By Melanie Wilson
We all need to do better for OUR children.
I currently have a small obsession with First Lady Donna Edwards because of how she speaks about foster children and the work she has done to help the system. She calls foster children OUR CHILDREN because she says they are ours and we need to step up and help them.
These past two weeks have been difficult with twins but what has been more difficult is watching what goes on in the foster care system.
Every child’s situation is unique and there is no cookie cutter solution. The first goal is always reunification of children with their biological family. I truly believe this should be the first goal. We should not take lightly the separation of children from their family.
However we need to be realistic. A case worker told me about 10-15 years ago that the majority of children were reunified with their families and most were successful. She went on to say that in the past 5 years the majority of her cases have gone into adoption or a family member other than the parents were awarded custody.
The system is broken. It is set up to try and help the parents get their kids back but I don’t see how it is set up to help the children. I believe that parents should be given every resource needed to help them so they can be good parents but what are we sacrificing for this to happen?
Our children should not be stuck in the system for 2 years waiting for their parents to get it together.
When Hillary Clinton was First Lady she worked to get legislation passed that says children should only be in the system for a year and should not grow up in the system and age out like before. The idea was that at about 9-10 months into the process a real conversation needed to be had if reunification was realistic or if guardianship or adoption was what needed to happen.
I’m on kids #4 and #5 and I can say this is not what is happening. I have friends that just adopted from foster care and that is not what happened. I’m in a Facebook group for foster parents and this is not what is going on.
Our children can’t wait on adults to get it together.
The twins I have are a little over a year old and this is their second time in foster care. SECOND TIME! They were taken back into the state’s custody 1 month after their case was closed.
Addiction is real. Falling on hard times happens. But if your children are taken you have 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to work on yourself and fix the situation without having to meet your children’s needs.
With one of the babies I had, their mother found a new partner and was engaged in the 5 months I had them. My mom looked at me and made the comment that you can’t find a boyfriend and she is engaged now. Yea, because I’m taking care of her kid.
I follow a ton of blogs about foster care and adoption and daily people are posting pictures of their adoption days. These cute sweet kids holding signs saying they’ve been in care for XYZ number of days. Why are these numbers 700+? I saw one the other day and it was 1,653 days. WHY?
Why can’t we do better? Why is this system broken? Why can’t we have real conversations about what is best for these children?
I don’t have every answer but I do know children should not be in the system for two and three years. We need to hold everyone in the system accountable for what is going on with our children.
I do believe some parents will try their best and get it together and I pray they have the time do so. However some just aren’t going to get it together for one reason or another and their children don’t deserve to sit in foster homes for years.
We need to demand better laws, policies, and procedures from those that have the power to do so. We need case workers and supervisors who have the heart and passion needed to not think of this as just some job but want what is best for these kids. We need judges and lawyers that say enough is enough. We need foster families that are wonderful and take care of our children and ask questions and take a personal interest in every child. We need churches and communities that help support foster children.
There are some amazing case workers, supervisors, judges, lawyers, and foster parents but of course there are some that are not. These children deserve EVERY person in the case to be wonderful, caring, and hard working.
We need to have real conversations. They might hurt some feelings but we are adults and these children deserve more!
DID YOU KNOW? Louisiana has improved foster care over the last few years with new policies and has increased adoptions every year. The state is one of 12 being recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services for the increase in the amount of foster children placed in permanent homes. We have improved but we need to do better! Talk to foster parents and see how you can help them. Think about adopting from the foster care system. Contact your senators and representatives and tell them you care about the foster care system and they need to step up and help. Scream it from the top of your lungs that you care about OUR children and want something done!