Let me start this by saying that we are foster/adopt. Our goal is, and always has been, to grow our family through adoption. Having said that, I have heard some foster parents bashing the system and birth parents involved lately. They don’t understand why the parents are getting second (or fifth or sixth) chances. They want to skip the court and the visits and the appointments and go straight to adoption by the foster parent. I understand the love we feel for the kids in our care and how frustrating it all is but it really bothers me when I hear foster parents who feel like they are entitled to the children in their care.
The grown ups in our cases have all screwed up. They did things that we can’t comprehend and it’s easy to make it some kind of competition between us and them. But, children are not some prize to be handed out to the winner of a parenting contest. They don’t go to the one with the nicest house, the mom who volunteers the most hours at their school or the dad who coaches the most teams. In case your fuzzy on my stance, let me make it clear. My family makes significantly more than our Little People’s birthparents. That doesn’t matter. We go on trips that they can’t. That doesn’t matter. My kids go to private school and wear nice clothes. That doesn’t matter. I love them to the moon and back. Even that doesn’t matter. Because, none of that is a reason for another mother to lose her children. It isn’t a competition of whether we or the bios are better for the kids. It is about whether they can do what the state expects them too in the time allowed.
If you cannot understand that, then you need to be straight adoption because until the ink dries on the adoption decree they are not fully our children. As long as TPR hasn’t happened, the birth parents have a chance. We understood that when we got into this. So it is one thing to advocate for our kids but it is another to try to push for us to keep them. It is our moral and ethical duty to push for what is best for the children and most of the time that means reunification. I don’t even let people pray that I get to adopt my little people because doing so is praying that another family will fall apart. Adoption is a beautiful, wonderful thing that is also extremely painful for kids and adults. It’s not ever the best case scenario. Someday when my kids are older and they start asking questions, I want to be able to look them in the eye and tell them that I did not steal them. I did everything in my power to help them stay in their birth parents.
Part of doing everything means doing visits. Yeah they suck but we knew that when we signed up. Our job is to help our kids handle them and do what we can to make them successful. That means we support the bios. We send notes or pictures. We stay up late those nights and rock our crying children while they try to process a world that doesn’t make sense. We work towards reunification as long as that is an option even if we cannot stand what they did to the children we love.
Fostering is hard. This is a slow and hard process and there are no guarantees. We all have tough moments but our general attitude has to be that we want what is best for the kids even if that hurts us. I believe with all my heart that every child deserves to have someone that will be devastated to see them go. If you can be that person who opens your heart knowing it will be broken, then maybe fostering is for you. But if you can’t, then you should look for another way to help kids or grow your family.