not) seems pretty understandable because she’s been going through it so many times. I mean 41! That’s a lot. *granted you might change that*. It’s become the norm for her to change house. Know what I mean? Again, I’m not all that advanced. 🙂September 17, 2019 at 5:00 pm #97200
Wow, poor kid. I’m glad that’s not how all foster systems work.
About my story. Yes, she isn’t extremely traumatized, but she still is. It hasn’t manifested itself as much yet, but it will. Also, I’m working in reasons for why she isn’t as traumatized as she “should” be.
Yes, I know the horses are cliche. But, I love them so much that they ended up in the story. I left them in for two reasons. First because horses are something I know inside and out, I won’t need to research anything. Second, because I’m not using the horses as a cure all. There are going to be problems while working with the horses. This is not a horse book, there just happen to be horses. Also, thanks for questioning my call with Dreamer, I needed to be forced to think it through.
Thanks for the help.
41 has been changed. It is now 20. Thanks for the help.
How we chose to fight is just as important as what we fight forSeptember 17, 2019 at 5:45 pm #97208Alabama Rose@bama-rose
horses are something I know inside and out
Oh cool! I’ve only seen about three horses in real life, so that’s awesome! And yeah, I think it works perfectly if she finds healing in other places. 🙂
Also, I’m working in reasons for why she isn’t as traumatized as she “should” be.
Coming up with reasons for something is so hard for me! I feel like I’m not creative enough to be a writer, lol! 🤣
- This reply was modified 5 months ago by Alabama Rose.
Courage, dear heart ~ AslanSeptember 17, 2019 at 9:47 pm #97235
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