Here is what I believe in. Reunifying parents with their kids who are in foster care. Helping families who are going through hard times get past their troubles . So why do I catch myself hoping for quick termination of parental rights?
Today, 4-year-old Jumping Jack came to visit our 8-year-old foster son Watchful and 10-year-old foster daughter Joyful. Jumping Jack is their biological brother who is placed with another foster family. Jumping Jack’s foster mom and I took a quick break to have an adult conversation out on the patio, and she confessed to the same feeling. She had gotten into foster care to help families heal and reunite, but she is doubting the wisdom of reunification in this case.
As I mentioned in Too Early for the Adoption Word, our social worker and guardian ad litem think there’s a good chance the case will move to termination of parental rights. At court yesterday, it was made clear that the county will definitely be seeking to terminate mom’s rights later this year. They are giving dad his chance to fix things, but they are not optimistic that he will be able to turn things around.
Dad diligently shows up for every visit, but then ignores Watchful and Joyful. He expresses concern about the children’s eating habits, but denies that the trauma has negatively impacted the kids. He’s says he’s interested in reunification, but chooses not to call the children. He says he would protect the kids, but blames the children for the abuse and blames the school system for not teaching children how to defend themselves.
This is the kids second time in foster care, and dad received a year’s worth of training back then. Counseling and parenting classes didn’t fix the problem last time, though. Why would counseling and parenting classes work this time?
And so, I am left in a quandary. When I see dad make efforts to turn things around, I want to cheer him on. Yet, when I am reminded of the horrible trauma that happened under his watch and observe some of his current poor choices, I want to help the children move on to a life without him so they can lead safe, healthy, and eventually happy lives.
Every time I have the fleeting thought that maybe Joyful and Watchful would be better off if adoption becomes the plan, a little part of me dies. Those very thoughts violate one of my most deeply held beliefs. But apparently, I have a belief that is stronger than my belief that families should stay together. My most powerful belief, apparently, is that children deserve safety and love above all else.