Is It Safe ?

Good intentions are not enough. Heartfelt desires could still be in a place where impairment makes it not yet entirely safe. Today’s story –

This weekend we had a visit with adopted daughter’s parents. Her mom has expressed to me several times that she wants to take her back some day and that she is willing to fight legally with another family that has her siblings to get her oldest daughter back one day too (as in adopt them back).

I have a few issues with this and I know you guys can help me put it into the proper perspective and stop centering myself:

1) her mom is still heavily under the influence to the point of extremely impaired judgement and does not have stable housing/income/jobs.

2) she has been asking for sleep overs (which I am not opposed to if she didn’t have impaired judgement and her daughter wants them)

3) she says this only about the youngest and oldest daughters and fails to express this sentiment for her youngest son and middle daughter

4) her daughter is sometimes extremely hesitant and afraid of her due to her past behaviors under the influence (think screaming/crying/hiding from her).

We maintain visits regularly with daughter’s parents and extended family. She should know her family, her history, her siblings, her heritage.

What factors would you consider before you allowed sleep overs? I would love for her to have this kind of relationship/time with her mother if it can be done safely and she wants it. Daughter is often hesitant to go to visits with her mom. I stress family is important, knowing them is important. I express that I am not a replacement for her mom and that I never expect to be. That her mom is her mom.

I’m not sure how to best navigate this. Daughter is 7. I want this kind of relationship for her but I keep seeing it as a “someday” kind of thing because of concerns about her physical safety and mental wellbeing. Daughter’s therapist thinks visits with her mom should only be at her request (I disagree) because she shows signs of fear towards her. I do often ask daughter if she wants to call her mom and she consistently says no. I ask her if she wants to visit and she often is on the fence, sometimes yes sometimes no.

I would love to get an adoptee perspective on this. I need to hear it. Thank you.

Some responses –

Safety and impairment are deal breakers. They are the fundamental necessities for any child. Agree with what was stated about the child driving this. Perhaps a middle ground would be to continue regular visits but remain present so daughter feels the safety of your presence and yet there is opportunity for them to develop their own relationship. You are her responsible guardian. Staying by her side, and yet allowing them to have an opportunity seems like it accomplishes all goals. You can provide safe get togethers that are fun activities. A park, a children’s museum, zoo, picnic, etc…

This may not be the popular answer, but here’s my take: If it were me, I’d take daughter’s lead on this. Let her have control over her visits. That said, if there is any safety concern whatsoever, I would absolutely not allow unsupervised visits. Child’s safety must be the number one priority.

In my opinion, one of the worst things a parent can do is force a kid to do something they’re uncomfortable with, especially if they have trauma in that area. It makes me very uncomfortable that she has to go see her mom because you feel that’s important. If my parents had forced me to see my biological parents, it would have undermined my trust in them and pushed me away. Just another adoptee perspective.

On a cautionary note – Adoptee loyalty is a huge issue. They can sense how you really feel. Unless you are able to develop a genuinely loving and caring perspective towards her mom and show that; your daughter won’t have the comfort level she needs to re develop that relationship.

As an adoptee, I agree with the therapist. Do the visits at her request. So often I tiptoed around my adoptive mom’s feelings and would lie and say I wasn’t comfortable with searching for my mom, I didn’t want to meet her, I didn’t want this or that, when in fact I really did. I was too worried about hurting my adoptive mom’s feelings to consider my own. I wouldn’t ask your daughter if she wants call, visit, etc. let her come to you when she wants to. Asking puts pressure on her.

Is COVID19 A Real Excuse ?

If you are worried about continuing visits for your foster children with their original families, what can you do ?

For one – put masks on everyone, wash hands and faces, visit anyway.

If your agency can keep the visiting areas cleaned and no one is showing any symptoms – there should be no reason why such visits should be cancelled.

Of course, if anyone in the family is high risk, then it is only prudent to find another way to visit until everything blows over.  Many families are staying in touch using easy to obtain technologies – zoom, skype or facetime.

Some visits have taken place in libraries but they may close.  Division offices may not be able to support the volume of visits that would have to move there, if the library doesn’t remain open.  Home visits could prove to be a logistical nightmare with all the rules and policies that are in place.  Even public places like a fast food locations with play area may not be wise in light of the pandemic because their ability to keep areas clean enough may be lacking.  There are even some public parks now closed to the public.

People who work in the medical field do suggest postponing in person visits until the potential impact is mitigated. Social isolation is key to limit the spread (especially for those persons who are at high risk for complications).  The reality is a person can be asymptomatic and still be a carrier.

So again, the best suggestion for staying in touch at this time is video visits.  No one should be going in and out of other people’s homes or apartments. You may not have symptoms but could still be contagious. The best way to protect the vulnerable in all of our communities is to self isolate as much as possible.  We all have to do things – like shop for necessary items and food.  In our family and many I know of – only one person is going to risk such exposure with the understanding they may become infected.  This is the reality we are currently living through.

I would not want to see foster parents during this time use COVID19 as an excuse “in the best interest of the child” to limit reunification possibilities with the children’s original parents.