Thursday, August 25, 2011

What to Blog, What Not to Blog - Tricky for a Foster Parent

I have had this blog for about a year.  I initially "locked it down" so that no one other than a select few close family and friends could read it.  I was hoping to share photos and stories about the children that found their way to me through this crazy system called foster care.  But, I was still so afraid of saying the wrong thing and having it "out there" in cyberspace floating around where anyone could read it, my social worker, my foster children when they grow up, the birth-parents and birth family of my foster children.  So, I locked it down and locked it down hard.

But then I realized that what I could legitimately post as a foster parent wasn't scary to have floating around the internet.  And I opened up my blog to the world.  I have so much to say about foster parenting, the psychology of trauma, attachment and parenting.  And now that the floodgates have opened, I am not sure when they will close again.  Let me explain this transformation and what my understanding of foster parenting + blogs =?.

Paramount in any blog situation is the privacy and safety of your family.  This is only magnified x10 when you are discussing a foster family and a foster child's privacy and safety.  This begins by having your blog and also whatever is shared on facebook, myspace, forums or anything like that - be generic and confidential.

Firstly, as much as it pains me (cause they are SO CUTE), you will never see me post a photo of any foster child's face.  So many reasons for this.  One main one is, you never know who else out there will recognize them.  You might unknowingly be connected to his aunt or distant cousin.  Best case, it would make the relationship strained, you are raising the child that their friend or family couldn't.  Worst case, the birth family may want that child back at whatever cost, and they just found out your first and last name and possibly address.  Another main reason is that it is a BIG NO-NO in pretty much every state that I know of to post a photo of foster kids and can even result in your license being revoked.  I like my license and my kids, thank you very much.

Also, unless you meet my kids in person, you will only ever know them by a nickname and age.  No first names and DEFIANTLY no last names.  For a lot of the same reasons as the photos.  Along with this, I only use my first name anywhere on my blog, and never post where I live, city, state or otherwise.  It is amazing the info you can get by Google-ing someone's first name, last name, and state.  Again, I want my address to be private.

Safety and legal issues aside, I am also careful about how much information I share about my foster children, their history, their trauma, and even their tougher behaviors.  I am a firm believer that a child's story is THEIR story, and is not to be told by me to anyone.  As a foster parent, I am privy to a lot of information about them and am there for all of the day-to-day stuff as well.  Its sometimes hard for me to share the reality of the ups and the downs, while being vague, but that is the challenge.  It is in my heart to help them heal, give them a voice and help them join my real live community with as little barriers as possible.

In the end, blogging is a way to share the lessons of this crazy journey.  Many people have asked me such insightful questions about foster care, about trauma, about the psychology of abuse... it is great to have a forum answer some of these questions.  To share with family and friends about my world, to help answer new foster parents' questions and create community with other foster parents.

So foster parenting + a blog = a voice

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