Foster Parents—Child Welfare’s Unsung Heroes
May is National Foster Care Appreciation Month and in celebration I think it is important to highlight some of the amazing things our foster parents do for our kids’ everyday. Unfortunately, as a society we are often drawn to the negative and perceptions of foster parents can be colored through that lens. We see a story in the media that portrays a family that took advantage of funds for their own purposes or worse even, foster parents that perpetuated a cycle of abuse and neglect from which they were supposed to be saving children.
Whenever I am asked in my line of work with prospective foster-adoptive parents about those situations or horror stories, I feel compelled to point out that those families are anomalies in this field. There are so many others that are providing the day to day care for children because they believe firmly in giving a safe, affirming space for a child to live, thrive and grow. Families that will spend all of the extra time needed to nourish strong attachment; help children grieve the losses from multiple moves and being away from their birth families; and displaying an extreme amount of patience and extra attention needed to address children’s behaviors stemming from the trauma that they have experienced in their young lives.
I am reminded of families that go that extra mile in keeping birth family connections for children. I had a foster family that I worked with who met a birth family at a portrait studio in a mall. They scheduled the birth family visit at the studio so the birth parents could have pictures of their infant son. As well, if it turned out that the child would not be able to reunite with his birth parents, that little boy would have those pictures as a keepsake in his Lifebook.
Those are the little things that make the difference between a good and a great foster parent. If you know a foster parent or caregiver in your community, please take time to acknowledge them for all that they do! To learn more about the foster to adoption process contact us at Sierraff.org.