Is A “Foster Only” Home Acceptable ?

Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends

When my sons were young, this was a favorite cartoon in my family. Both of my sons had stuffed animals that were imaginary friends and they did mature out of it. In the cartoon, when this happens the imaginary friends are taken into a foster home.

Sadly, though there are MANY foster homes in real life. And there is a lot of abuse in the system. Today’s story is about attitude. A foster parent was posting publicly that she’s not willing to adopt the children currently in her home if they needed that, and that she believes it is totally fine to foster while being unwilling to adopt. I disagree completely because I feel that if a child has no possible route to return to their family and consents to adoption, they should not have to experience another loss, another transition etc. Basically I feel like foster parents need to be open to what the child and their family end up needing, and that taking a placement of a child KNOWING that if reunification cannot be achieved you will be disrupting that child, is wrong.

Obviously there are special situations (a child not wanting to be adopted by you, a child needing to move to be in an adoptive home with their siblings) but that’s not what this lady was talking about, she was talking about having a child in foster care long term, them needing an adoptive home, and refusing to be that home for that child resulting in their team needing to search for other options for them. I also feel like this happens a lot to kids who have (or are perceived to have) challenging behaviors, or older kids, so it’s not like they have all these other great options if an adoptive home is needed because most people who adopt waiting kids in foster care discriminate against kids with behavioral needs or older kids.

Basically, do you think being a “foster only” home is acceptable ?

And now some comments and perspectives.

ALL foster homes should be foster only when reunification is still on the table. Too many foster carers foster for the wrong reasons and sabotage renunciation. We need to go back to the old days when foster homes weren’t even allowed to adopt. Foster parents should be willing to give a child a safe place for whatever amount of time is needed, whatever the outcome. They’re supposed to be part of the team that helps the natural family work through it all. Foster only homes result in higher reunification rates and successful efforts. Eliminating foster only homes would feed the predatory foster to adopt system. No child *needs* adoption. Generally adoption is for the adults. Children need stable homes, but not the erasure of their genetic identity.

From an adoptive parent’s perspective – Why is adoption the end goal? Why can’t they remain in foster care? Why does termination of parental rights have to happen? It’s plausible to think that not having adoption available would reduce terminations and potentially give parents more time. But Child Protective Services is so quick to be done with cases and push adoption that parents aren’t given a fair chance. Very few terminations are actually needed. Maybe the state needs to help make it easier for kinship to take kids. Provide them the money foster carers receive. Why are you so set on adoption being the end result? I think that’s something you need to sit with. There are so many other options. And we can’t just settle for termination and adoption. Without adoption being in place parents rights can be reinstated later down the road if the child is still needing permanency. You feel like it wouldn’t be good for the kid, but several former foster youth have stated the exact opposite.

There was offered this example from real life – a person who has fostered 3 babies/toddlers in the last 3-4 years. They were not reunified with their parents. One went to an extended family member. The other two were placed for adoption through Child Protective Services. This person has 5 children of her own. Three are still at home. She doesn’t want to raise another child for 18 years. But she does feel strongly about providing a safe place for children – while their parents work their plan. Her position is hard for some to understand. People ask her how she can “just give them up after 8 months or a year in her home” and she simply says – “they were never meant to be here forever.”

Damaged

There are worse things than being adopted.  Foster care seems to be that from most of the stories I’ve heard.  Currently, Netflix has a series titled Unbelievable, based on the true story of a serial rapist.

The central character is Marie.  Her newfound independence in an apartment of her own after years in foster homes seemed like a dream come true until he entered her apartment.  Even her foster parents doubted her assertion.

She does not know if she attended kindergarten.  She remembers being hungry and eating dog food.  She reports entering foster care at age 6 or 7.  She met her biological father only once.  She reports not knowing much about her biological mother, who she said would often leave her in the care of boyfriends.  She was sexually and physically abused.

“I moved a lot when I was younger,” Marie says in an interview. “I was in group homes, too.  About two of those and probably 10 or 11 foster homes.  I was on like seven different drugs.  And Zoloft is an adult drug — I was on that at 8.”

Marie got her apartment through a program called Project Ladder designed to help young adults who had grown up in foster care transition to living on their own. Case managers would show participants the dos and don’ts of shopping for groceries, handling a credit card, buying insurance. “The rules about life,” Marie says. Best of all, Project Ladder provided subsidized housing, with each member getting a one-bedroom apartment.

Police pressured her to recant her rape report and then charged her with filing a false report which could have landed her a year long sentence.  Eventually, the truth that she had been raped was revealed.  Marie’s case led to changes in practices and culture.  Detectives receive additional training about rape victims.  Rape victims get immediate assistance from advocates at a local healthcare center.  Investigators must have “definitive proof” of lying before doubting a rape report, and a charge of false reporting must now be reviewed with higher-ups.

The full story is available at ProPublica.

Prenatal to Postnatal Life

What the child is missing is the security and serenity of oneness with
the person who gave birth to him – that continuum of bonding from
prenatal to postnatal life. This profound connection is one that the
adoptee will forever yearn for.

That period immediately after birth, when the infant has made the
transition from the warm, fluid, dark security of the womb to the
cold, bright, alien world of postnatal life is a crucial period.

~ The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier

Both of my parents were adoptees but they did have that advantage – they each had months of that transition time with their natural mothers, before they were handed over to strangers.

With both of my sons, they were placed immediately to my breast.  This is how nature intended a fetus to become a separate person – incrementally.