Tonight, we met a panel of young adults that were in foster care as children who spoke about their experiences in the system. It was very insightful to hear their perspective and to be able to ask them questions. The biggest points we gained were:
- Communicate with the children and Listen...really listen to them. They've likely not been in a family where someone really cares about who they are and what their interests are.
- Look for things you have in common with them to help them feel more comfortable and like they fit in
- Let the child know that its ok to talk openly about their past and their birth family, as well as what is not ok to talk about.
And to think that there are people out there who are fostering just for a paycheck. It's very sad for these children who need someone to just love them, listen to them, and care about them. And the stories I've heard about foster homes that are probably not much better than the homes these children came from. How do those people get approved??? If only there were more families like the ones we grew up in who were willing to foster or adopt these children. I heard a statistic the other day that if every Christian in the world were to adopt just one child, every child would have a home and there would be extra Christians left over. Just think of the impact that could have!
Ok, so I will get back on track now. The rest of the session was just spent educating us on neglect and abuse and how to parent a child who has a history of that kind of trauma. Lots to think about. Definitely no spanking allowed!
On another side note...we did find out some more about adopting and staying in contact with the birth family. The two social workers who ran the session tonight have actually adopted from foster care and it turns out that they don't have contact with the birth families...for various reasons. It really depends on the birth parents and how willing and accepting they are of the adoption. and whether or not the relationship would be appropriate depending on the situation. We also learned that there are different meanings of "open adoptions." For a lot of cases, it's simply sending pictures of the child, artwork from the child, cards, etc. via the social worker, and vice versa...not necessarily visiting with the parents on a regular basis. Also, the birth parents are not given any identifying information about the adoptive family and whether or not that is disclosed to them is up to us. That was comforting.