Dedication, care necessary in foster parenting

columns@modbee.comMay 20, 2013 

— We adopted kids don't like to think of ourselves as unwanted. We prefer the idea that we were just born in the wrong place and needed extra time for the best people to find us, then love and raise us.

That's a platitude, of course, that glosses over the pain on a mother's end of the transaction and highlights only joy on the other.

Pain and joy is the theme here because May is National Foster Care month, so you can guess what I'm asking you to consider. All good marketers first push the benefits of a product to close a deal but I'm no salesman, so here's the pain of becoming a foster parent through Stanislaus County.

You start with a mandatory, interminable two-hour interest meeting on the first Tuesday of every month, where you'll learn that Stanislaus County Child Protective Services fields almost 2,000 phone calls and makes contact with (goes out to check on) an average of 600 possible child abuse or neglect cases every month.

There are about 600 kids in foster care in our county and, if you're like my wife and me, you'll use those heartbreaking numbers as motivation and enroll in the nine-week licensing classes. Before that, a nice social worker comes to your home and asks probing questions about your personality, marriage stability, finances and other fun topics.

Your foster parent training or PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education) classes go from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Community Services Agency, down in south Modesto off Crows Landing Road, a long drive from wherever you live, it seems.

Trainer Nick warns portions of the classes might be "kinda boring" and he'll deliver, reading countless PowerPoint slides repeating every possible permutation of the concept that children exposed to abuse and neglect come from chaos and will likely demonstrate problem behavior. Got it.

Most of the training materials and videos are 20 years old, and you'll get to know a United Nations of classmates, several single folks and a few same-sex couples.

Since you gutted through those unflattering descriptions of just applying for the gig, you passed my screening test and might make a good foster parent yourself. You understand you have to put up with a lot to find the good in some things.

My wife and I are only five classes into the training, but the joy is coming already as we get to know our classmates, most of whom say they want to adopt, "So our 'lonely only' has someone to play with." Ditto.

I counted 45 people in the first class and 35 showed up for class five. These are good, dedicated people just like you who understand that this is the easiest part, that the real heartache starts months from now when we're clicking an unwanted — I mean "temporarily misplaced" — kid into a car seat, not knowing whether this child is ours for a few months or forever.

We'll do anything to find out how much that will hurt.

Call Marcia at (209) 558-2366 to get your spot in the next interest meeting.

Taylor, a resident of Oakdale, is a behavior analyst. He was a visiting editor at The Bee in 2012. Send questions or comments to columns@modbee.com.

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