What does a birth family go through with a child in foster care?
I can only imagine
Let’s say I had my baby, I love him so much. I get caught up in something I didn’t plan. And all of a sudden my baby is gone. The state has taken my child and put him in a foster care family that I don’t know and neither does he. I can imagine this is the worst feeling in the world. I would not wish that upon anyone.
But the truth is DHS just doesn’t come along randomly and take children from their family and put them in foster care. The birth family was doing something wrong, very wrong. They don’t take kids away because parents spank or punish or ground. They take kids away because they are pregnant and smoking meth or exposing drugs to children, or abusing them or neglecting them etc..
For my baby’s birth mom, her first 2 children were taken and adopted before Charlie was even born. She had been arrested and charged with intent to sell meth and her boyfriend had hid the drugs in the car registered to her. Maybe she lost her kids because she was in jail waiting for her court date. I don’t honestly know. But I do know she was involved with the wrong people doing the wrong things. And that also means subjecting your children to bad things. Perhaps her childhood was bad with parents in and out of jail and prison. One thing I do know, if you are going to have children you better protect them and keep them safe from bad things. Or don’t have children until you are ready, or you are mature enough to consider adoption.
I know having your child taken from you is absolutely heartbreaking, but were they thinking of their child in the first place? Charlie’s mom is an addict and she was given every option for help possible. But that meant working a program, staying clean, not having any fun. She wanted a boyfriend, she wanted fun, she wanted an easy carefree life. That is not how you get your baby back. And ultimately she did not get him for even one day. And as much as she was heartbroken, I am glad. This was all on her and she could not even clear the first hurdle. I do feel sorry for her that she could not get herself together. But it is going to take a long time for her to learn. She has baby #4 with her now. I hope she keeps that baby safe. I hope.
I have not walked one step in her shoes. So I will not judge her. I only know that to be a parent it takes giving up everything for that child; every spare minute is given to them. I have only one child and I have no idea how people can raise more than 1 and afford to do it. There is no way I could be doing drugs or anything other than what is best for my son. I know it is painful for them, but it is also painful for the children. And the children always come first.
Foster care adoption and what you need to know
I adopted my infant son from foster care
First of all, I would like to say I am so very blessed that I was able to adopt my little boy.
So… how to adopt from foster care? When I first got Charlie at 3 weeks old, I fell in love, How could you not? Yet being a foster mom there was always that voice in my head reminding me he had a mother that wanted him back. I felt torn because I don’t want to take anyones baby from them, but I wanted him so badly. I had to tell myself that I do not play much of a part in the outcome of Charlie’s story. At first I thought I will try what I can so his bio will be annoyed with him and not want him. This consisted of giving her enough formula to make sure he would spit up all over. But that was silly, he did that no matter how much formula he had and of course that was not going to annoy her.
There is nothing to do. The birth parents are going to get their lives on track, or they are not. It didn’t matter one bit what I did, it was all up to them. There were things I did that certainly helped me to gain the bio mom’s trust and the trust of the case worker and the judge.
I was always kind and polite to the birth mom. I always made sure she knew this was not about me, that I did not have inside information and was not in the know. Because I was not. When she asked me if they were going to terminate her rights, I told her I did not think so, it was way to early for that. My sister and I invited her to church with us and we were kind and generous towards her. Because it was the right thing to do. With the case worker, I always tried very hard to accommodate his schedule and bring the baby to as many things as he wanted me to. I was always prompt with making doctor appointments and keeping to all the requests DHS wanted. I was the model foster parent. I never gave the case worker any problems and he gave me the same respect. He always returned my calls promptly and listened to my questions and concerns. (This is a rarity in case workers. He was GOLD). I also went to all the family team meetings. Mostly because I got a lot of information at them. I attended every court hearing. The first hearing I did not bring the baby, as it was inconvenient for me to bring him. I did bring him to the last 2 hearings. The judge could see that I always came and mostly brought him too. The judge loved seeing him. They like to see the children are happy and healthy with their foster family. On his adoption day, everyone in the court room was very happy for me and Charlie. They could see what a wonderful family he was getting. One less child that would be in the system. My child will never be back in their system. I made myself as involved with the case as I could be and let everyone involved know I was invested in this child. And I was.
There isn’t really a sure fire way on how to adopt from foster care. But I do now that by cooperating with the case worker and the birth parents things went a whole lot smoother and I was definitely the top person in line to adopt this perfect little baby. For me all the pieces fell perfectly together and it was truly meant to be.
Fetal alcohol syndrome: I just can’t say yes to that
I do not foster children with FAS
For a thorough explanation on the syndrome, check out the link below, since I have only had a small touch of what FAS is…
I know a foster/adoptive parent who adopted a baby born with fetal alcohol syndrome. The way she described it I knew I couldn’t raise a child with this. As an adult her son still suffers from the side effects. Her example was “If I stepped off the curb and was going to be hit by a car, he would not try to save or help me. He would just standby and watch with zero empathy”. He could function as an adult , but he has no feelings, he just can’t feel. Nothing would phase him. It is like there is something not wired correctly in his brain because things just do not connect. Another friend fostered a 17 year old and there was definitely something not wired right in his brain. It was like when you tell someone don’t touch the stove because it is hot and you will get burned. They will keep on touching it because there is no connection, they simply don’t get it. This is one effect I know I would not be able to deal with. Even if they are able to thrive and grow will they still have this lack of human connection?
I was worried my baby might have been exposed to this. I was so relieved to see him show empathy. He was only 11 months old. I was at the bottom of the steps and a container of cat food came crashing down the stairs, spilling all over. I was mad about all the food spilled and Charlie started screaming from the top of the stairs. He was worried that I was hurt. I had turned it into a chaotic situation and he reacted with an emotion of empathy for me. I assured him I was ok and I thought, Wow, thank the Lord he can feel that empathy at a young age. I knew then he did not have fetal alcohol syndrome. Because with the drug exposure I thought he might have been exposed to alcohol as well.
Maybe my baby was exposed to alcohol, but he definitely does not have the effects or tendencies of fetal alcohol syndrome… so far.
Foster Care Reunification = Return to family
As a foster parent, I can’t stress this enough to anyone who is considering foster care – the main and end goal of almost every child case is reunification. I heard it over and over. Every class, every meeting, every court hearing. It is a process of always working to get the child back to their family. Fostering is very difficult because, yes, you might have to give that child back. Back to a healthy parent, an alcoholic parent, a drug abuser, or a domestic abuser. Each case is only given a certain amount of time, so it will not go on forever. However, a parent of a newborn baby will get more time. My baby’s birth mom was given a limit of 18 months to get herself together. DHS will give a birth parent every service available all FREE. Paid by our tax dollars. Free gas cards, Walmart gift cards, counseling, therapy, food, housing, bus passes, formula, diapers and money. They are given everything possible to help them succeed. Yet a lot of them cannot clear the first hurdle.
My baby’s birth mom’s list of requirements.
- Have a place to live
- Maintain a job
- Complete drug rehab
- Complete counseling/therapy
- Provide clean UAs
- Attend her visits and engage
That’s it. She did not have her child to take care of and she could not accomplish even one requirement. As time went on some things were added and others were not so important any more. I don’t know the birth mom and my interactions with her weren’t often. I did what she asked and I took care of her baby. That was my only role in this child’s case. I can’t say anything bad about her because I have not walked in her shoes nor do I know anything about her life or her past. This is the role of a foster parent. It is a thankless job. I only know that my baby was placed in foster care because his birth mom was smoking meth and pot while she was pregnant. Even on the day he was born. I am not an addict, so I can’t say anything about that. But I do know my baby will have to live with what she has done to him. She did not get him back and I can honestly say I am thankful. Because I know he is safe and I can finally get to be a mom, I adopted him in February of 2016.
I will not deny, I know she loved him so much. And that is the most heartbreaking part for all these children in the system.
This is where I started my foster care journey http://www.ifapa.org
This is for foster care in Iowa.