As to the extended family, I would imagine that depends a lot on both of your folks. I will tell you our experience. Neither of our families liked what we were doing, but they accepted them at family get togethers and gifts were given. It is pretty much like I said above, most people do not understand why someone would want to be foster parents. Again since your husband is in social worker, I would think both your parents would be more likely to look favorably on fostering.
When we started, we asked for a little girl. That was when we got Marie. She was 14 mos. old. Trouble was that she came with her 7 year old brother. That was the same age as our second son. Richard did not know what a comode was or how to take a bath. He had never played ball and was far behind in school. He also was sexually a 16 year old. Our two boys helped Richard and also kept him somewhat under control. We learned a new concept, which back then was called hyperactivity. Both Marie and Richard were hyperactive. We kept Richard for over a year and then the conflict with the other three children became too much and we had Richard removed. I say three because Marie never liked Richard, which perhaps had something to do with his sexual perversion. He was the one that I needed valium for the night after he left. We then took in at different times two boys again the same age as our second son and a girl a couple years older than Marie.
We got Marie when she was 14 months old and thought that it would be great for her to play in our fenced in back yard. The first surprise my wife had was with a play pen. She put Marie in it and started cleaning the house. Marie stayed in it a short time and then did a somersalt (sp?) against the side which turned the play pen over and she never stayed in the play pen again. March came and Marie was put in the back yard. A little while later my wife saw her in the front yard. At 1-1/2 years old she could climb a chainlink fence. She would visit a little boy that lived behind us. He couldn’t climb the fence 4 years later when they moved.
I believe that the social workers knew what a hand full Marie was and that is why they stopped giving us more children. During this time our boys were very helpful with all the children. We worried about the effect it was having on them, especially the youngest. Before Richard left we had a family meeting and all of us discussed the situation and everyone got to vote on whether Richard was to go. After that our second son actually told my wife about a boy in his class that needed a foster home. That was the last child that we took in during that period.
It was also hard on our boys when the twins came to live with us. And again we wondered if we were doing the right thing. Looking back I have no doubts it was the right thing. In the first place, there is no question about them being true brothers and sisters. Even with the question of Richard we all look back on that time and laugh about the things that happened. When our oldest graduated from high school his senior prediction was that he would have 10 children and they would all be named Marie. Our second son majored in sociology and went into social work. He is now at Temple getting his masters. I think our concerns were justified, but they turned out to be just concerns. My advice is that you be sure and include your child in the process.
One piece of advice I have is for you to remember they are in need of foster parents. That can work to your advantage as far as the age and sex of the children you take in. Also like in other things, if you let them they will take advantage of you. If we had put our foot down, we probably would have still have gotten Marie, but not Richard (that is just an example and not something I regret).
One other thing I would like to add. There is a natural conflict between foster parents and the natural parents. You will dress the child all up for a visit with the natural parents and then they will not show up. The child is heart broken that “Mommy” didn’t show up and you are the one that has to console them and go thru the acting out that comes later. During a visit the natural parent will say things to the child about you that confuses the child and again you have to suffer the consequences. The other little girl we had, once sat in my arms and read a letter from her father to me. She was trying to make me jealous, but in that case I just thought it was cute. The point is that the children will also play games with you. Now after all that, please do not fall into the very common tendancy of foster parents to make this into more than it really is. The foster parents that really got us into foster care had more children than I could possibly count and the wife would give each one of the children a new name. She was a wonderful foster mother in everything else but she went out of her way to show her distain for the natural parents. It always made the situation worse rather than better.
Sorry, I got going and couldn’t stop. I guess you can tell that I’m still a foster parent at heart.