The Beginner’s Guide To Fostering 2,300 Refugee Children
So, you just adopted 2,300 refugee children who have been recently separated from their families either after their parents crossed the United States’s southern border illegally or attempted to legally apply for asylum and were detained regardless. It doesn’t matter—the point is that now you’ve really got your hands full!
1. FIRST OF ALL, CONGRATULATE YOURSELF: YOU DESERVE IT!
Being a foster parent is a wonderful, selfless act. To most, it’s an unimaginable sacrifice. The road for children in the foster care system is notoriously perilous, so your contribution to the lives of those most in need is commendable. Now multiply that by 2,300. That’s a lot of back-patting! Hope you’ve been doing your tricep dips!
2. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
You can read all the parenting books in the world, and you probably won’t find much that applies to your personal situation. Every parent-child relationship is unique, and that goes double for you and your 2,300 refugee foster children.
3. DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY “NO”
Keep in mind that you are your 2,300 foster children’s parent, not their friend. Being a good foster parent doesn’t always mean all 2,300 of your foster children will be happy with you. In fact, that’s almost statistically impossible. It’s your job to be their biggest fan, not the other way around!
4. HAVE FUN WITH YOUR KIDS
Parenting is a hard job, but it can also be a lot of fun. There’s tremendous potential for games with 2,300 refugee foster kids. Just be careful if you play war games that they don’t get out of control. It can be a tricky distinction, but remember that you’re raising beautiful little souls, not building a private army! Seriously. Please don’t turn them into a private army.
5. IT WILL GET BETTER
Sure, some of those children who have been literally ripped away from their mothers before they’ve even been weaned seem like an extra handful right now. In a few short years, though, you’ll be able to trust the older ones to pitch in and help take the load off your shoulders, assuming they aren’t in jail by then because of the horrible scars inflicted upon them as innocent children. I said it would get “better,” not that it would ever be easy!
6. LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Not all of your kids can go to Harvard, and that’s exponentially true now that you are the parent of 2,300 refugees. Children don’t need that kind of pressure anyway. If half of these kids survive living under one roof, you’re doing okay. Speaking of which, how big is your roof? This is really a lot of kids to fit under one roof.
7. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
It may seem like supporting 2,300 children, many of whom barely survived gang violence in their birth countries only to barely survive incarceration in the United States, would be so all-consuming that you can’t possibly dedicate any time to yourself. But remember, put your own oxygen mask on before you put 2,300 oxygen masks on all of your foster children. Nobody can hold their breath that long!
8. BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET
The small monthly stipend you receive as a foster parent might seem like a lot of money when multiplied 2,300 times, but with that many mouths to feed, it sure can go fast! Also, the government may or may not pay for their Medicaid, but it will definitely not pay for the 16,000 hours of daycare you will need every single day you go to work. Haha, just kidding—there’s no way you’ll have time for a job or social life. This is a real mess you’ve chosen to clean up for the rest of us!
9. REMEMBER: IT’S NOT FOREVER*
When times get tough, remember that nearly half of foster kids are eventually placed with permanent families. Of course, these aren’t typical foster kids. These are kids that a third of Americans think of as future criminals, so you should be prepared for the long haul, but also don’t forget they could get sent back to their birth families at any time. You never know. There might be enough people left in this country who aren’t literal monsters when November rolls around.
10. ENJOY EVERY MOMENT
Because they grow up fast! And God help us when they do!
*It might be forever.