I don't even know where to start. I have been an advocate for children in foster care for years. I have been frustrated with what doesn't work in the foster care system and saddened by the impact of those short comings to the children that we are supposed to be protecting. In an earlier post, The Importance of Connections, I discussed the difficult decisions that social services has to make when it comes to separating siblings. There are no easy answers. Truly, siblings are separated because social services has no choice. Trust me, no social worker WANTS to separate kids but it happens all the time.
This country is in a crisis with these kids in state care and most people are not aware or believe that it doesn't pertain to them. I know if feels like I am beating you with this information but I know there are a many of you that read my blog and yet I know that I have not yet made a difference in the number of people stepping forward to love these children. I know not everybody is cut out to take on some of these kids but for 12 years I have tried to help recruit families and somedays I wonder if I am making a difference at all.
Again, I don't even know where to start...
I need to stop answering the phone. Lets start there. Two weeks ago I got a phone call and was asked to take a 3 year old boy. We had just accepted K8 & K9 as a placement and with 7 kids in the home and 2 married and out of the home, we felt right in saying "no." As always, it is hard to know that I just turned away an amazing child that has the ability to do great things in this world if SOMEBODY would just show unconditional love, commitment and stability.
I hope somebody is looking for him...waiting to love him, smother him with kisses, and wipe his tears. I hope there is somebody that wants to hold him when he is scared and help him with his homework. I hope that he isn't just another kid that gets bounced through the system only to age out at 18 and end up as one of the homeless statistics or worse...one more criminal in jail. Harsh words I know. I imagine that you are thinking "come on! He is 3! Somebody will adopt him. He won't be one of the ones bounced around."
Ya right. Remember, K5 was 4 when she was taken into care. We did not find her until she was 11. And yes, she went through several homes first. She is an amazing young woman and I missed out on the first 11 years of her life. Those were spent with somebody else. Somebody that couldn't provide stability and permanency.
Yesterday, the phone rang again. I am still in shock. Speechless really. From the moment we heard about K8 & K9, we were told that they had a sibling that had been separated from them. That sibling was placed immediately into an adoptive placement. There were very good reasons for this to happen and all the kids have made tremendous progress during the time they were in care. But as happens all too often in the system, something changed. Something so big that now that sibling is in need of a new home. Seriously. I have GOT to stop answering the phone. "So, I know it is a wild and crazy idea and you don't have to give an answer right now...but I wanted to ask you something so that you could think about it over the weekend. Is there any chance you would be interested in reuniting the siblings and adopting all three or at the very least provide temporary care to this adorable 2 year old while we find another family?" asked the social worker.
Seriously? How can I ever justify saying no? How can I look K8 & K9 in the eyes and say "we had a chance to adopt your sister too but we said no." We are an enormous family by today's standards. We stick out in a crowd and are starting to look "old" for raising children in this age group. People talk about us behind our backs and yet we are selected as the best option for this young toddler and my 2 youngest children. Social services knows when they have a family that will do what it takes to make it work. They know that this child now will have a failed adoption attached to her file and that will play into the minds of future prospective placements. People will wonder if it is the child's fault and if she is somehow defective. The child is TWO for crying out loud! How can this be a 2 year olds fault? Still think there is no crisis here in the US foster care system?
There is a lot that will have to happen before I will know for sure if social services will reunite the children in our home. Safety comes first as always...as it should. But I already love this child and will fight for her. She deserves it.