Originally Posted by Oliver'sMom
It seems like there's this hierarchal system where the foster parents are in power, and if the mother ever wants to have a relationship or get her OWN CHILD back, she better not make any waves.
I know others have written to clarify, but emotions are also running high on this thread and it can be hard to see through all that. To be clear, the foster parents do not get any say at all about whether and when the mother gets her child back. They are not in charge of the case (actually, they are legally considered a third party without any interest in the case) and have absolutely no say in the outcome. If mom does the work she needs to do, and the courts believe that the progress has been sufficient to make the home environment marginally safe (or better), she will get her daughter back.
I have been a foster parent for many years. I have seen and supported kids going home, and I have also adopted two children who didn't get to go home. Do you want to know the difference between the two kinds of cases? After years and many cases, this is the one and only difference I have seen between things swinging toward reunification vs. termination:
1. In cases that lead to termination, the parents believe that everyone but them is in control of the case. They believe their fate is at the mercy of the system.
2. In cases that lead to reunification, the parents understand that even though their child is temporarily out of their day-to-day control, they hold the greatest power of anyone in the case. They have a legal right to their child so long as they can maintain a marginally safe home. No one else in the case can say that. No one. And no one can make that happen but them. There are numerous legal protections in place to keep them from an unjust loss of rights to the child. In fact, the system is designed so that a case can be drug out for years (three in dd's case) *just* to make sure the parents don't lose rights without due cause.
In cases that lead to reunification, parents do not spiral into thinking of themselves as being at the mercy of others. They accept that they have caused their situation and that they have the same power to dig themselves out. They work the plan they are given with diligence. During visits, they focus on *their* relationship with the child, not all the aspects of the child's life that are out of their control. They are focused, and they are a force to be reckoned with.
I have been in the courtroom when with great praise from the judge, a mother is recognized for all the work she has done, and is granted custody of her children again. There is nothing, I say, NOTHING more elating than watching that.
But the secret formula is always the relinquishment of the victim mentality. I have never, ever seen a case successful in reunification when the parent maintained the belief that the foster parents, or the social workers, or even the judges, hold everything in their hands. Never.
|In the case of my niece, the foster parents seem to have it in their mind that this is their daughter and they will be able to adopt her.
Well, if they have any power at all, it will not last. When one of the relatives seeks custody, or the mother makes sufficient progress in her case, any illusion of power on the part of foster parents will be stripped.
|My SIL is determined to get her back or to at least have her daughter live with family. There's going to be conflict in that situation no matter what.
When a foster parent is told by a social worker that it looks like they will be asked to adopt the child in their care, they start a journey that I have heard aptly called "legal schizophrenia." The foster parent has the incredibly painful and difficult task before them of both supporting reunification efforts and also preparing to be a family together with the child they are parenting 24-7. The foster parent must be of those two minds silmultaneously, and it can be absolutely insanity-making, even when the foster parent goes in knowing that this will be their task (many times they don't, and adoption is something brought up instead by the social worker to a family otherwise prepared for straight-fostering). Every foster parent deals with it differently, but surely whatever the foster parent does, it will be wrong in some way.
If the child doesn't bond in the foster family, the child's capacity for attachments whether through reunification or adoption is diminished. If the child bonds with the foster family, it will feel threatening to the child's family.
I try to be respectful, but I personally tend to error a little more on the side of the former rather than the latter because it involves the longterm well-being of the child and has a positive impact on the child regardless of the outcome of the case. This will look differently for a two year old vs. a four year old. It will also look differently depending on the parenting the child has previously had (a child whose home life has been filled with terrible neglect for example will need a stronger push toward bonding than one whose parents didn't neglect the child for drugs or whatever). What you are describing could
be appropriate in the case of a two year old depending on the facts of the case, which none of us have access to (even with the mom signing a disclosure agreement, some facts will be withheld from you as well).