Adoption · Being a mom · Faith · Fostering · Words to live by

Foster Care Truths: There is no ‘winning’

Some of you may have read this post before; I’m re-posting it after making a few edits. It’s too important not to share again, especially since I know it may help change the perspective of so many people regarding foster care and because I have even more of an excuse to talk about ‘all things foster care’ during foster care awareness month.

In 2016, after our son Will had been in our home through foster care approximately 18 months, his biological parents signed an entrustment {basically signing over their rights to him, placing him into the state’s care and kicking off the adoption process for him}. It was honestly the most brave, selfless act.

That day, and then following the entrustment’s approval in court later on, we got so many congratulations. They ran the gamut from “He is so lucky to have you” to “Thank God he gets to stay with you”. And all of those are true, I think. We are able to provide a safer environment for him and God has provided us with more resources for helping him grow and succeed with his disabilities. And I was incredibly happy to be one step closer to having Will be a permanent part of our family.

I can’t express to you the relief I felt after those papers were signed. The adoption wouldn’t be finalized for almost 10 more months, so I didn’t have true closure, but any progress after months and years of being in limbo begins to lift that invisible burden of worry and anxiety that comes with constantly living in the ‘unknown’ with one of your children. Though I felt relief and we received so much support and love and encouragement… I could not enjoy the happy congratulatory phrases. I had such conflicting feelings battling inside.

Outwardly, I was happy and celebrating in the fact that Will was moving towards permanency with our family. Inwardly, I was mourning. I was mourning for him because he would be losing the potential for connection with the people who gave him life. I was mourning for his parents because they were losing their son. I think when you aren’t an active part of this process, it is easy to view the foster care situation in terms of “us” (the foster parents) and “them” (the birth parents). But I can’t see it that way. And we shouldn’t.  It is not a case of us winning and them losing. There is no winning.

I’d been battling these conflicting feelings for a while and unsure of exactly how to express them when I came across this post from Humans of Foster Care. It captured my feelings exactly:

“Terminating parental rights is a very serious thing, and even when it is best interest of the child, or requested by the child, it doesn’t make it any easier.

NO ONE WON TODAY. There were NO “winners” in that courtroom today. No one cheered at the outcome. No one was excited. There was no joy. It was a somber day for all involved. Everyone knew what today meant and it weighed heavy on all of us in the room.

Parents walked out without a child.

A child, no matter the age, walked out without a parent.

There were no winners today.

Today was tragic. Today was hard. I am sad in my heart tonight for all parties because I am human.”

– from Humans Of Foster Care facebook page

There is joy in the process of foster care and adoption. There is joy in our own personal story of foster care and adoption. There is happiness and relief and hope for Will’s future. But God calls us to also share in the sorrowful burden his birth parents are carrying, and only God can provide true healing and peace for all parties.

Today, I hope you’ll take a minute to re-frame your perspective on parents who lose their rights or choose to give up their children to another family.

Please pray for first families. Pray for siblings who may never know one another. Pray for birth parents who may be feeling shame, embarrassment, anger, or loss. They do not win.

Then take it a step further and include all social workers, attorney’s, and judges involved in these types of situations as they make the most difficult decisions that impact so many lives and futures. They do not win.

Next, pray for foster families . Those who take someone else’s child into their home and love on them through painful times. They do not win.

I want to touch on one more thing, since it relates to foster families and how we interact with biological families.

It is sometimes very easy to fall into that mindset of ‘us’ vs ‘them’, particularly if the agency and courts and attorneys subscribe to that mindset as well.

One of my biggest regrets in all our foster care adventures over the years happened with Will’s biological parents. I had the opportunity to come along side Will’s birth mother and father and show my support for them during an important meeting and I didn’t. Now, don’t get me wrong, we did support them and provide them with as much encouragement and love every opportunity we got. Except for this one time. I was intimidated because we were in a big meeting. There were social workers and attorneys and all sorts of people present. It was my first time experiencing this type of meeting; I didn’t know what to expect and I was unsure of the social guidelines. So I chose to play it safe and fall in line with the general atmosphere of the room, sitting across the table from Will’s mother and father even though my heart was screaming at me to snatch my chair up, drag it over to their side of the table, and plop my heinie in it so I could be WITH them during this big meeting. Instead, I sat across from them; which from my perspective seemed more like ‘against them’ rather than simply across from them. I can’t even imagine what it looked like from their perspective. All I know is that because I made the choice to cast aside all boldness and ignore my heart, I sat in awkward fear, which meant I couldn’t comfort Will’s birth mother when she began crying. I couldn’t let them know that someone was WITH them and FOR them. I may not support their lifestyle or their choices, but I DO absolutely support them as humans, whom God created and loves. I support them as Will’s parents who gave him life and love him.

It was one missed opportunity, and yet I still think about it. I’m grateful for the experience though, because now I know better. When we know better, we do better, and there are so many chances we are given to change our own perspective and the perspective of others regarding foster care and the relationship between biological parents and foster parents. There is no winning in these situations. There is no ‘us’ vs. ‘them’. There is only protecting and loving and supporting all parties involved. Easier said than done for us as humans, but God is able and willing. He will heal and mend. It is who He is and what He does.

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2 thoughts on “Foster Care Truths: There is no ‘winning’

  1. “Terminating parental rights is a very serious thing, and even when it is best interest of the child, or requested by the child, it doesn’t make it any easier.
    Parent’s walked out without a child. Took me right back to the day we terminated our parental rights to our adoptive daughter. Although it was the best for both of us the tearing out of my heart that happened in that courtroom will not be easily forgotten. The judge was condescending to us and even with the City Attorney and our attorneys coming to our defense. . . there was no changing his view of us. This was a taste of what her parents had endured at their court dates. It was not an easy walk.

    Like

    1. Your story is heartbreaking though I’m always so appreciative when you share it because know it must be hard. What a blessing to have experienced what other biological families have experienced during this process. How powerful to be able to come alongside others and be able to truly understand and say ‘me too’.

      Like

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