Reunification is the GOAL
In case you or someone you know needs to be reminded, I’ll say it again: Reunification is the GOAL.
I know it’s a foreign concept to people outside “the system.” And sometimes it’s easy for a foster parent to forget.
When you foster a child, the plan is to give them back.
And not because of parents’ rights, and not because the system is broken, and not because people are lazy or don’t do their jobs or don’t care about the kids.
Reunification is the goal, because study after study, statistic after statistic, have shown that children who remain with their birth parents fare better than those who don’t.
That’s why, regardless of who can provide better opportunities, or who has a better job or lives in a better neighborhood, or who has made more sacrifices or attended more doctor appointments, whenever it can be done safely, reunification is the goal.
Because when it can be done safely, reunification IS what’s best for the child.
It’s easy to forget because we really do love these children like our own.
It’s entirely too easy for a foster parent to say, “if someone took my kid, I would jump through any hoop to get them back” or “if I only got to see my daughter for one hour per week, nothing would keep me away” or “the bio dad doesn’t deserve to get her back; he has NEVER made her well-being a priority.” I know those things are easy to say, because I’ve said them.
I’ve also adopted two precious boys who couldn’t safely be returned to their birth families.
I need the reminder myself sometimes.
I belong to several foster parent groups on Facebook, and I often see posts by foster parents who’re having a bad day and venting to people who understand. But sometimes I wonder if some of them need a perspective adjustment.
I see people venting that the baby has been in care for 6 weeks and the parents have done NOTHING! And other foster parents chime in about how broken the system is and how unreasonable it is that these parents will get multiple chances to get their child back.
And I really just want to ask what exactly they expect. I don’t usually, because I know that they are just venting, and I hope that in their offline, real, everyday life, they do support birth parents and reunification. And that they’re just having a bad day and venting to the only people that understand.
But really, humor me for a minute and let’s imagine:
You’re living your life. You have some issues and know that you’ll never win Mother of the Year, but your kids are fed, more or less. You’re not beating them, or putting cigarettes out on their arms, or doing any kind of permanent damage.
Then some bureaucrat shows up and barges into your house and tells you that not only are you not Mother of the Year, you are World’s Worst Mother, and she’s taking your kids. Today. Right Now.
You swear that this can’t actually be happening. You see the news, there are people out there doing really horrible things to their kids. Hell! you know people that are much worse parents than you. What about that women in Walmart last week that you saw yank her kid around by the ponytail? Nobody took her kid….
How long do you think it takes for the wake-up call to actually wake you up? How long before you realize that you really do have a drug problem and that it really is affecting your kids? 6 weeks? 6 months? A year? When that wake-up call comes, what if it’s too late? What if you were allotted 6 months to change your whole life, and it took you 3 months to wake up, and now it’s too late to jump through all the hoops before you’re out of time.
How many chances does a child get to grow up with the woman who birthed her? If there’s a chance that the family can be safely reunified, the children deserve that chance.