Kris’ Corner – When to say no

by Joy Coordinator

Here’s the thing…this answer is going to be a different answer for everyone, but when should you say “no” to a possible placement? There are many, many, many reasons to say yes…and for some of you, “yes” will always be the answer, because you have the capacity (emotionally and physically) to do so.

But sometimes, have to say “no”. In order to make a wise decision, and especially if you have a personality type such as I do, you have to have clear boundaries about the type of placement you are willing and able to accept.

As I alluded to above, some people are wide open and are willing and able to take virtually any type of placement…and I say, “God bless them! That is simply amazing!”

But I believe that the majority of us have a depth to our capabilities and have to put boundaries in place…both for ourselves and the agency.

For instance, if you have set parameters which say:

  • 2 kids maximum
  • Boys only
  • Ages 5-12 only

But you get a call with an emergency placement of a boy and 2 girls, all under 4…DO NOT TAKE PLACEMENT! (This is my experience coming into play here…I know about that of which I speak!)

Now, Children’s Bureau probably would not call you with such a request, but another agency might ask you to consider taking a placement outside your specifications.

It is perfectly OK for you to say, “no”, because you know what you can handle, you know what you are set up to accommodate, and the last thing that you, your agency, AND the children themselves want is for a disruption (see my post on that very topic). If you take placement beyond what you can bear, it will almost certainly end up in disruption.

Now, there is always the possibility that the “perfect” placement call is received but the timing is all wrong. Maybe you’re getting ready to go on vacation; clearly, that is not an ideal time to take a placement. A child will need time to settle in and placing them in respite care during your vacation will not help the settling in process. It’s also not exactly fair, or ideal.

Maybe a family member is ill, someone close just passed away, or life is simply beyond crazy with the children already in your home. Or maybe you just had a placement reunified and you need to take a step back for a minute in order to catch your breath. For all of those reasons, and more, it is ok to say “no”.

This does not mean your agency will not call you again. I assure you, they will. This does not mean they think you are difficult or crazy or a waste of everyone’s time (I’m saying all these things, because I was afraid for a long time that we were perceived this way…which, as it turns out…was not true). They value you and your place in this foster care world. They appreciate your boundaries (even if they wish they were bigger), because it helps them know you and that you are avoiding a disruption.

It IS ok to say “no”.

Sincerely,

Kris