Last night during our class, we received a little more information on what our foster kid(s) interaction with their parent(s) will be like. The goal in the State of Michigan is for a parent’s parental rights to be determined with one year – eighteen months of their child being removed from their home. That said, many cases go on much longer (up to five years).
Within seven to ten days of a child being removed from their parent’s custody, the agency will set up a visit. I cannot even imagine how confusing this whole situation must be for a child. When they go to this visit, the last time they have seen their parent(s) was when they were taken from the home and now they are visiting them at the agency’s building. After this, the frequency and level of visits is determined. Generally, the first three months will be weekly, one hour supervised visits at the agency. This means that a foster care worker will observe the parent and child during these visits. He/she will write down what they talk about, how they interact and how the parent reacts to the child’s behavior. They will also make note of if the parent arrives for the visit and if they are on time. If parents make positive changes, their level and frequency of visits may change after three months to provide more freedom. If they do not progress, they will likely remain as supervised visits.
These visits can be very difficult for children. We watched a video last night that interviewed seasoned foster parents. One woman said that when she took her foster son to visits, he would rage in the car all the way home. Another woman said that after her foster daughter’s visits with her mom, she would just cry and cry and did not want anyone to comfort her.
Even though we deeply desire to adopt someday, we only want to adopt children whose parents are not capable of caring for them. This means that when we are placed with children, we need to do all that we can to strengthen their family relationships and at the same time love them as though they are ours. So, yes, this is going to be difficult.
When children are in our home, we cannot talk negatively about their birth parent(s). Even if they don’t show up for visits and when they don’t seem to make any progress. Even when we are frustrated with them and with the things they have or have not done. In many cases, these people are just as lost and needy. And Jesus loves them too.
At some point, the court will determine if reunification will happen or if the parents rights will be terminated. Each case is different and so many factors come in to play in deciding if long-term contact (even after adoption) will be beneficial for the kids.