I am going to be monitoring comments for a while, but I want to talk about why. There have been some harsh comments left here. They have not been directed at me, but rather at someone for whom I have been sympathetic.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Well, one comment directed to me was perhaps harsh, but also entirely fair. I expressed sympathy for foster parents who had to let a child go and did not express any sympathy for the child who was about to lose yet another family. That commenter was correct, and I offer no defense. I wish I had given expression to my feelings and thought for not only the foster parents but the also for the child, whose welfare is the point of what we do, and for the child's parent who, from what I have read, loves his son and is struggling to be the parent again.
Comments left here regarding the other foster parents I think have been too harsh, and I am sorry that I brought negative attention to them.
I think that as foster parents we have to be able to take that sort of negative attention. We are the only members of this system who chose to play a part. The children and their parents certainly did not chose this. Parents were told that they were not good enough to take care of their kids, that those kids would go somewhere safe, to someone who could and would take care of them. That someone who was supposed to do a better job was us.
When parents are told that we are better caretakers for their children than they are, and then we disrupt a placement for whatever reasons, those children's parents are not unreasonable in their fury. How was this better than being with them?
Of course, I cannot say that it is.
There are so many cases, and it is easy for all of us, natural parents, foster parents, and adoptive parents to see all cases as similar to ours. I have given care to boys whose parents were in jail, dead, or, in Gary's case, have refused to take them home. I have no doubt that they love their children fiercely, but providing them with care is not something they could do, at least not at the time. It is fairly easy for me to see the complexity of the decisions that the parents of my children have had to make. I have sympathy for them. I know their emotions towards me are complex. The children we both love have it the hardest.
I think I understand Gary's father's pain, and the pain of the foster parents who have asked for removal, because I too have been in the position of concluding that the only way to keep one child safe was for another child to move.
Gary's biological, real, natural father had to make that decision. He and his wife decided that the safety of her daughters required Gary's removal. I believe that Gary could now safely live with his siblings, but it is not my call to make. His father, who has also sent his biological daughter away to live with extended family, has chosen his wife, her daughters and the younger kids they have together. I understand that at the same time I know it hurts Gary.
I asked for both Ann and Frankie to be moved. Both of them had wanted to leave. Ann wanted to go back to her previous foster home (where she had lived for 7 years) and Frankie knew the only way to get out of the school he hated was to move. Neither of them knew at the time that one of the reasons they were getting what they told the social worker they wanted was that I was concerned about the effect they were having on the other children. Even so, those failures on my part, my inability to give those kids what they needed, are still the most painful periods of my history of doing care.
And yeah, poor, pitiful me. Though I know other foster parents who have gone through that will understand and sympathize with me, I don't expect foster alumni or parents who have had their children remove by protective services to have any sympathy for me at all. Why would they? I chose this. I was supposed to be able to do it. Children and their parents were told that they would be placed with me, and people like me, because we were better able to care for those children than their natural parents. I feel bad because I could not live up to my ideal of myself as a rescuer of children? Well, boo hoo.
Of all the people caught up in this system who hurt, my pain is the least.
Of course that is why we foster parents offer support to each other. We should not expect the world to view our pain as the most important. When it does, when the tragedy or our lives is portrayed as more important than the pain of the children we care for, something is out of whack.
So all of this is to say that I understand the comments that have been left here. I disagree that the foster parents for whom I have sympathy are bad people. I think think they are good people, and I think they have tried hard to keep all the children in their home safe. I believe them when they say that are doing what they must. I know their pain is real, and I want to offer them comfort.
And at the same time, I do not expect that parents of children in foster care or children in foster care will have sympathy for that pain.
Anyway, I am going to be leaving in a few days and I am nervous that the blog could be hijacked by people on both sides. For the next few days, feel free to discuss the issue here. Feel free to express your feelings. As long as you show respect for others, your comment will be published. Starting Monday no comments will be published for about two weeks.
I have more I want to say about all this, but it will have to wait.