Foster Care Q&A

Let me tell you, being a foster parent, you get a lot of interesting questions and comments.  Of course there are always the crazies that ask the most inappropriate things in front of the kids (why yes, they do speak English and can HEAR YOU RIGHT NOW), but most of the time I welcome the questions because the more we talk about it and dispel inaccuracies, the better.

Here’s a bit of Q&A on the most common questions I’ve gotten over the past few years…

Q. “Where are they from?”

A.  Foster care is generally managed state to state and in the majority of cases, CT children are placed in CT foster homes.  This is important for funding and administrative purposes, but also to keep the children close to their homes and biological families.  Proximity is important to manage the trauma and facilitates contact with family of origin.  

Q. “What did you do to get licensed?”

A.  We filled out an application, had a few home visits and interviews with social workers, took a class, filled out some paperwork including physician statements and references, and did a lot of waiting.  From start to finish it took nearly a year and cost nothing.

Q. “Do they pay you?”

A.  No. Being a foster parent is not something you do to get rich or support yourself. That being said, the state does do a good job of providing financial support for the children in your care.  They provide a monthly stipend to cover clothing, food, activities and other kid expenses.  They also provide childcare assistance, full medical and dental care, and respite (babysitting) coverage.

Q. “Do you have any say in the kids they put in your home?”

A.  Yes! Of course! As an initial step foster parents complete a questionnaire about the types of matches they are prepared to take.  You can specify anything including: age, number of children, race, gender, types of special needs (behavioral/medical/ect), level of legal risk (meaning how likely a child is to be available for adoption vs. being reunified with his biological family), and more.  On top of those initial questions, every time the phone call comes in for a potential placement, the worker will tell you what they know about the child and you can decide yes or no based on those specific facts.  I have turned down placements.  It’s a terribly hard thing to do but no one benefits from a foster parent getting in over their head.

Q. Okay, this isn’t so much a question but a comment.  Its one I get all the time: “Awww, you’re doing such a wonderful thing. Those kids are lucky to have you.”

A. I appreciate and understand that comment, but it tends to give me the deer-in-the-headlights look because, honestly, it’s missing the mark all together. 

Foster children? Lucky? No.

Many are foster children before they are even old enough to know what that means. They have little permanency, no control, and they are at risk for severe attachment issues.  They’ve been distanced by all the family they’ve ever known, including the woman that birthed them.  They are literally just dropped at a doorstep and asked to put away their fears and open their hearts to complete strangers – survival depending on it.  Not to mention whatever reason for which the state is intervening in the first place.  These children are very unlucky. 

It’s my spouse and I that are the lucky ones.  We are privileged beyond explanation to have the opportunity to parent and love our children.  They are amazing.  They are resilient and powerful.  A tiny three-year old taught me more about bravery, faith, and love than I had ever known.  I am so lucky; they made my dreams come true.  Contrary to popular belief, foster parenting is not a selfless act – you get so much in return.

Q. “Isn’t it hard to give them back? How do you not fall in love with them?”

A.  I feel like this is one of those things people tell themselves as reasoning for not becoming foster parents.  Here’s the thing…foster parenting is not right for everyone.  Maybe it’s not for you. We all contribute to this world in different ways and that’s okay.  But falling in love is not the reason.

The truth is, I actually haven’t yet said good-bye to a foster child, but we did come awfully close.  Would it have been hard to give them back?  Had I fallen in love with them? Oh my goodness yes.  I mean, love is why we’ve moved away from the orphanage model and focused on foster homes. Love is the whole point. My heart was on the verge of shattering.

But the thing is, I love those children so much that I can’t imagine not being there for them when they need someone the most.  I pray that being foster children is the hardest thing they ever need to endure and I love them so deeply that I would have broken my heart for the honor of being the soft place for them to land.

We’ve all had our hearts broken, healed and moved on, and probably for much lesser reasons.  These are beautiful, innocent children…what’s more worthy of heartbreak than that?

What did I miss?  What questions are on your mind? Leave them here and I’ll be happy to answer if I can!  Any other foster mama readers?  How do you answer?

Or, find out more at:

Disclaimer: The thoughts above are only my own and are not meant to reflect those of CT DCF.

14 thoughts on “Foster Care Q&A

  1. I love this post. It really shares how most of the foster parents I know feel. I was brought up in a house that took in foster children (and adopted some, too) for 14 years. My family opened their doors to CT kids when I was 13. Now we have a large, fantastic family of 8 grown or nearly grown children. In my experience, foster kids need unconditional love and structure in their lives. My Mom and Dad were able to give them that. I strongly believe that my biological sisters and I lived greater, fuller lives because of all the kids who lived with us (too many to count) and especially to the ones Mom and Dad adopted. Talk about putting it all into perspective!

    Thank you, Elise, for getting the word out! For anyone who has questions from a sibling’s point of view, please feel free to ask.

  2. I love your post. Thank you so much for all you do. I wish I could foster but my husband is not in board for his own reasons. How do people who can’t bring a child into their home on a long term basis help?

  3. I love this article! I’ve always wanted to do this. My dad spent a few years as a young child in foster care and always talked about his foster mom when I was growing up. Even though he was a little guy, he never forgot how loved she made him feel.

  4. You have NO IDEA how much I appreciate this beautiful post. Thank you, Elise. ♥ I do have one question and that is: What is the BEST question or comment you’ve ever received regarding fostering?

      1. Wonderful. ♥ If you don’t mind answering more questions, how CAN someone help a foster family?

  5. I love this SO MUCH. As the person (DCF worker) who used to make the calls asking foster parents to take in these children, I appreciate you and others like you.

  6. Waterworks over here. Holy smokes. And that last question – that just threw me over the edge. So wonderful.

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