With almost all our paperwork finished (still waiting on Medical Report from the doc), our Homestudy complete, and 27 hours of training condensed into 13 hours done, we now play the Waiting Game. Once our Homestudy document is typed up, proofed, and signed then our full application is submitted to DHS and we wait again to officially be certified foster parents.
Wow! This has flown by.
In the midst of the paperwork and training and stress, it seems like it will never end. The sleepless, anxious nights desperately attaching magnetic child locks and slowly chiseling away at the mountain of paperwork seems so far away now.
This "free time" has given me time to reflect. Recently, I've seen several posts and shared articles on Facebook that concern me. It seems many people think all it takes to take care of a child, whether through adoption, foster care, or biologically, is love. How sweet. But how wrong. It also seems that people believe parents who have their children taken by the state do not love their children enough. How hateful. And also wrong.
It takes so much more than merely love to care for a child, whether or not they are biologically your own. It takes discipline, respect, responsibility, time, effort, support, encouragement, money, food, etc. etc. etc. Many parents who have children taken into out-of-home care love their children deeply, but they lack several of the above traits/items to care for their children. Many of these parents were in the foster care system themselves. Many were abused and neglected as children. They might not have had the support systems other, more successful families have in order to care for their children.
Let's take an imaginative tour! Imagine you and your partner have a baby. You live in a modest house, and you both have seemingly stable jobs. One day, your partner comes home with a pink slip: they've been fired. It's ok, though. You'll pick up extra shifts to make ends meet. Because you are up night after night going over finances and arguing, you oversleep and lose your job. The job hunt is brutal and endless, and in the end, there is nothing to show for it. Slowly and steadily, your savings runs out. The car goes. The water goes. The electricity goes. The foreclosure letters come. Your stress level is beyond what you've ever experienced. At this point, your story can take a variety of paths. Or all of them. You abuse your partner (physically, verbally, or emotionally) or your child out of stress for something small they did. You are abused (physically, verbally, or emotionally) by your partner out of stress for something small you did. You are unable to buy diapers or formula for your baby because you literally have no money and no way to drive anywhere to get help. Your neighbors or family members notice what is going on and calls Child Protective Services, and your sweet baby is taken out of your home and put into a foster home.
Never once did I write: "You stopped loving your child." As a future foster parent, it was hard, at first, for me to acknowledge and overcome my biases and judgments of biological parents who have children taken. This ultimately is a destructive attitude and will help literally no one in this process. Bio parents who have kids in out-of-home care love their children. They just might not know how to care for their children properly, which is why we're here.
Yes, there are biological parents who are addicts, knowingly partake in other reckless behavior, or have underlying, scary issues that result in having their children taken. Assuming they do not love their children is not healthy for the precious lives in out-of-home care. That is where our focus should be.