This guest blog post was written by Tina Graber.
The Huffington Post posted an article written by Jiyer on January 15, 2013 as part of the series "30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days". The article is written by a woman who shares her and her husband's both joyful and painful personal experience as parents in a foster to adopt, or concurrent planning program.
The article is a realistic portrayal of many families participating in foster to adopt programs across the United States. Jiyer describes the emotional ups and downs consistent with many parents who have chosen the difficult job of assisting families with reunification while at the same time preparing to adopt the child if it does not work. Concurrent planning is an important tool when considering the best interest of the child; however, it is essential to consider the experiences and struggles of the resource parents in order to support them as well.
It is important for families interested in foster to adopt to have realistic expectations before agreeing to care for a child. A common myth about concurrent planning is that parents will eventually be able to adopt the child they are fostering. Although there are many cases where the child can be adopted, that is not always the case. In reality, the goal for many foster children is reunification with their biological parents and if they are able to make the changes necessary, many children are returned home. Through Jiyer's experience she shows the emotions and struggle that many resource families go through before they are eventually able to adopt a child, who many times may not be the first child placed in their home.
It is important for resource families to be aware of the reality that they may not be able to adopt the first child placed in their home. They may experience significant grief and loss if the child is returned to the parent's care. This is why it is important, as Jiyer demonstrated, for resource families to develop a support system and coping strategies as they take on this significant role.
Many resource families will have conflicting feelings throughout the process because the roles of the job can often feel conflicting. Jiyer's words demonstrate this so well, "But I was also torn. I was rooting for Rayna [biological mother to Nina], yet I was growing so attached to Nina -- little Nina, the first child we got to hold and love, the child who came to us during peak bonding months in her life and who bonded so closely with us."
It can also be a deeply rewarding experience for foster parents to make a positive connection with a child that could potentially last a lifetime, even if they are not able to adopt. It is also possible and in fact encouraged by the Minnesota Department of Human Services that resource parents partner with birth parents to support them in parenting. Through Jiyer's words, we are able to see the power of intentional human relationships, all for the love of a child.
For more information:
Jiyer. (2013, January 14). Saying goodbye to the foster child I feel in love with. Huffington Post. Link to article here.
Minnesota Department of Human Services. Practice guide for concurrent permanency planning.