Christa asked a good question. Where are the statistics to prove that reunification (the goal of foster care is to return the child or children to their biological family especially parents) works?
I found the following pdf full of governmental wording and red tape type of speak.
https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/family_reunification.pdf The bottom line I take away from it is that states that are able to fund programs and extra staff have a higher rate of success with reunification. The retraining of parents, showing them how to take care of their children is a main focus requiring hours a week for months and it seems to work well. Especially when there are caseworkers who have been given limited cases which frees them up to invest into these families.
Not only is the government concerned with returning children to their home, they also want to see the children remain at home. High levels of parental training seemed to help this outcome.
But what do we do with the average/usual situation? My grandchildrens' biological mother was very vocal about her opinion that counseling was a joke. A waste of time. This belief was repeated multiple times over the months the children were being phased back into her life before the judge had had enough. I cannot in good conscience believe that the overwhelmed parent who just needs some guidance and help from very well trained and available staff is the rule rather than the exception. My brush with humanity has led me to believe that most folks sink to the bottom of the tide pool because the swimming and going against the flow are just way too much work. I am flabbergasted that so many parents lose their children when they have already lost one, or been warned. If you can't pull yourself together enough to keep the state from removing the child in the first place, after ample warning, why should we assume that you can overcome and suck up and stand up and do the right thing forever in order to get your child back? And then lets add drugs or alcohol or both to the mix. How can we assume that reunification is the usual and best outcome for ALL of these families in crisis?
I know I'm coming from a cynical place. I have seen children get sucker punched. I've seen the look of resignation when a child is disappointed and is compelled to make an excuse for the parent who broke their heart. Again. I have seen parents choose their favorite sedative over the children they carried for nine months, right underneath their heart. If a stranger can love a child better and more (because addiction is horrible, but there come choices to step away or no one ever would) than a biological parent, then can't we come up with an alternative to reunification always and forever?
Change. I've learned to embrace it, ride it out til the end. Sometimes I'm kicking and screaming, other times weeping with my eyes clinched tight. Once in awhile I ride like a dog in a car, head out the window snorting what life has to offer. Mother to young adult children, a marriage of thirty years, and a desert to mountain to valley waltz with God have shaped me into someone I never imagined I'd be. Life is short and I want to live it. Tears, sighs, laughter and change. Every morsel granted to me. Scrambled, shaken or stirred.