Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Guest Post From Trent - Permanency In Foster Care

I'm turning over the blog today to my husband, for some of his recent thoughts on this foster care journey...

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  I was adopted by two amazing parents who offered their home to me as an infant.  My older sister, also, was adopted.  We were raised in a very healthy environment where we always knew we were adopted.  Apparently, I was a loud baby (I know many readers who know me are shocked), and my sister looked desperately at my parents and begged, "can we take him back?"  My three year old sister was getting an idea that this loud, screaming baby was a permanent part of her life, and was hoping there was some way to reverse that.

In foster care, you hear the word permanency a lot.  Foster care is full of permanency plans, permanency conferences, and permanency hearings.  The word became a normal part of our vocabulary very quickly.  

In Texas, there is a one year deadline (with the ability to extend another 6 months) to complete a case for children in the foster system.  This can put the biological parents in a bind to try to complete their service plan in time.  Any setback puts their backs against a deadline.  Yet, that deadline is in place for a purpose.  Children and teens in care need permanency.  In extreme cases, being passed from home to home creates an environment that often leads to poor decisions, bad behavior and intense struggles for the child.  In better situations, these young people may have solid foster homes, but their life is still defined by a mystery of what the future holds.  Foster care is full of the word "permanency" because it matters.

Permanency is naturally built in to most other family systems.  Whether a family is built biologically, or through domestic or international adoption, the entire process is designed with a fairly obvious permanent solution in mind.  Yet foster care is inherently full of the unknown when it comes to the future.  As a foster parent, the ghost of a lack of permanency can appear in unexpected places.  It can also be the thing which people outside of foster care understand the least.

It is behind the "so when will they be YOURS?" questions.

It looms behind the rocking chair at 4 AM, whispering over a foster mama holding a screaming little girl, "you can take her back."

It kicks you in the gut with court room surprises and disappointments.

It is the culprit in the "I could never do that" comments.

It is found in the tears of another foster mom as we leave with her daughter to take her to her permanent home.

It is realizing you are in over your head, hitting the library, and researching what is best for children in a post-adoption contact agreement.

It is the shadow from which others will question your motivation, choices, and even sanity as a foster parent.

But we do this because it is important.  There are children who need permanency desperately.  We need more people helping parents get their lives back together and get their kids back.  We need more foster parents willing to wade into the water of foster care, with its lack of permanency, and offer a home (temporary or forever) for these children.   

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