Hooligan Zoo

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“Those People”

on October 6, 2017

I was once speaking at a PRIDE foster parent training course, and I usually like to hit a few main points that I wish had been hit for us, or things that I’ve just come to realize over the years that we were fostering.

I was commenting on how important it is to create a kind and caring relationship with the biological parents of the kids in our care.  How it was considerate, how it made things easier for all of us, and how it’s important to remember that these are not OUR children.

A woman at the meeting commented that she didn’t understand why we would go to such effort, that the bio parents should simply be grateful to us for caring for their children.

When I explained that these parents love their children, she was disbelieving and dismissive.

I was floored.

At the audacity.

Of this woman, making blanket statements from her position of privilege on people who had not been given the same advantages as she had been.

“Those people” love their children?  Then why are they taken away?  Why don’t they do what’s best?

And here’s the thing, friends.  Hear me when I say this.  Those people, those daughters, sons, aunts, uncles, those people, those mothers and fathers, they love their children as much as you love yours.

Zayda’s first visit with her mom after she came into care was eye opening.  Her mom’s first comment was, “Oh, she’s so clean!  She’s in foster care, and she’s so clean!”

My heart was absolutely shattered.  This young woman, this woman who herself had grown up in foster care was shocked that a foster parent would provide a home where her child would be clean.  What must she herself have experienced to be surprised at that?

Another foster parent friend of mine had an experience with the parent of one of her babes that was fairly similar.  My friend was in her van traveling with the parents of the babe.  The mom commented that CAS had apprehended her child because of neglect.

My friend asked her why she thought that was, what she thought that CAS was calling neglect.

The mom responded that her baby was NOT neglected.  That she herself KNEW what neglect was, that she herself had LIVED neglect, and that she was providing so much more than she had for herself when she grew up.

So, my thought is this.  As parents, as people who have grown up even in typical “good enough” homes, we are always striving to do more and to do better than our own parents did with us.  What if these parents, these parents who lose their children, what if they are also doing their very best to do better than what they were given?  They are leveling up from what they know, from how they were raised, but that level was so low, leveling up is simply not good enough.

How can anyone say that those people do not love their children?

That those people don’t deserve help?

That those people should just know better?

Do they not deserve the same advantages, the same opportunities to learn, to fail, to try again, that we all have had?

When I talk about fostering, people are always surprised at how vehemently I defend the parents of the children that we’ve had.  Of all of the children we have welcomed into our home, only one child did not have parents who also grew up in foster homes.

How can we expect adults who have not known healthy attachment to be able to attach in healthy ways to their children?

We all know that the system is broken, and that (most of) the people working within the system are doing their absolute level best for the children.  If foster care worked, we would not have generations of people growing up in the system.

We had one father who once told me his entire heartbreaking life story.  Afterwards, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “no one has ever listened to that and not blamed me.”

Parents deserve our compassion.  And by giving them our compassion and grace, we allow them to see a little bit of what being good enough can be.  And that may be something that they have never before experienced in their lives.  How is that not good for their children?

 

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let each of us please his neighbour for his good, to build him up.  For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”                                   Romans 15:1-3

 

**disclaimer:  there are absolutely cases where people have children and mentally and physically abuse them who do not deserve a second chance.  That is an entirely different story.  In our case, and I think in the majority of cases when young children are apprehended, it is because of neglect, where the parents do not know how or what to provide for their children.**


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