Foster - Adopt
Is it Worth It?
A 30 + Year Journey in Fostering Children

A Changing System

Saturday, June 06, 2015
Kathy Blomquist
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"The System's” first purpose is reunification.  No parent takes their first drug with the intention of having their kids taken away in the future.  They love their kids, but have lost or were never taught the ability to parent them. 


Back when I first started Foster care, if a foster parent even mentioned adoption the child would be pulled from the home.   Adoption was not even to be a thought.  Foster families were not allowed to have contact with the child after they left their home.  


Some of the kids stayed in foster care for years and years.  I had a friend who fostered a baby from birth to age 14.  She was in all ways, her daughter and they were the only family the child knew and loved.  At 14 years old a relative came forward and took the child. It was devastating all the way around.


Then "the system" made rulings about how long a child could be in care before parental rights were terminated.  That helped.  But some parents learned how to play the game.  Do just enough to make it look like they were trying and the time limit would be extended.  Kids were still being left in the system longer then they should have been.  It was tightened up again.  This helped shorten their time in the system and seemed to open up the option of adoption.


The current attitude in "the systems" has been decided that kids do better if they are reunified under any circumstance.  So everything possible is to be worked toward reunification.  I agree reunification should be the first priority.  However, it seems the concept has gone a bit overboard.


Parents that have had seven children removed and placed for adoption, are given a another chance when number eight comes along.  Because of the new movement, caseworkers are acting as if the pattern did not exist and it will be different this time around.  So the child is bounced in and out of the parent's home and foster care more than once. The same parenting patterns and addiction issues exist so eventually rights are terminated and the ping pong child has paid the highest price.


Not all cases go like this. Many times it works out wonderfully. The system keeps trying, keeps changing, keeps improving.  The best change I have seen is the Foster-Adopt program.  Kids are placed in your home with the intent of being adopted by you if parental rights get terminated.  This can save a lot of bouncing around for the child. Training has become more intense with background checks, home studies, and mandated training classes.   Contact with foster and bio families is encouraged.  


When it works it is a beautiful thing to see a parent progress and grow and be reunited with their child.  It is a beautiful thing to be a part of that reunification.  Done right, you have the child, the bio family, and the foster family becoming one family.


It is important to remember that you can not take the bio out of a child.  It will always be apart of them.  So if you get a child that is in a ping pong situation, stay close to them and be supportive and encouraging to them and to the bio family.  As frustrating as it may get, you want to be there for the child when they come back in the system.  You want to be there for the child during their hard times.  You want them to know that you are a safe place they can come to.