Thursday, November 20, 2014

Keeping Siblings Together In Foster Care

Just in case you didn’t know, November is National Adoption Month.  This year’s National Adoption Month theme is “Promoting and Supporting Sibling Connections.”  

Just last month I attended a training on the subject of maintaining sibling connections in foster care and we watched the following video- Brothers and Sisters:  Keeping Siblings in Foster Care Connected:
I was struck by the young woman in this video (see 6:22) who pointed out the correlation between foster children running away after being separated from siblings.  She stated that behavioral problems stem from being separated which I think is very telling. 
Another young woman who was separated from her siblings after entering foster care made the recommendations to child welfare professionals and policy makers in the video that If siblings can’t be kept together in the same home, then at least place them in the same area or school where they can still have contact with one another or ensure that they have frequent visits (at least once a month) with each other or make sure they’re able to call each other or write letters to each other.
The policy and common sense of keeping siblings together leads to the question of:  Why would siblings ever be separated in the first place?  Here’s three reasons why as discussed in the training I attended:
1)      The first obvious reason is limited physical space in a foster or adoptive home to adopt a large sibling group.  Not everybody has the space available to take in three or more children let alone one more child.
2)      Another reason to separate siblings is if they are a danger to each other- specifically in the case of cases of sexual abuse in their home of origin resulting in children “acting out” abuse on each other.  One of the presenters at the training I attended was careful, however, to point out the difference between a child being “sexually reactive” versus being a perpetrator.
3)      I also thought it was interesting that in the past, according to one presenter who works as an adoption specialist matching waiting children with families, that parentification was a reason to separate siblings.  In other words, If one child took on the role of being the parent to other siblings it was figured it was unhealthy and a remedy would be to separate that child from their siblings in order for them to just “be a kid” again.

Everybody needs a sibling connection no matter your age!  I’m a grown woman and I interact with my siblings at least weekly (if not daily) through calls, texts, or e-mails.  The thought of what my life would be like if I had to be separated from my brothers or sisters now or especially if we had been separated while growing up makes me very sad. 
I think it’s important for foster parents, child welfare professionals or anyone wanting to advocate for today’s youth who find themselves in foster care to put yourself in their shoes, as the young woman says at the very end of the video and consider how you would feel if you couldn’t see your brothers or sisters.    

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thought For The Day

I needed to see this today:

Jack and Jill's Permanency Hearing is this week and there are some interesting new developments in their case which could really change the course of things.

God grant me PATIENCE!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Foster Children Being Adopted By Relatives

Image courtesy Getty Images
What's worst is that it's in my own home state.
Let me start off by saying that I am not against relatives coming forward to be either a kinship placement for foster children on a temporary basis or on a more permanent basis should they choose to adopt the child(ren) or take the responsibility of legal guardianship.  HOWEVER, in "Mary's Ideal Child Welfare World" these two conditions would have to be met in order for that to happen:
1)  Such an adoption would be IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD (rather than causing additional disruption and trauma to children who are already securely attached to their foster family in a safe and loving foster home)
2)  Relatives need to come forward WITHIN 90 -120 DAYS of the Child being placed in custody.
90 Days for birthparents to track down a relative seems like an extremely reasonable timeframe to me.  By law, DCFS is REQUIRED to search for relatives of children when children are placed into foster care.  Kin take placement precedence over non-relatives.  Every foster parent knows this, which is why, in the past, when a child has been placed in our home I {try} to think of our home and family as a resource for a child to stay as an emergency placement for anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months until they are able to be placed with approved family members.  It's usually after the 90 day timeframe that I stop holding my breath and think, "Okay- no relatives have come forward yet so it looks like they'll be staying longer."
Relatives came forward within the 90 day timeframe in the case of our former foster son "George" and in Ty and Ian's case.  And our family was okay with that precisely because the relatives were able to come forward and pass their background checks, get their homes inspected, etc. within 2-3 months.  It's when relatives come forward after the children have spent an extended amount of time in their foster home when I have issues with things.
This story of Liam & Jackson and their foster family stirs up some particularly sorrowful feelings inside of me because it takes me back to two years ago when our foster baby, Rose, was transferred from our care into the care of a relative who eventually adopted her after Rose's parents rights were terminated.  I have nothing personally against Rose's relative who is now her new mom but it's the fact that she came forward AFTER Rose had been in our care for almost a year.  If I read the article correctly, it sounds like Jackson and Liam have been with their current family for over two years now. 
Why move them?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Things People Say To Foster Parents

I know most people mean well when they make a comment about our foster children or ask a question, but Oh. My. Goodness. I just had to laugh at how accurate this video is because I think I've heard every single one of these comments!

My personal favorite was "I've always wanted to be a foster parent but I just have SUCH A BIG HEART FOR CHILDREN - that I can't."

$#!+ People Say To Foster Parents from Robert Bethke on Vimeo.