Jeff and Kristina Jones of Wild Free Ones are on the road for Airstream’s #EndlessCaravan, traveling along the East Coast with their three sons to advocate for foster care and adoption. This week, they dispel several myths commonly associated with fostering and share several quotes that have inspired them along their journey.
We have been traveling for over four weeks now on Airstream’s #EndlessCaravan! In each state visited, we’ve gathered state-specific info regarding kids being placed in foster care and posted these stats on our Instagram (@wildfreeones).
We are led to believe that there is a nationwide shortage of foster parents. Some states are in crisis, while others have made strides in recruiting loving people willing to safely open their hearts and homes to kids in need. We are passionate about exposing the need, because we have seen the beauty of bringing our three boys into our family. If our advocacy helps even one more vulnerable child to be placed in a loving, stable family for as long as the need lasts—it's worth it.
We've had many conversations with people about adoption and foster care along our journey. With this, misconceptions can come up. I (Kristina) have had the unique perspective of being both an adoptive parent who has interacted with birth parents, as well as a social worker who has worked professionally with birth parents and children in the public field and a former adoption assessor for a private adoption agency. I’ve learned and observed a few things and wanted to take the time to uncover a few misconceptions that may help someone thinking about taking this path in the future.
Myth: It costs too much to adopt.
Reality: Families who work directly with public agencies typically don't have to pay to adopt, and there are grants available that cover attorney fees and court costs for finalization. Private agencies do charge fees, but these can often be spread out over the course of months and years and there are grants, employer benefits and tax credits available to help reduce these costs. You do not need to be rich to adopt or foster!
Myth: Kids in foster care are troubled.
Reality: While kids do come into foster care because of abuse and neglect and are affected by this trauma, most are regular kids who like to play with friends or watch movies and didn't come into care for any fault of their own. Kids are resilient, and being in a consistent and loving home can do wonders to help kids overcome obstacles. There are supportive services such as therapies that can be put into place to help kids heal and grow.
Myth: I can’t choose who I foster.
Reality: You will be able to choose things like age, gender, and any issues like medical needs that you feel have the capacity to handle. You are able to say yes or no over the phone to any placements you are asked to take in.
Myth: Birth parents are scary to interact with.
Reality: While circumstances surrounding the reason for placements can be shocking, many birth parents are so overwhelmed with their own life struggles to be able to parent yet actually do have love for their children as well as gratitude for foster parents.
Myth: I'll get too attached emotionally.
Reality: Although it's no lie, that's probably why you'd make a great foster parent! The truth is, kids in foster care desperately need someone to attach to and you could help them heal and grow developmentally by providing stability and love. We’re thankful we took measures to help our kids attach when they were babies, like wearing them in wraps and holding them close with lots of eye contact when feeding them their bottle. They are still cuddly kids who are very attached to us!
Keep in mind that if you have a desire to help but aren’t ready to commit full-time, there’s a huge need for respite providers—people trained to take in kids for the weekend to help relieve and support foster parents. We will finish off this post with some quotes from Jason Johnson that resonate with us, he’s one of our favorite bloggers and foster care advocates:
“Most foster parents have heard it said to them - I don't know if I could fully love a child knowing I might have to let them go - and every foster parent has had to wrestle with the weight of that statement in themselves. It's an inherent tension that comes with loving a child that is not your own - a tension that often deters people in fear from getting involved.”
“We all know the end goal of foster care is to provide safe and loving permanence for a child, and we also know that permanence for them might not mean permanence for us.”
“Our motivations are severely challenged by this very real possibility, often exposing a posture which is more concerned about what it will cost us to give love to a child rather than what it will cost a child to never receive love from us. Yet then, as we weigh in balance what we stand to lose against what they stand to gain, the answer is simple - not always easy to do - but simple to see as worth it in the end. We can't let the fear of loving a child who might leave deter us; we must let the fear of a child never knowing our love drive us.”
We hope that our vulnerability and journey inspires those of you that are on the edge of loving a vulnerable child to take a leap of faith and do the same as we did! It’s not always easy and some of these kids will have trauma...but that doesn't mean they aren't worth love and the gift of family.
We encourage those of you that are considering doing this to develop a strong support system around you of people that you love and trust and that won’t judge you when you have hard days. People that will be willing to love your children like an aunt, uncle or close friend would.
You can follow us on our personal blog here, we’re always sharing our experience and encouragement there. If you have any questions, or would like to partner with us to advocate for this cause send us a line at [email protected]