A Guest Post by Love Me, Love Me Not, Author, S. M. Koz - Family, abandonment, and forbidden romance are at the core of SM Koz’s powerful and emotionally charged novel about a teen who falls for her foster brother. **Giveaway**

Love Me, Love Me Not
S.M. Koz
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: June 19th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Family, abandonment, and forbidden romance are at the core of SM Koz’s powerful and emotionally charged novel about a teen who falls for her foster brother.

When Hailey Brown is removed from her home and put into foster care, all she wants is a safe, comfortable place where she can finish school and move on with her life. It’s not easy adjusting to a new school and a new life, but Mr. and Mrs. Campbell and their teenage son, Brad, welcome Hailey with open arms.

As Hailey begins to adjust to her new life, she and Brad grow closer. For the first time, Hailey feels like she might have a real shot at a future. Soon, however, Hailey realizes her relationship with Brad has crossed the line from friendship into something more. But being with Brad would mean giving up the perfect life that Hailey has waited so long to have.

Can Hailey and Brad resist the feelings that are developing between them—or will they risk it all to be together?

Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, SM Koz delivers a powerful debut about the ups and downs of being a foster child.

Challenges of Dealing with a Broken Home, and the Foster Care System

Being a foster parent is challenging for a number of reasons, ranging from something as simplistic as logistics to something as complicated as the emotional turmoil it can bring to everyone involved.

Imagine this scenario: It’s one in the morning and you get a call from an investigator with DSS. They need an immediate placement for a toddler whose sole parent has been arrested and no other family can be located. You take in the frightened child who is unable to sleep in a new place so you stay by the child’s side until daybreak. Then, with very little sleep, you have to get ready for work, but what to do with the child? Your boss is not sympathetic to your situation, so you need to find yet another new place for the child while you’re at work. Luckily, another foster parent offers to watch the child until you can find daycare. You call dozens of DSS-approved daycares and finally find one that has immediate space for the child. Unfortunately, it’s thirty minutes from your house in the opposite direction of your job. Still, you’re relieved you found a place that seems respectable. You fill out all the paperwork and enroll the child. After two weeks, you and the child have become accustomed to the routine and are growing close. The child is eating and sleeping well, has started calling you Mama, and spends more time giggling than crying. Then, you get another call from DSS. A distant aunt who has never met the child was found, so DSS will pick up the child from daycare and transport her to the aunt in another county. DSS will collect the child’s belongings from you next week. You never even get the chance to say goodbye.

Terribly sad, right? This is not an unusual situation, and I think it highlights the logistical and emotional challenges of foster care, for both the caretaker and the child. Especially at the start of a placement, children may rotate through two, three, even five different places in the matter of days. I can’t even imagine how hard that must be for the child. Then, just when they’re starting to feel settled somewhere, they are often uprooted as DSS finds out more information about the case.

From a foster parent’s perspective, the emotional turmoil comes when you connect with a child and want the best for them but have to allow the system to work the way it’s meant to work, even if you have serious reservations. Sure, you can make your reservations known, but you are always at the mercy of the court. Sometimes, you agree with the court and know the child would thrive elsewhere; sometimes, you know the best place is with you, however, there’s nothing you can do if the court disagrees.

This emotional turmoil is one of the main reasons foster parents (and social workers) burn out. It’s tough to go through this once, let alone every few months. When this has happened to me, I’ve been fortunate to have an amazing husband to lean on. Other foster parents, either from my county or online support groups, have also been great. They always remind me that, ultimately, what it comes down to is trying to help the child as much as you can during the time they’re with you, whether it’s one night or two years. You have very little input into their case, but you can make the most of their time with you and hope that something you’ve done will stick with them and improve their future. It’s not much to hold onto, but for long-term foster parents, it has to be enough to keep going, despite heartbreak after heartbreak.

Author Bio

SM KOZ is a medical writer from North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, two sons, and numerous pets. She has a BS in Biology from Duke University and a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from North Carolina State University. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, photographing nature and her family, gardening, travelling, and attempting, usually unsuccessfully, to decorate birthday cakes. Love Me, Love Me Not is her first traditionally published novel.

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