No Answers

I have a friend with a similar problem to today’s story. Her daughter is not adopted. Her situation is as complex but not as fraught – perhaps. Unless we have the experience our self, we really can’t judge how someone else copes or not with the challenges of their life. I have no answers or even ideas for this one, only empathy and compassion for the whole situation. Though an adoption problem is mentioned at the beginning of this piece, it isn’t clear that the daughter is adopted but she may very well be. Adoptees often (though not all) have relationship issues.

“We dissolved the adoption of our son 5 years ago.”

“We currently have a daughter in a private residential treatment center. She is beginning to own her problems and making an attempt to work on her life, maybe 5% of the time. The staff says they see improvement, we have seen very little, if any, plus her usual tactic is to put forth just enough effort to get you off her back but then regress severely. I have zero faith that the effort they see is going to be genuine, granted she has never had full support 24/7 when she would achieve these moments of trying to cooperate before, so maybe this time is different. Anyway, staff is telling us we need to give her the benefit of the doubt. ‘She is beginning to see that there is a better way to work through her trauma, but doesn’t fully believe she has what it takes. She needs to see you believe in her, that you think she can do it.’ This came after we cut a phone call short because she refused to engage. Kinda like a smack on the wrist.”

“Her program has periodic 10 day home visits and one is coming up the end of this month. To say I am dreading it, is putting it mildly. She causes chaos and pain at every turn and I am the one stuck with her for the whole 10 days. I am really struggling with the ‘Trust her more,’ issue. I don’t trust her one bit. She has stabbed me in the back, figuratively, so many times over the years when I gave her one bit of trust.”

“It feels to me like my daughter is all that matters, no matter what she does to our family, her siblings suffer too, we are to put that behind us and give her the benefit of the doubt. I have always had issues with healthy boundaries and am actively working on that area. This issue feels like I am to push all that aside because my daughter’s life matters more.”

She posted this in an adoption disruption group. She felt the members would understand her point of view. Many of them have shared stories about their challenges and know all about the trauma and grief these children bring into a family.

The woman goes on to write – “I want to love her, but she makes it incredibly hard to do so. My question is, how do you stay emotionally healthy when you feel as though your needs don’t matter? Are you to ignore your own needs, while giving a child who has destroyed so much, the benefit of the doubt? How do you begin to process it? I crashed emotionally on April 1st because I know this is the month for her next home visit…I can’t keep reacting this way.”

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.