I have a cousin who is a foster parent; I hadn’t realized until yesterday that she is hoping to adopt a baby girl—and she is fostering one right now. She expressed a plea via Facebook that the girl’s mother would fail to get her back, and I (politely) challenged her. She hasn’t responded, but I’m still quietly fuming. (She doesn’t know about Cricket, I don’t think.)

I know that foster care is differently important from private infant adoption—and I know that in general, if people lose custody of their kids to CPS, it’s because of their own actions (or inactions). And I agree that if parents are unable to care for their children, those children are better off being cared for by other people. But praying for a family to be broken up, especially in a semi-public venue? It makes me angry. If this baby girl does end up needing foster parents, I’m glad that my cousin and her husband already love and want her; but that doesn’t mean that it would be a blessing for this child to lose her parents. We’ve all heard it a hundred times—adoption should be about providing homes for children, not providing children for homes.

Just a tiny rant today. Joey’s metamorphosis into toddler is proceeding at an alarming pace, and I’ll talk about that later this week—but not in this post. It’s a joyful thing, and doesn’t belong here.

14 thoughts on “Don’t

  1. This semester my internship involves working with families whose kids are in foster care. The place I work with writes up reports for the court recommending whether the parent/s should get their kids back. The boy I worked with yesterday would be going back to parents who had broken four of his bones during his first five months of life. The girl I evaluated the day before spent at least three months as a preschooler being passed around from one crack house to another as her mother left her with various “friends” while she was AWOL, and that was after her mom had got her back after her first time in foster care as an infant.

    Every case is different and there certainly are cases where I can root for the parent, but in the cases where I would pray for termination of rights, I wouldn’t feel bad for wishing for a family to be “broken up”. I look at it like following the golden rule, or Kant’s categorical imperative: would I want to live with parents who punched me? Would I want to be raised by a mother who left me to be molested by creeps in a porn-filled crack house? No. So I can’t wish that for anyone else, either.

    • Mia, I’ve found that for a lot of kids who are living it, the answer to your hypothetical question is a (sometimes qualified) yes. I do think that termination was the right choice for the little girl we’re about to adopt, but I also feel bad about that because I’ve seen how much it hurts her to miss her family (and hurts her to have dealt with the things that led to the termination) and I grieve for her and for her parents. I root for her parents to do better and I hope they will, but I’m also going to take care of her as best I can. To me, this feels a little different than hoping for termination or to be able to adopt her, even though we did from the start expect termination and hope that she’d never have to join another family again.

      • I guess I’m just jaded from situations where kids were sent back to situations that would only be considered “safe” by the state–not by any reasonable person. I often feel for the parents I see at my internship, because I know whatever else is true for them, they didn’t start out as parents thinking they would end up in our offices. Many of them are 2nd and 3rd generation involved in removals and the child protection system–they had crummy chances to start with, because the same system failed them that is now failing their kids. I don’t believe removal and termination of rights is the only way or even a good way to stop that cycle, but it is the only way the state is willing to fund. If they can get a child out while s/he is young enough to recover and grow up outside that mess, I guess I would pray for that every time.

    • If I was a foster parent, I think it very likely that I would end up feeling angry at my foster kids’ parents—but I hope I’d limit my sharing of that anger and information, you know? Not Facebook it. If if makes a difference, this child was removed from her mother at birth, and hasn’t had years of abuse to suffer through.

  2. I would’ve been so sad to read that status update. I wouldn’t feel comfortable hearing a prayer request like that in any forum, but facebook is especially inappropriate.

  3. I’m a foster parent. Our whole goal is supposed to be to provide temporary care for children and SUPPORT reunification with parents.

    it’s a hard thing to do (especially when you’re fostering to adopt). It’s interesting because my sister and I are both foster parents and she’s much more of the praying for babies to stay type. I feel like I spend half my life trying to remind her that reunification is always the goal when it’s safe. It’s hard, hard stuff. Thank you for sticking up for that baby who should at least have the chance to stay with her family, if it’s at all possible.

  4. It definitely depends on the case. Either way, Facebook wasn’t an appropriate place to declare that, but having been a foster parent for over 6 years I can empathize with her. We had a case in which we very much were cheering for the mother. We have even done quite a few panel Q&As along with her on the topic of how foster parents and parents can work together towards reunification in front of local agencies. I’m all about family preservation! But, sometimes the reality often gets way uglier and when you are personally involved in every detail of the hideous abuse that has occurred to a child, when you see a parent continually choose men, illegal activities and money over spending time with their child, when the parent finds ways to emotionally abuse the child even while she is in care, then you view things much differently.

    I currently am praying for the parental rights of our youngest to be terminated. I don’t think I’m doing so selfishly though. This is her second time in care and she was nearly killed by her mother. When she was reunified the first time, we sent her away a happy, healthy little baby. When she returned to us she was malnourished, dehydrated and had severe burns covering her lower body. Although she was now over a year old, she couldn’t sit up, couldn’t reach to pick anything up, couldn’t even grasp something if placed in her hand. At this point her mother had been through every parenting class and had every resource available to her. She even had FREE full-time daycare despite the fact that she was unemployed and was not in school. Her mother’s behavior since has made it very clear that she is unwillingly (I think almost everyone is ABLE with resources and assistance, which have been offered aplenty) to make the needs of her child a priority and that she would continue to abuse her. How many opportunities should the state give a parent when a child’s life is at stake? So, I pray that she doesn’t have to go back into that horror. At our recent TPR trial the mom admitted under oath that she was letting a registered sex offender watch her son (who shockingly is in her care). The man’s convictions are for raping boys and she’s handing over her son to him several times a week. It’s just sickening.

    We certainly have spent a lot of time supporting the parents of our foster kids and praying FOR them, and in the case of one parent, with her. But sometimes it gets to the point where it just becomes clear that reunification will led to further atrocities and you pray for the thing that will keep the child safe and healthy and hopefully happy.
    Sorry for the book, I know this was about the post on Facebook and I totally agree with you. That wasn’t appropriate at all and I would’ve been cringing at it. But I wanted to share a little about how a person who really does believe in family preservation could also feel strongly about terminating the rights of a particular parent.

    I’m posting this anonymously for obvious reasons but I left my email so you’ll know who I am and that this isn’t just a drive-by 🙂

  5. “If I was a foster parent, I think it very likely that I would end up feeling angry at my foster kids’ parents—but I hope I’d limit my sharing of that anger and information, you know? Not Facebook it. If if makes a difference, this child was removed from her mother at birth, and hasn’t had years of abuse to suffer through.”

    I’m having a tough time wrapping my head around this Susie. Some of the stuff you’ve expressed anger/disappointment/upset/confusion about at Ruth and Nora includes stuff like not playing a mixed CD you made, haircuts, selection of toys, selection of clothing, selection of food, style of communication, Facebook chatting instead of emailing you, etc. etc. etc. As I’ve believe you’ve acknowledged they are good parents who are providing a safe and loving home for your son and you don’t fear he is in danger or that he will be abused. While you may be limiting your sharing to this semi-anonymous blog, you still feel a great deal of negative emotion that you are regularly expressing. I’m having a hard time processing that you feel this degree of upset over these types of issues, but you don’t understand someone publicly praying a child not be in a situation with someone who burned them, beat them, or put drugs into their system? The most probable reason for removal of a child at birth is the mother using drugs. Let’s say today Ruth and Nora became addicted to meth and crack and they were on these drugs while caring for Cricket, would you seriously not pray (wish/hope/whatever you believe) that he be removed from that situation? Would you expect that he suffer years of abuse before it was worth talking about? The sorts of regular situations you are having with Ruth and Nora are worth blogging, but a child in an environment with meth or crack isn’t worth praying about or asking your loved ones to hope for?

    • The goal of foster parenting as I understand it is to care for children until reunification with their healed and improved parents; if you get into foster parenting expressly hoping that parents permanently lose their children, I think that’s a pretty different kettle of fish from “I placed my son with people who were supposed to be better parents than I could and now they are abusing him.” The parallel doesn’t work.

      • Additionally, it’s not clear that the infant in question had horrible things done to her. I know (I’m a FP, believe me I know) that is the worst case scenario. But an awful lot of children, especially infants, come into care for reasons others than horrible abuse and neglect. And while most foster parents I know are supportive of reunification, not all are.

  6. I think it is only a different kettle of fish if you fundamentally believe that loving children and genuinely valuing their safety is determined by biology. It is not hard for me to understand why a foster parent would pray for a child not to return to a violent parent who had abused them. And, it is not difficult to understand how a parent who had voluntarily placed a child OR one who had their rights involuntarily terminated would also pray for and express hopes for their child not to be abused. People who love children wish they would be kept safe and not face abuse. That’s all the same kettle of fish.

    I don’t understand how it is legitimate to express annoyances with fashion choices or music taste of a child you placed, but it is inappropriate to express hopes and wishes that a child not be returned to a parent who is abusing drugs. It may be worth considering that your cousin likely has a great deal of specific information about this child’s situation that you do not have. Painting as about her desire to break up a family so she can adopt may be accurate, or it may not but it sounds like you don’t really have the information to draw that conclusion. Either way, I hope we all send a little hope out to the universe that this baby girl ends up safe and loved.

    • I share your hope, if not all your other sentiments.

      I do think that Facebook is fundamentally different, but if you don’t, you don’t. I do also have information about the child that I have chosen not to share here.

  7. Anon from a couple days ago coming back after taking a deep breath 🙂 I mention above that I agreed with Susie, posting that on Facebook was inappropriate. I think I need to emphasis that again because that sentiment got buried in my over share. Even in the midst of our situation (which most people would agree is NOT safe for a child to be returned too) I’m not out in public begging for the termination. I have about 20 other foster parents that I’m friends with on Facebook. Not a single one would do that. I would have been really shocked to see that as well. Our current situation is ugly, but a lot of kids in foster care can be returned safely to their parents. Aside from our own experience working with a parent who was dedicated to her child and creating a healthy home life for her, I have heard many family’s stories (through other foster parents and case workers) and there are definitely plenty of cases that warrant a swift reunification. So without a full picture, just a random “I don’t want this kid to go back” it’s just… wrong. I’m sure this woman has a support network of other foster parents available to her where she could discuss this situation (and also be challenged if her motives are suspect and grow in her role caring for foster kids).

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