So here’s the thing, for some reason when I talk to people about “foster care”, their minds often automatically switch to “adoption”. And I am here to tell you: Foster Care does NOT equal adoption.
Now, are SOME children adopted out of the foster care system? Absolutely! My youngest son was adopted through foster care, so I can testify that it does happen…it was not something we were seeking but when it became clear that the biological parents were not going to be able to care for him going forward, we agreed to become his family for life, and that is often how the process happens.
The purpose, the goal, the mission of foster care itself is to reunify biological families if at all possible. This means that in the interim time, as the biological parents are doing what they need to do (as deemed by the court), the foster parents stand in the gap to care for, love and advocate for the children who have been left as vulnerable.
Clearly this is not adoption, so why the confusion? I personally believe that disconnect comes into play because we don’t hear about reunification stories, so this “sometimes occurrence” of adoption leads people to an “all the time” assumption. Of course, we know that there are children who are being maltreated, abused and neglected. But, another side of the story is not usually shared; the one in which the biological parents receive a “wake up call” when their children are removed, and they do everything reunified of them so that they can be reunited with their children. And that, although it happens less often than other options, is the goal of foster care. Help the parents help themselves so their children can come home.
I know people don’t like to hear that. It is difficult to think that children might be reunified with people who have hurt, neglected or abused them. But, our hope should be that they go back…but go back to a safe, loving, caring, and nurturing environment.
Unfortunately, that can’t always happen, which is why people assume adoption is always the answer; but there are possibilities other than adoption. I’ll tackle that subject in an upcoming post. ’Til then…