Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Post 2: Your Goals.

Besides a great devotional from Steven Curtiss Chapman, the first night of classes pretty much started off with the word "Reunification". Both teachers couldn't emphasize that as the NUMBER ONE GOAL OF THE FOSTER SYSTEM enough. To reunite families and beyond! (enthusiasm courtesy of B. Lightyear)

One teacher even said, "I always tell my birth families, 'I'm not here to take your child, I'm here to take care of your child."

{head tilt} yeah...uh...that's where you and I are different...I'm definitely here to take the child. (I promise I'm not a complete jerk, keep reading.) That sounds awful, but going into this process, I naively assumed that for these kids being pulled into foster care, everyone was kinda cheering for them to end up in a different home, kind of a "who are we kidding? Let's just terminate rights and celebrate a good ol' Gotcha Day!"

Keep in mind, my OH-SO-LIMITED experience thus far includes one very messy but successful international adoption. Reunification? Not even on the table, not even in the house. Birth family who?

There's going to be oodles more on this in the next post. I want to emphasize certain things in certain posts. Grab a Dew and stay with me. Or move along, I don't really mind either way.

This is where the roads split on fostering vs. adoption for this system. Again, going into this, I had very little understanding of all this.

Fostering, as I understand it, involves a team of people helping families in a tough season work toward REUNIFICATION. The foster family takes in a child that is either coming from a previous foster home or was pulled from their birth family within hours before. The question of whether they are (or will be) adoptable isn't even close to being an option at this point. All parties involved at this point, including the foster family, are working toward REUNIFICATION. Have I mentioned that yet?

So, if you're considering being foster parents, you'll have to understand as I have come to do, that this child may not ever be up for adoption. If all goes well, the birth family will accomplish the plan set by the court system in a timely fashion and this child will head back into that home, now a much healthier/safe environment.

Now, if you're not up for that whole deal, you can still become adoptive parents in the system, which is a much different ball game.

To take the process to it's most basic level (as I understand it): if a birth family does not complete the plan that the courts set up in the [very long] alloted timeline, the courts may see fit to terminate those parental rights, and the foster family may have the option of adopting them. If that foster family chooses not to for whatever reason, the child becomes available to those adoptive families that have been waiting.

Please don't hear that adoptive families get the leftovers. There are plenty of foster families that have decided from the beginning that adoption wasn't for them, they only felt called to take care of these kids during this transition.

So, to review:
Foster parents are jumping into the messy and unknown temporary care of a child that could turn into an adoption case, but don't count on it.

Adoptive parents are taking in a child that is officially up for adoption, that has already spent some time in foster care.


.Kate. said...

Very similar to our system here. One other thing to mention is that there are kids who get fast-tracked to adoption. As I understand it, the two main reasons for this happening are 1) a child is pulled from his/her family after multiple detainments and attempts at reunification, and the court determines that continued failed attempts at reunification will just be more harmful to the child, and 2) a child is detained from a parent who has already had children TPR'd.

Just wanted to add a little from my experience with the system :).

Kate said...

just found your blog via Design Mom, and I'm so excited to see a basic, broken down, normal person explanation of how this stuff works, as opposed to something written by a particular agency with an agenda to push. I have some questions that I will separately email you. thanks!

heather said...

So can I ask which side of the fence you're on?? Or are you hanging out by the gate?
We had about half and half in our class... some were there for fostering, some exclusively for adoption and to take in TPR'd kids.
We were the only couple there interested in both; foster to adopt, open to taking straight fostering, legal risk and already terminated situations and being on board for however they turned out.
Our ultimate goal is to get to adoption at some point in the game, but I can't help but think of the kids I may have the opportunity to help heal a little bit here and there while I'm waiting for that.

Alecia said...

Your blog is a great find! I'm an international adoptive Mom and I completely agree that the little brown hands that drew me a picture for my office of him and I playing "ketch" priceless.

Amanda said...

hmmm... lots and lots to think about, to consider... to pray about..

I'm praying for you.

Jillian said...

hey! Just wanted you to know that my mom did fostering for 20 years before she ever adopted. We had many many kids come in and out of our home. Some went back to their birth families and some went on to adoptive families. Anyway, from my perspective, overall, fostering was a great experiance!
What age child are you guys hoping to adopt?