Week 7: Finding Your Friends

More Than Enough Essentials Fall 2020 Week 7: Finding Your Friends

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    • #72337
      [email protected]
      CAFO Staff

      Have you ever considered biological parents, the foster care system itself, or other organizations as the villain in foster care?  How has your perspective changed over time?

    • #73055
      [email protected]
      Participant

      A time ago, when I began my work as an adoption worker with the Department of Social Services, I did think the biological parents were the “villain.” As I began to work side by side with these biological families and learned the generational abuse and neglect that the whole family had experience and my perspective began to change. I then began to show remorse for these parents and often had a relationship with them even after their children were adopted from foster care. Now, I am not perfect and still have some biological parents that I have worked with the perspective of them being “villains.” This is because I cannot get past that they have had many children placed in foster care, returned to them and then the children returning to foster care (before case closure) and adopted, but before the adoptions are finalizing having another child placed in foster care for the same three/four reasons before. I do not believe I have ever seen the foster care system itself being the villain but maybe more the court system because of the delays it can cause for reunification and permanency. We are currently going through this with my foster placement, where transitional visit can begin in December but the court system is overloaded and they cannot get into court for the plan until next year. This cause unnecessary harm to the children and family.

      • #73078
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        Hey Jeannette, I remember sitting on my couch at home reading through the paperwork for one of my foster children. That paperwork broke my heart. Mom had been in foster care. She has been abused in many of the same ways that she perpetuated abuse. I was sitting with a child – watching as they fought to heal from trauma mom had inflicted, and frankly, angry at her. But also sad. There is a tension there for sure.

    • #73057
      Beth Plyler
      Participant

      Initally we had a caseworker that was so focused on reunification and family preservation that it felt like she was overlooking reality and in denial that the family had so much work to do, seeing the family as the victim rather than the child that had been neglected. It at times felt like DSS was pushing for reunification but failing to speak truthfully with the parents. Like the parents needed a nice come to Jesus meeting rather than being coddled and placated. It frustrated me because I wanted them to see what their actions and choices directly did to their child and it felt like no one was communicating that.

      • #73077
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        I can relate to these feelings Beth. Its not that I always saw DFCS as the villain, but I can definitely admit that I didn’t trust them to do their (very important) jobs well. In a system where foster parents don’t often have a voice, I was scrambling to find comfort and reassurance that these kids I loved were being taken care of and fought for in the ways that I wanted.

    • #73058
      Maren Vallerand
      Participant

      At times I have felt like the system is the villain because it seems so broken and insufficient. The bureaucracy can be frustrating! Learning more about the process, the problems, and the amount of factors involved has helped grow my empathy for those carrying this burden. Recognizing the lack of bandwidth for creativity or improvement emboldens me to identify ways we can take initiative and contribute more meaningfully at a systemic level as well.

      • #73073
        Ryan Keith
        Participant

        Totally agree. So hard, yet so good, to learn the inner workings of the system. Thanks for being faithful.

      • #73076
        [email protected]
        CAFO Staff

        In a weak (very frustrated, the system is the villain) moment….I calculated the costs to the state to maintain a child’s status as a foster child vs. the cost to hire another lawyer and just get the adoption paperwork done. It is not that what I calculated was untrue-it is just not a very nuanced view is it? I think what Ryan said below is true. There are a lot of factors in play, and zeroing in on one issue might have been a way for me to process my fear and frustration, but it wasn’t entirely fair. I should let God take on those fears and frustrations and use my math skills to process data in healthy ways like we discussed a few weeks back!

    • #73072
      Ryan Keith
      Participant

      The system itself has been a strong villain, but overtime God has brought out my arrogance as I learned all the rules and laws to protect children that provide guardrails for us all, across all religions. Similarly, I’ve learned how judges and caseworkers come to the positions they take. Laws are often written in response to something that has occurred, so remembering there’s a reason – even if I feel it not a good one – has helped me be less dismissive. Like any eco-system there are norms that make sense and others you have to live in awhile before you can truly discern their value to the eco-system and/or to oneself. I’m thankful we live in a land where laws matter, even if they frustrate me.

    • #73083
      Amy Pettit
      Participant

      Working with the foster care ministry in the capacity I do, it is easy to consider a “villain” in different ways, dependent on the circumstance.  As an example, one of the foster families our organization supports recently had their placement return home, when there was clear evidence he should not.  In this case, the case worker was determined to get around an obstacle left from the previous one assigned to this child.  Unfortunately, it did not benefit the child and he ended up in a therapy home.  In another case, the biological family seemed to play the part of the villain by spending more time arguing which one would receive the trial placement, which in turn made the child stay in care months longer than necessary.  It’s hard not to take the view/side of the foster parent that I work to support.  It is something that I must stay in constant prayer about.

    • #73088
      Jason Grewe
      Participant

      Before I got into this space, I knew nothing about the system. There is still so much I do not know. But yes, I used to think of the bio-parents as a form of villian. Overtime, after being a parent and going through various traumatic experiences myself, working through counseling and having a better understanding about why I did certain things and how it effected me growing up – I have such a greater appreciation and empathy toward the bio parents. You never know the circumstances that someone is going through. Life is hard. Life has thrown some hard things at me that I wouldn’t have made it without my wife and without some friends helping us. I now have more understanding and desire to see if there is a way to help them.

    • #73095
      Tina Jones
      Participant

      At times, I have absolutely felt the system and biological parents have been the villain. It’s easy to go on a rant and throw blame – at least for me it is.  I often cannot understand why decisions are made that don’t seem to be in the best interest of the child(ren).  This is when my discernment and faith need to kick in and probably a healthy dose of prayer would also be timely. Trusting that God is in control and reminding myself that I am just supposed to do my part and not ALL the parts would also be key.

      He has shown me that the people are not directly the villain- we are fighting a spiritual battle.  And we will continue this battle until Jesus returns.  Stay strong, brothers & sisters.  It’s not a battle for the weak-hearted, oh, but it’s so worth it!

    • #73153
      Chris Schutter
      Participant

      I am in the unique position of looking at OVC from the outside in.  We aren’t foster parents, agency workers or in charge of any bridge organizations that serve the foster care community.  So,  as we have endevoured to learn and serve this area I have not had the type of negative experiences which may lead a person to see others as a villian.

      I have heard from families who are closely involved.  They have shared some of their negative experiences with both the system and biological families.

      The only real experience I have had is when I was starting to make connections with our local county DHHS.  I was told that they had given up on reaching out to the churches as they didn’t get much response when they shared the needs for foster care….it was a bit disheartening to hear that in a small way, maybe the church was a “villian” in their view.

    • #73160
      Jamie Bleakley
      Participant

      My heart was softened early on in this journey for the bio-families and being able to recognize the generational trauma and pain that has gotten them where they are at. Reminding myself (and sometimes the other team members) that we are all on the same team and have the same end goal can be an area of growth. Our caseworkers and AAG have large caseloads and frequent turn over. It often feels that these beautiful little souls living in my home and that I am loving on daily can be seen as just that folder or case number. I need to remind myself the emotional toll that this job takes on the players within the department and exhibit more grace and compassions.

    • #73162
      [email protected]
      Participant

      I am new to the foster care and adoption world, and I was lucky to have someone from our organization, at the start of things, give me insight and clarity into why Bio Families should not be seen as the enemy. I really appreciated this person saying that there are spiritual, societal, and familial elements to the Bio Families’ stories that need to be considered before one rushes to judgement. It really helped me not target them, from the beginning, and I am so glad for their wisdom.

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