One of the things many people say when they hear that I’m a foster parent is, “I couldn’t imagine getting attached to a child and then having to give them back.” While I can appreciate that people are just expressing their honest feelings, the truth is, that sentiment shows a total lack of understanding about the main point of foster care, which is precisely to love a child to the point of getting attached and then “giving them back” to their parents.
Reunification is the first goal of foster care. When a child is removed from their parents, usually the plan is to provide a safe and loving and nurturing home for them while their parents do the hard work of getting to a place where they can safely parent their children again. It’s messy. It’s an emotional roller coaster. And it’s not always possible. Just over half of children in foster care will be reunified. The rest will be raised by relatives, adopted by foster parents, or remain in foster care until they “age out.”
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that foster parents can play a crucial role in supporting reunification, and in today’s podcast, I’m speaking with a fellow foster parent named Lauren who did just that. The focus of today’s episode is how foster parents can be intentional and proactive in supporting the mothers (and/or in some cases fathers) of the children in their care, championing their efforts to get their children back.
Let me be very clear, though, before we launch into this conversation: this is often the hardest part of foster parenting. The emotional toll is high, and the grief a foster family experiences after reunification is real.
I’m grateful that Lauren shared from her experiences with me, and I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did.
If you’re interested in supporting my work at A Fostered Life, please go my Patreon page, where you can become a patron. Just one dollar a month helps offset the cost of producing these resources and enables me to offer them freely to new and prospective foster parents, and I’m grateful for the support of my patrons.
Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash
3 thoughts on “When Foster Parents Fight for Reunification (Podcast Episode 9)”
Bless you! This is so true. I know a family who has been a temporary placement for over 30 kids, each whose names they still pray for daily! When someone once told him that they could never do it, that they could never love someone and then have their heart ripped out when it was time to let them go, the father of that home simply responded: “Well… They need someone who loves them enough to cry over them each night.”
My response is often, “If not us, who? Where do you suggest these kids should go for the months or years it may take their parents to get them back?” When people say, “I could never…” I want to say, “But you CAN imagine a child living in a group home? Because that’s the alternative when there are not enough foster homes.” It’s not like the kids just go into a vortex while they’re in foster care. Life goes on for them: school, doctor’s appointments, extracurriculars, friendships, therapy, etc. and they need to be in a safe, loving, stable place while they wait for their parents to get clean or be released from prison or take the safe parenting classes or whatever they need to do.
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