Wednesday, July 13, 2011

And More.

This question was in Carol's comment on my last post. Carol and I live in the same state and even we have seen such a difference in our experiences with foster care. Carol is a sweet lady that has always been very supportive of all foster moms, especially myself.

If you go back and read her whole comment on my other post you will see where she is coming from and you will see that she has very good reason to be concerned about bio parents having this information.

To answer your question Carol, yes, I do think about that and worry about being "harassed", but more so I just worry about their misconceptions about access they would have to Lizzy in general.

Honestly, I can always just change my phone number. I don't want to have to do that, but if it got bad enough that is what I would do. I am glad that you and your agency have decided to do everything you can to protect your children and you. I do feel, in your case, that is a necessity. I have not been put in the position you have been YET.

Obviously, I need to proceed with caution. I do plan on being a little more careful with my next cases. BUT, I kind of have been cut off at the knees when it comes to privacy anyway. Let me explain how:

1. Everyone that comes into the agency has to sign in on the sign in sheet. First and Last names. I often have to sign right under my child's bio parent's names. So, all it would take was them glancing at the sign in sheet at any time that sits there for all to see and they would have my first and last name.

2. There is no separate parking for me vs. the bio parents. They all know which car is mine and could copy down my license plate number any time they wanted.

3. When we go on vacation we have to fill out a sheet WITH THE ADDRESS of where we are going. The bio parents have to sign this very same sheet allowing the children to go WITH THE ADDRESS ON IT.

4. Often times the workers will hand me paper work in from of the bio parents that has my full name and address on it. I know on one occasion I accidentally left that paper work alone in a room with a bio parent.

I feel like they do so little to protect our address that it honestly is hopeless. I obviously do not give it out, ever, but all they would have to do is google my name and if they end up knowing my husband's first name (which they all have known) it would be VERY easy to look me up.

Too easy.

I am well aware some day this may be a problem and I don't plan on giving my phone number to everyone. My two little girls that just left were a case as such, dad wanted our phone number, but I never gave it to him. I don't regret that. I don't think we would have had some stellar relationship and they didn't even go back to him.

It is not a good idea for these people to know where we live. Any of them. BUT sometimes, after you get to know works out ok. Honestly, I think we all need to be issued cell phones that are for foster care only that have no addresses or names attached to them at all.


mamamargie said...

It's a case by case decision as to have much contact to have with the bio parents. Each family is soooo different.

Mie said...

I can actually speak to that question personally since I invited the bio parents over with one case. Now granted, the occasion was for his going home, they were doing really well, weren't previously violent criminals, we knew a lot of their family, etc., and we were hoping it would work out for them to have their son for good. In this case the risk was very low. Additionally, we appeared to be the only people in their lives that were their peers that were a good influence. Supporting them as they raised their son was the best chance their son had too.

Nevertheless my husband had the same concern...what if we did this and then he came back to us later? We wouldn't be able to take him back because they'd know where we live, etc. With phones, you can block a phone number from calling you permanently. You can change the number. With email, you can choose not to answer (as you can with a phone). Our phones are unlisted anyway as is our address for free because of my husband's occupation. But we still worried about it. Again we were hoping that we'd have to face the reality in this case (or we wouldn't have supported his home going the way we did).

About 2 months later we received a call that he was taken into care and needed placement. We were first choice. We would have taken him back given this case. It was like taking a kinship placement - the risk is the risk is there that something could happen but it's fairly low and they knew that if they violated our privacy (like showing up at our house), they'd certainly risk permanently losing their son and, if they posed a danger to us they knew without a doubt we'd protect ourselves and our family. We can do that in Texas.

Parents rights were terminated and they haven't talked to us since.

In the one case that I have that is headed for adoption now, I would have them over to our house. TPR has already taken place. I won't get into it, but they don't pose a danger to our family at all. BUT, with all of my other cases (I've had 5) I wouldn't even think about it.

Denver Laura said...

We had to create a new foster-only email address that did not include our last name. We are a cell only household, so there's no way to track it back to our home unless you googled the phone number with the city. It's amazing what you can find about yourself through google.

We had a family that we regretted giving them our address. It was an approved aunt that came to our house, but we found out that the parents got our address from them. We worried about a drive-by during that whole placement.

Our current placement is different. We decided to play it safe and meet at a local parking lot close to our house. Video cameras were all around. One grandma got our home address to pick him up but the other grandma didn't. We still don't trust that other grandma.

We give our my hubby's cell phone number. I don't want them harassing me. We had to change our email since for some reason the caseworker forwarded it along with our last name and phone number to the grandmas. I only found out about it through a different email chain. I was never copied on the original email.

I agree - we should get a foster agency issued cell phone. but then I guess we'd get harassed by bio family who had the former foster family's number.

Carol said...

Thank you for your kind comments.

I see your biggest problem as the agency that you are currently working with. We have security sign in sheets just like what you described. But our security is so protected that tomorrow when we transport the new baby for a visit, we are taking her to the employee entrance where the caseworker will come out and take her from us. The same scenario will happen to pick her up.

We would never under any circumstances have to wait in the same waiting room as the bios.

All but one of the 8 children that we have had have drug addicted mothers. Out of the 8 we have already adopted 3 in our family and the new baby will probably be staying forever.

We in our multi generational foster family do consider foster care to be a ministry. It is God's command that we care for the orphan and the widow. We consider these kids to be society's orphans therefore God is requiring that we care for them. We do believe that the bio parents either mom or dad to be society's widows and are therefore worthy of our care. That calling though may not in our opinion be required of the same person and may not even be in the best interest of anyone to care for both.

I do see and acknowledge that in some cases that having contact with the bios may be appropriate and so maybe instead of a blanket conclusion statement, maybe each case could be considered on a case by case basis.

We in our family to date have found it more advantageous for multiple reasons to not have contact and in fact in some cases we are extremely careful to maintain our anonymity. ie. our current newborn and our 5 yr old adopted one--their mother during the time between the 2 births was incarcerated for attempted manslaughter.

MommaT said...

New to your blog...reading through it.
We're in our second year of fostering. We got our first call one week after being licensed., and he's still with us.
Our identity isn't protected at all either. It's crazy. I was visiting mom at a rehab facility where I always had to sign in, similar to what you've descrbed here. So, no protection. I was the one to goof up and text a pic to bio dad upon request at a visit and immediately had an internal slap of the forehead for basically giving him my number. It hasn't been a huge issue, but I recently got an app to get a "new number" to give the family and any future birth parents. There's a high profile murder case in the family...and although no convictions, there's still the idea of it being this person who had my number. Now he has the new number, but it probably doesn't matter thanks to google. Found my address rather easily when I looked. :-/