Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Reunification in Foster Care

Reunification is something I have heard a little too many times in my relatively short stint as a foster mom. You want my definition of the word?

Reunification: returning foster children to their biological parents no matter what, if it is at all possible, no matter if this is in the best interest of the child. This is the goal of the courts and child welfare system.

So reunification with the parent is always the initial goal of the system. Because of this, many children remain in foster care for years while they wait for their parents to show the courts that they can care for their children. Despite the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act in 1997, the average child remains in foster care for over 28 months!

This is too long in my opinion. IMHO of course. . . If the parents can't show steps of being able to rehabilitate in a reasonable time period, their rights should be terminated so the children can find permanency in an adoptive home.

For a longer, and probably more unbiased definition of reunification go to a great resource called the Adoption Encyclopedia.

D's social worker has asked our family to foster, then adopt, then only foster, then adopt after failed reunification plans, and now we are back to just fostering. Now the social worker wants to return the kids and has asked us to help with reunification plans, but be ready to adopt please, since we are the contingency plan.

Yeah, I am sick of the word reunification, and I don't like being a contingency plan much either. But hey, being a backup plan is better than not being part of the plan at all.

I will take what I can get at this point. Friends ask me how I can do this, not knowing if D and J are staying or going.

I have to hope.


Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man,
all human wisdom is summed up in these two words, - 'Wait and hope.'

Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo