Friday, November 13, 2015

Foster Parenting: Living in an IF World

Kids say things like "if I'm here when......."  Or if I go home then...."  If I'm here for my birthday can I...."  IF.  IF.  IF.  Our day and our conversations are filled with that little word.  I can only provide so many answers and so many certainties.  I can say things like "well when we have court next time we will know more."  or "there won't be any changes until....."  The truth is this is a very uncertain time in the life of a foster child and the foster family.

We can make plans several months out, but things can change.   A family member may step forward to take custody.  A judge can decide a child is staying in custody.  There is a standard timeline cases usually follow.  There is an initial 5 day hearing, a 30 day hearing, a 60 day and then a 6 month hearing and a 12 month hearing.  So to the child they have their eyes set on each of those dates.  The plans are as follows until that next date then the great big IF reappears.  At each of those markers something could change.   Around 9 months an evaluation of the long term plan is addressed.  Is a return home still the most likely situation?  Is this case moving in the direction of termination of rights?  Does an adoptive family need to be found?  For the sake of the child a huge push has come to shorten the length of time the birth family has to get on their feet and be ready to assume parenting responsibilities again.  This is meant not to totally severe the ties with family or to punish anyone, but to provide more permanence and a lot less IF World living for the child.

With our current set of children we are between the 60 day and the 6month hearing.  We hear a lot less IF talk these days, but it still surfaces almost everyday.  I would encourage you to pray for the children in your community who live in this IF World.  Here are a few ideas to get you going:

*healing from past abuse and neglect
*a sense of self worth
*courage to tell their story
*support at school
*birth families to find stable jobs/housing
*freedom from addiction
*support for foster families
*knowledgeable foster families as they deal with difficult behavior
*healthy attachments
*a belief that they are loved

With love,

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