Michelle Barclay: Judge Green, you have an active social media presence and we can see you posting great guidance to your community about how to navigate the Cobb County Court system right now, but we also noticed a lovely post to your wife on Mother’s Day where you mentioned your foster and adoptive parent experience. Would you tell us a little about what led you and your wife to that path?
Judge Green: We had close family friends who fostered and we heard about the great need for foster parents and so we decided we would go through the training and become foster parents. Over the course of about 6-7 years we fostered fifteen children. Some were single children and some were sibling groups. They had different needs, were of different racial and socio-economic backgrounds, but were all beautiful children in need of a stable home environment.
Barclay: In the foster care system, often only the saddest stories are told in the media because of confidentiality and because government agencies are not always good at PR. What has been your experience as a part of the foster care system?
Judge Green: Our experience as foster parents involved some frustrations, sad experiences, but many great experiences. Our best experience by far was that we were blessed with the opportunity to adopt one of our foster children. She came to us at 16 months old, a beautiful, healthy little girl in need of a safe and stable environment. She was with us for a couple of weeks, then went back to her biological mother. That did not work out, so she came back to us for about two years. Ultimately, the mother surrendered her parental rights and we were able to adopt our daughter.
Barclay: What has the experience of being a foster and adoptive parent taught you?
Judge Green: Being a foster parent taught us that all children are beautiful and with a safe and supportive environment they can all be happy, healthy children. I think we also feel like we got more out of the experience with the children than we gave back.
Barclay: Would you have some advice for folks who might be thinking about becoming foster parents?
Judge Green: There is a great need for decent, stable people to serve as foster parents. You have to go through training, which helps you understand the process better. One of the things that I learned was that there are different types of foster parents. Some do emergency care, which is where they get a call and the child comes to them immediately and the child is with them for a short period of time until DFCS and the courts decide where the child will be placed. These children are usually in the middle of a traumatic situation and the needs of the child are not known, so emergency care can be more challenging. Some foster parents serve as respite care for long term foster parents. They have a little more notice of when the child will come and usually the child stays with them for a few days or weeks and then the child goes back to the long term foster parents. These children are usually the most stable because the foster parents have gotten them stabilized and the treatment that they need. Others serve as long term foster parents. These foster parents have the child until the child goes back to the parents, is adopted, or ages out of foster care. They advocate for the child and ensure they get what they need. This to me is the hardest type of care because you really get attached to the child and most of the time the child will be reunified with the parents so you will have to say goodbye.