Parenting Class, Week 4: Normalcy and Cultural Competency

Hello! This week’s adoption parenting class was about normalcy and cultural competency and trying to not abruptly change the child’s life. After all, they were already torn away from their bio family, foster families, extended family, and so many other people. Fortunately, she will be NOT be coming to us directly from being torn away from her family, but there will still be plenty of damage to work through to assimilate into our little family. Hence why we need to be fully committed before meeting her in person.

Class last night started with everyone telling the story behind our name. There were several with family and religious names, a handful that didn’t have a story, and a couple cheating stories thrown in as well. It was amusing!

We learned the following about teens in foster care:

  • They can (now) get their drivers licenses – in the past it was forbidden.
  • They are encouraged to get a job or volunteer.
  • Dating is OK, but at the discretion of the foster parents – um no, my kid isn’t dating until 45! (No, not really..)
  • They are required to receive an allowance, but foster parents set the amount.
  • By age 13, all foster children received classes in Independent Living Services such as life skills training, career counseling, and time management assistance. This can in no way be a replacement for living with a family and learning to cook, do laundry, balance a checkbook, etc.
  • Pell grants without pulling parental income are available to all children older than age 13 when they’re adopted.
  • All children in and adopted from foster care are eligible for a tuition waiver for all Florida state colleges. We still have to pay room, board, food, and books, but tuition is a huge chunk! Plus those Pell Grants..

Back to the allowance thing, chores are an acceptable way to determine the amount, but money for school lunch and movie funds are part of it as well. And foster parents must keep track of how much they give. It seems like a good number of our class are leaning towards older kids as this spiked good conversation – plus jokes about mandatory allowance and where was this when we were growing up?!

Later in class, we were all given a bucket of beads. Each color represented a different racial background  and we had to select beads that represented us, our parents, siblings and children, our extended family, our close friends and coworkers, and our neighbors and community. Ours was pretty much 60% Caucasian with about 30% each African American and Hispanic.

We split up into groups a few times to brainstorm on questions about culture, normalcy, and our response to dumb question. We might’ve gone super sarcastic with our questions as they were from the adopted parents viewpoint.. In my group, we had these questions:

  • Do you have any real children of your own? Nope, just imaginary ones – and – This one feels pretty real to me.
  • What do you know about his real parents? They tasted like chicken.

And bc we missed This Is Us last night due to class, we watched it today. I basically cried through the entire episode. I mean.. really?! This entire season is about adoption OF A TEENAGER!

I’ll be honest, I felt pretty disconnected from class this week. I just want to get this whole process over with. I told the story of Ballerina to a co-worker today and it brought up all kinds of horrible feelings about a CHILD in foster care making decisions for herself and the people that should protect her… well, not doing their job. Is our future child dealing with this somewhere? Man, I truly hope not. 🙁

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