A few weeks ago my wife and I sat in a courtroom along the back wall and listened as several individuals gave their opinion about a case involving four precious children in our home. We were silent spectators.
Well, not exactly silent. My wife made several beneath her breath comments as the children’s attorney made inaccurate statements about the case and the children. It became very apparent while we were sitting in that court room, that we were in fact, just the foster parents.
The judge had an opinion. Even though he hears hundreds of cases and has never met the children.
The CPS worker had an opinion. Even though their contact is limited to one visit a month and most of their information is provided by us.
The biological parents and their attorneys had an opinion. Even though the only reason we were sitting in that room at that moment is because somewhere along the line they failed miserably and needed us to take care of their children.
The children’s attorney had an opinion. Even though during the 26 month process he has never met the children, nor us.
And yet, there we were, sitting against the back wall of the court room, spectators of all that was occurring regarding the four children whom we feel we know best.
We get it. Biological families matter. What we are not sure everyone else gets is this, foster parents matter too.
As not only a foster parent, but a director within a foster care agency I can recount many stories from foster parents who go to a court hearing or a permanency meeting without a voice. I can go through several cases where a foster parent was opposed to reunification and that somehow made them the bad person. When in fact, it just makes them a parent who cares. I could tell you about time after time when a CPS worker has pulled the “We are CPS–Kings of Child Welfare” card on one of the families I serve. But, I do not need to tell you all of those stories.
What I want to tell you is this—-We are not just the foster parents.
We are humans who have opened our hearts, our homes, and our families to serve children who need it.
We are moms and dads who take parenting seriously.
We are individuals who have real emotions that we can’t turn off just because the case is going a different direction.
We are people who do the messy work of foster care, long after a home visit, therapy appointment or court hearing has ended.
We are advocates for the children in our home.
We strive for their best.
We care deeply and passionately about the children in our home. Our lack of agreement with an outcome does not make us wrong, it just means we are passionate about the little lives at stake. Because to us, it is not just another case, but it is a child with dreams, passions, fears, hurts, wants, needs and someone has to fight for and protect that child.
We are not against the biological parent. We just don’t have as much time to be worried about them, because we have their child to take care of, and frankly, that is more important.
So, Judge, Case Worker, Attorney, and other important people, next time you’re making big decisions, please remember we are not “just the foster parent”, but we are the very people who know the kids the best and we care greatly about what happens in their case. Even if we don’t agree, our voice matters.
– the Foster Parents