How can i support reunification?
I get asked this question very often from people. I wanted to share with you how I am able to support reunification when the reason we got involved with the foster carer system was to adopt.
Firstly let me explain why I chose the foster care system as a means to grow our family.
I in no way want families to fail, quite the opposite actually which is why I find it easy to support reunification in many cases. But the reality is there is a percentage of these kids that are going to need adoptive homes.
Yes we want to adopt but our main reason behind adoption is to give a child a chance at a good life with a good family. Insert foster care.
Domestic adoption didn’t seem like the best option for us because these children often have a loving birth mom who places their child with another family to parent. Other then the trauma of removal from birth parent the kids do not experience many of issues that most kids in care do; prenatal drug and alcohol exposure, neglect, abuse etc.
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And there are many people already approved and waiting in the domestic adoption process. There are not as many willing foster parents.
International adoption fills many of the same reasons and I am not ruling that out for our family one day. But, for now foster care adoption is where we feel God has lead us.
Just because we are hoping to adopt does not mean I want to break apart a family in order to do so. I want to see healing in these families, restoration, parenting capability, freedom from addictions and ability to control and treat mental health issues. I want to tell these kids that you get to go back home. Because in the end all we want is “home.”
Now in saying this foster care is not all happy endings of reunification. Sometimes obstacles are just too great for the birth parents and sometimes there is just pure evil at play.
Sometimes reunification is the farthest thing from what I want for that child because there comes a point in a child case that reunification is the wrong choice. Would cause them more trauma, and is just not in the best interest of the child.
There is a fine line as to when this happens but I believe everyone deserves a second chance, forgiveness and the ability to have their child or children back with them.
Now just because I support reunification does not mean it is easy. It can be very difficult to see a child leave after they have bonded with our family, or when they express that they want to keep living with you. There is a fear that, will they really be safe when they go home or when “eyes” aren’t on the bio families will old habits come back into play and will that child end up in danger again.
I try very hard to be friendly with all of our bio parents and sometimes that is easy and sometimes that is hard. I do not want to judge them on tier actions or what I have heard about the child but sometimes that can be really hard. I try to reverse the situation and think if they judged me on what they heard about foster parents how would I feel? We all have our own stories and journeys we have walked to get to where we are today. Outsiders are not privy to all those details and even though we share the love of a child we really know nothing about each other!
So be friendly and get to know them, often you will find they are not as bad as you may have once thought.
Small gestures can build a relationship. Bring or send pictures of their child, ask them about their child’s likes and dislikes, make sure they know about doctors appointments (they usually have the right to be there). Write a weekly journal on the child’s week so the parents feel connected.
If the fear of saying goodbye to a child is what you find so hard about foster parenting then know building a relationship with the bio family means you are often still involved after reunification! We still get to see a couple of our foster loves and have great relationships with their families. The more people that can give these kids love the better!
Sometimes the bio family is not receptive to this kind of relationship or maybe you do not have the opportunity to interact with them. You can still build a positive relationship thorough the kids. Never speak poorly about them to the children. Let the child know it is ok to love their parents and miss them and want to be with them. Help the child to rebuild the trust with the bio parent that is often shattered when the child is removed from the home.
I encourage you to be all in as a foster parent. Don’t just care for and love on the child but be sure to support and love the bio parents as well.
It breaks my heart when I am not able to have a relationship with the bio parents of kids in my care. I want to tell them how their child is doing, and how beautiful and wonderful they are. No matter what the situation a bio parent has love for their child. Deep down in their hearts they are thinking about their child and what they are doing and who they are becoming.