I seriously don’t know. I’m sitting with the knowledge that my family is on board to perhaps foster parent again, and I’m just praying for the right answers for all of us. Where we are now is in a research phase. Well, I’m researching, and sharing my findings with my family. I know the pros and cons of domestic fostering, although I don’t know as much about the older kids (7 and up) that my kids are requesting. I spent a half hour on the phone with the lady who runs the International Foster Care program locally, and got some great insight. We are going to host an informational meeting here early next month, and I’m slowly preparing a document with a list of questions. If we do this, and that’s a large IF, we will be taking our time and exploring very thoroughly all our options. I’d love some input from fellow foster parents on the choice between taking older domestic placements vs. long-term fostering of a refugee teen. I’ve listed my thoughts and impressions, pros and cons below, but I know there’s so much I’m missing. And please feel free to correct me if you feel I am wrong on any of these counts.

Pros/Cons of domestic foster care:

  • BTDT as far as getting and being licensed, we know the drill with our agency and how the process goes.
  • Older kids get more support from their team at public school, so less running myself nuts finding resources and help.
  • Birth parent visits make me totally gun shy after my last experience with bio family and the drama therein.
  • We have little desire to adopt again, and it would be hard to tell an older child that you don’t want to adopt if that situation arises, plus finding an adoptive placement for an older child would be tough.
  • It might be harder to be placed with a single older child because they usually have siblings, and we only have room for one right now.
  • We can help more children overall, because the placements would typically be more short term. 
  • There might be more concern for sexual acting out (or other behaviors that would threaten a smaller child) in older kids that would require keeping a much closer eye on my little one, although he is very verbal so I feel confident in his ability to communicate with me if there was anything scary going on. 

Pros/Cons of international foster care:

  • Teenagers. This is definitely a con, as I struggle with parenting my teen daughters. Teens are HARD!
  • These kids are typically not adoptable, which is a nice fit, since we don’t intend to adopt again.
  • Kids coming from here don’t know how to live in our country, they don’t even know the language. The acclimatization process could be rough and exhausting for all parties. 
  • The typical challenging behaviors of these kids are usually of the less scary variety. For the most part, the high needs behaviors stem from loss and a single short period of trauma, instead of prolonged abuse and or torture. They usually come from families and have a basis of attachment and trust, which is helpful when learning to live in a new family. 
  • You are committing for a long term placement, could be five years or more, which could be a pro or a con.
  • There seems to be more foster parent support in this agency’s program, and there is a higher reimbursement rate which is helpful with teenagers since they are EXPENSIVE! (Of course, we are not doing this for money but this is a factor to consider, as more money allows us to better serve the child.)
  • Having a foster child from another culture and country could possibly further enrich my children’s lives as they learn about life outside the US and the struggles and challenges these refugees face. 

So, input? Ideas? Smacks upside the head?