Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I'm Not Dissing Foster Parents

I'm not dissing foster parents. At least, I'm not dissing them as a group.

If you have read other things I have written about adoption you may remember me using phases like "languishing in foster care" or "abusive foster homes." Just so I only offend the people who should be offended, let me clarify. Foster parents have an impossible job and I think everyone should be thankful for what they do. Permanence is not always possible, or even desirable (in the short term) when a child is removed from the home. We need foster parents.

That said, I defy anyone to argue that foster care is not hard on the kids, even in the best of circumstances. Foster care, by definition, does not provide the long term permanence a child needs. Even when it is only a legal technicality that prevents parental rights from being terminated and long term foster parents from adopting there is still uncertainty. Nobody ever really knows what a judge or attorney is going to do until it happens and that last official step, where the name gets changed and the judge says "this is permanent" can not be taken.

That scenario only applies when the system is working unusually well. What is more common is that kids move from foster home to foster home. A lot of things can cause this, some of which none of the professionals or foster parents have any control over. But the fact is that the moving is very, very hard on the kids, even if all of the foster homes are really good.

Finally, we all know that some foster homes are not good, at least not for certain kids. We've all heard stories. I won't go into it.

When I talk about foster care being hard on kids, or anything else critical or seemingly critical about foster care please note that I am not criticizing foster parents. I'm talking about a situation that is hard on kids and a system that could probably be improved, although I don't know how. And when I talk about abuse, I'm only criticizing the abusers, whoever they are.

1 comment:

Hahn at Home said...

My experience with foster care was if I hadn't fought for everything they needed, they would have "languished." Not all foster parents have the energy nor feel they have the right to do that. Not even talking about those who absolutely shouldn't be foster parents. It's a tough, thankless job - and the kids come with no instructions. Most so damaged they are a danger to themselves or others.

Services are limited, supervision where I was was non-existent, and caseloads were so huge, I never once had a social worker in my home once I had a placement.

Easy for things to go wrong. And for many of those kids, having one more thing go wrong is what they absolutely did not need.