When we decided to pursue adoption, we wanted to know what all of the possible avenues were. We started with attending the monthly information session for prospective foster parents to work directly with the County. We took copious notes. We learned that there would be 12 hours of training in order to become foster parents, that primarily focused on how to navigate the court and county systems.
We then went to an information session at Kinship Center. There, we learned that we would be provided 29 hours of training, primarily focused on the needs of a child in foster care, and how a resource family can meet those child’s needs – truly meet those needs and make a meaningful impact on their life forever. We also learned that as a family, we would be provided a Kinship Center social worker whose focus was to make sure we were the right family for a specific child’s needs. We learned that Kinship Center would be navigating the courts and county systems on our behalf, and alongside us.
There was no question in our mind that Kinship Center is who we wanted to partner with on this journey.
During the amazingly and brilliantly designed training we received from Kinship Center, we learned that even if a birth family’s setting is not optimal, if it is safe enough, it is best for a child to be raised with their birth family. This was new information for us, but what we had already learned from Kinship Center about the traumas and effects that loss of a birth family has on a child, we quickly understood. Of course it would be best for a child to stay with the family he was born into.
Assuming a home can be safe enough: Of course a child should be with their family of origin. Of course siblings should stay together. Of course it should not be easy to remove someone’s child from them forever. Of course we are called to live lives that bring wholeness and healing. We spent a lot of time talking about the specific challenges of concurrent planning. It was scary to think of working with a birth family that was potentially dealing with violence, or addiction, or mental illness. It was scary to think of the heartbreak that would come with having the child in our home leave us forever. It was scary to think of a child we loved returning to a family that was less than optimal. It was scary.
But we returned again and again to the hope that we have in healing. We again returned to the reality that we were there to serve a child in need, not to do something that made us feel warm and fuzzy inside. Our guiding principle became: whatever is truly best for the child, is truly best. This includes a child reunifying with their birth family, even a difficult, but safe enough birth family. Even if what is truly best is being a legal part of our family forever.
We knew that once we were given the chance to bring a child into our home, they would be part of our family forever, no matter where they ultimately lived or whether we were a permanent part of their growing up. Our love for that child would never end. Our love for a foster child in our home would never be held back, or diminished, or have a temporary feeling. We knew that we could love a child with the fullness of our hearts, and with all of the actions of our lives, for whatever time we could be a part of their life. We could deal with any personal heartbreak. We were adults. We had a loving support system. We had the tools and resources within ourselves to manage trauma and loss. We would not let a child experience repeated trauma and loss when we could take that burden on their behalf. Whatever is truly best for the child, is truly best.