I was recently accused of “doing it for the money.” That sounds bad. Right off the bat, whether you know what I’m talking about or not, it sounds bad. The connotation of doing something just “for the money” is negative.
You would never say it to a teacher. They don’t make enough money anyway. But if they did just teach for the AWESOME pay and they were terrible at it, or heartless, or otherwise just not fit for the classroom even then, if you said, “you do it for the money,” you’d be taking a jab, hitting below the belt. A low blow. Why? Because they are doing something FOR others. Something that many of us don’t want to or can’t do. And now that COVID19 has revealed just how hard homeschooling is—especially when you still have your day job—I think we all appreciate teachers and the ability to send our kids off to school every day that much more.
What about lawyers, doctors, or dentists? Do we ever tell them they are doing it “just for the money?” If so, what compels us to say such a thing? Are we saying they ONLY went through 3-8+ extra years of school and dug themselves into a massive hole of debt while working their butt off to learn a skill only a minority of the population is cut out for “just for all that extra cash?” I mean, that’s stupid, right? Am I the only one who thinks cutting a person down by saying they do their REALLY HARD job “just for the money” is the absolute worst, idiotic cut-down a person can dish?
What about people with less “tough” jobs? What about the Walmart employee, dental assistant, or car detailer at the car wash. Some jobs take you right out of high school. Some require additional training, certificates, or licenses. Would we tell any of these people, “you’re here just for the money”? I’d say we’re less likely to take that position simply because that person probably doesn’t have an “excess” of money. More than likely, this group of blue-collar laborers are low to middle-class folks, living paycheck to paycheck, striving to make it. And if you’ve ever held a blue-collar job, you know the work isn’t necessarily easy just because the pay is lower.
I think we can all agree that accusing a person of doing whatever it is that they do “just for the money” is just plain dumb.
Good. Glad we got that cleared up.
Now, let’s talk about foster parenting. Have you ever thought (maybe not been brave enough to say it out loud to anyone), “that family fosters just for the money”? You might even have a convincing story about this family in your neighborhood. A story where you are convinced that YOU know their motives for fostering. My question to you would be, “How do you really know?” (Please see note below if you need information about reporting abuse or neglect in foster care.)
Really. Think about that question. Is it possible in this situation that that is a legit question to ask?
Let’s break it down how fostering has affected my family.
1. The money we get to foster isn’t actually pay at all. What it is is a stipend. Here’s a break-down of what that stipend goes toward in my home: $125/month in toddler snacks, special milk, and juice; $50/month in other extra groceries; $100/month in diapers and wipes; $100/month in clothes, toys, and shoes; $20/month for the increase in my water bill due to extra loads of laundry and bathtubs full of water to bathe my kiddo; $40/month in gas and maintenance on my vehicle driving back and forth to visits. IF that’s all we spend on our kiddo for the month, we have about $265 leftover. If I break that down into hourly pay for a 30-day month, that’s a whopping $0.36/hour. So, yep…. I’m not doing it for the money.
2. We have virtually no private life anymore. The moment you say yes to that foster care application, your life becomes an open book to the agency who is licensing you and CPS. They ask you all the nitty-gritty questions no one really wants anyone else to know. They ask you about your sex life with your spouse, all your finances, discipline, cleanliness, health conditions, abuse history (if you have it), how you were raised, etc. It’s ALL on paper in your application, written up in your home study, and many parts are examined or talked about monthly at-home visits. All of this is, of course, done to make sure you are fit to foster. We go through all this because we desire to be good foster parents. We aren’t putting all that out there for the money.
3. This life is hard. Beyond the obvious challenge of adding an additional person to your family lies the daily struggle of dealing with emotions. All the emotions. There are emotions of the child, young or old; this child must adjust to this new life. There may be trauma, behavior, grief, or fear to work through. There are the emotions of the foster family. If children are already present in the home, there’s an adjustment period for them as well. There are relationship struggles. There are hard times for sure. We aren’t doing it for the money.
4. There’s love. Unconditional, self-sacrificial love. I used to think I only needed to extend that love to my foster child. I now have also come to a place where I know the other party in this whole screwed up scenario also needs my love. The birth parents. The bio parents. Mom. Dad. They need me to show them love. And that can be pretty darn hard. It’s hard to love people who hate you at first. It’s hard to love people who report you to CPS. But it’s worth it for your foster child. And that kind of love can’t be bought. I’m not doing it for the money.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the (wo)man
who fills his(her) quiver with them!
He(She) shall not be put to shame
when he(she) speaks with his(her) enemies in the gate.”
I got this tattoo on my ankle about nine months ago. We were about four months into our application process at the time. I wanted a permanent reminder that each day is about being there for another person. Each child that comes into my life is a blessing. Each one becomes an arrow in the quiver. As I rear my biological children and each foster child that comes into my home, I am the warrior preparing for battle. I whittle away a raw branch into a smooth stick for the shaft of each arrow. I shape the arrowhead from a rough stone into a smooth point. The fletchings are added to ensure proper flight. Each day that a child is under my roof, they are getting closer and closer to the day they will launch. My foster children may stay for months or years. No matter how long, the time I’ve dedicated to them will help them soar. And, as long as I’m able, I will help “one more.” I’m not doing it for the money.
NOTE: You might even have been in foster care and have a story or two to tell. I would encourage you, especially if that situation caused you physical or emotional harm, to please seek help. There is nothing ok about any kind of abuse or neglect in a foster care setting. If you currently know of a situation where abuse or neglect is occurring in a foster home, then you have a duty to make a report. You can report abuse or neglect here.