Tuesday, January 17, 2006

How it all started

It started in the Spring of 2000. A young man who had been my sons' favorite babysitter stopped by to say goodbye. His foster parents had recently separated and neither felt they could continue giving him care alone. He did not know where he would end up or if he would ever see us again.

For the next hour I had two re-occurring thoughts, "We could take him. We could be his parents" and "That is the most insane idea I have ever had." I finally mentioned it to my husband, who always saves me from my insane impulses. His response? "Yeah. I keep thinking that too."

So we talked to the boys ('Andrew' and 'Brian') " 'Carl' might be able to live with us. Would you like him to be your big brother?" Only 10 and almost 6 they had no idea what they were getting into and agreed enthusiastically.

We learned he was in the a private permanent placement program. We called the social worker and set up a meeting. After an hour she said she had something important to tell us about 'Carl', something we did not know and that we needed to know. My stomach clenched -- was she going to tell us that he set fires? Tortured small animals? She said, "'Carl' is gay." My first emotion was only relief -- gay I could handle. I was right, though I did not know what an interesting journey it was going to be.

We were put on the fast track for licensing. Housing inspections, TB test, finger printing, letters from doctors, fire escape plan, 6 pages of autobiographical questions ("Please include any history of abuse"), 15 hours of official training and more all completed in less than 6 weeks. We slept on a mattress in the dining room for a month while the extra bedroom was being completed, but we got him.

For two years he lived with us and we told the agency, "This is just about 'Carl.' We don't want to become regular foster parents." Obviously that was not how it worked out. Foster homes for gay young men are not easy to come by (especially in my "red" state) and we have, so far, parented two more.

The program we work with is a permanent placement program. These are kids who, for one reason or another, are not going to return to their birth families or be adopted. The plan is for them to stay in their foster family until they emancipate. We are not the first family to offer these boys a home, but (so far) we have succeeded in being the last.

Update 11/6/07: Frankie was the first youth who came here on permanent placement program who did not stay until emancipation. Perhaps he will be the only one.

4 comments:

  1. I have tears in my eyes. Thank you for being such wonderful, caring (and open minded) people.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am so sad...why would the case worker say something so simple as, "Carl is gay" in the matter that you would say, (Gd forbid) "so and so has cancer, this will be a huge financial and emotional undertaking!"? Nonetheless...thank you for being such good people, and thank Carl for being such a good person...you find each other! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am a single 37 year old in graduate school. I have no children of my own and am starting to think that I am interested in permanent placement fostering serving the GLBT community. This is only a thought at this point and something that I am thinking as part of my long term goals. Should I be talking now to an agency? Is there a spefic organization that tries to place gay youth?

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete

Comments will be open for a little while, then I will be shutting them off. The blog will stay, but I do not want either to moderate comments or leave the blog available to spammers.