I believe that in the event a child can not be raised by their biological parents, a relative or person close to the parents should be sought out. I believe that the children deserve some connection over no connection: Growing up with Grandma in the house where his Dad was raised. Seeing pictures of her Mom as child in her Aunt's scrapbooks. Hearing stories about his family from the best friend who his parents call "cousin".
I believe that the very act of placing a child in the home of a foster or adoptive family causes loss and trauma, so it should only be done when the child's family can or will not care for them safely. I believe this trauma (some would call it a wound ) happens regardless of the quality, preparation, or love of the fost/adopt family.
I believe that every service should be provided to a parent to help them regain custody of their child before and after removal. I believe that poverty is never a good reason to remove a child. I believe the only children who should be adopted are the ones where everything else has failed. I believe rehab, transportation, food/clothing assistance, housing, and medical care should be readily available to the families involved in the child welfare system. I believe in diligent efforts. I believe children from tough starts become the heroes of tomorrow. I believe giving children the world, but denying them their family does not save them.
I believe children should have every safe opportunity to see their family after removal. I believe those opportunities should extend past adoption and beyond just birthparents. I believe children have the right to all of their information, and to the unedited version of their story. I believe sheltering our children from the truth does not change what happened to them. I believe talking about it and facing their history head on with them is the only loving choice. I believe more contact is the solution to the child's questions and fears post-adoption, not a break from contact until they are older. I believe sharing the child with their biological family in no way diminishes the role of foster and adoptive parents in their child's life. I believe pretending a biological parent is just "the woman who delivered her" (said by an adoptive Mother at a foster care class recently) only denies the child of a meaningful connection. I believe abuse and neglect do not sever familial bonds.
I believe foster care and adoption should give more to the child than it takes away.
I really do believe all that stuff. Really, Really.
But then you have this child in your house who is injured and screams in the middle of night- fearful that their Mother will find them. It gets a little harder to believe.
And you have a Grandma who was told to just come and the baby wouldn't be placed in foster care, but she never made it. Or the Uncle who waited 2 years to step forward as a relative resource. Or the sister who forgot to tell the caseworker about the boyfriend living in the house. It gets a little harder to believe.
You get to know the people who open their homes and hearts to children who need someone. They are kind, passionate, and knowledgeable. They don't dismiss the gravity of what these children face. You kind of wish they were your parents. You see them love these kids and you see the kids love them. You see how the foster parent grieves when a child goes home- the fear for that child's safety that keeps them awake at night. You know that child will yearn for them too. It gets a little harder to believe.
...and it gets really easy to be negative...
When you see the Dad who "lost" his monthly bus pass for the 5th time in a row and can't make it to court or a visit. Or Mom, who loses her welfare and food stamps because she failed to comply with the substance abuse recommendations. But then they walk in to CPS with more expensive sneakers than you can afford. Do you see the caseworker bringing Dad to his 4th orientation for the court ordered parenting classes? Because he goes to orientation, but misses the rest of meetings... And the reunified children you love more than your own life? They are wearing last year's shorts you bought them- that are too short now, and they are covered in flea bites. You know their diet consists mostly of yogurt tube pouches and hotdogs. Diligent efforts have been made for over half of your 8 year old's life. It gets harder to believe.
Sitting in the hallway, wondering if you're doing the right thing by not going into the bedroom as your 4yr old rages after a visit. Walking a 6 week old baby through the metal detectors at the county jail to see a parent. Having the transportation company driver tell you no one showed up for the visit that the kids made Valentines for Grandma. When Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, and Grandpa all mean members of your family more often than members of the child's family. It gets harder to believe.
Because explaining homelessness is harder than saying, "She couldn't have raised any child". As is explaining rape and incest harder than, "There is no Father listed your original birth certificate.". Because there is a difference between, "The judge told your Dad that it is not safe for you to live with him ever again.", and, "Your Mom signed an agreement stating that you will never live with her again, but she can write you 2 letters every year.". Don't forget, "I know Grandma said you are going to live with her, but when the caseworker sent her the papers, she never filled them out. The judge can not send a child to live in a house that hasn't been looked at by the caseworker. We need to know the house is safe.". It gets harder to believe.
I've been very blessed to be surrounded by awesome foster and adoptive parents both in real life and in online community. I recently have heard a lot of chatter about relatives coming to take kids, how the parents get all the rights, and asking for ideas to get visits reduced. I'm stuck in my dilemma because I still believe for these kids. I know there are all kinds of details and injustices that make everyone's situation the exception. I know what it's like to be devoted to a child and so fearful of what could be. So when someone who is really well meaning says they hope Baby 9's family never comes around and we get to keep her forever I know they don't really mean they hope my daughter never gets answers about her biological connections. They aren't saying that an "easy" adoption story of abandonment is preferable over a "difficult" adoption story where everyone fought to the bitter end because this child is loved and wanted by her whole family.
I really mean it when I tell my friends that I hope they can adopt the child who was placed with them. More accurately, I hope they get a child placed with them who actually needs to be adopted. I feel their relief and joy when they come out of court with a surrender or a termination of parental rights after years of tears, and attachment, and second chances.
There is a lot of room to
I don't want to be bitter. I want to be a believer.