Part Two: The Child’s Perspective
Why Is This Happening to Me?
While parenting is a rewarding experience full of funny moments and great accomplishments, it no doubt presents challenges most of the time on a daily basis. Kids! They love to eat, snack and eat again. They change their clothes, leaving piles of questionable laundry, make a mess of their toys and complain about being bored. Right?
Even if you haven’t raised children yet, you likely have watched other children or cared for a relative or listened to a parent-friend vent about their adventures and know some of the pressures of parenting. You might know the relief it brings when someone else watches your child or you might be that relief person for someone. Some families, unfortunately, do not have that support or “village” to help them. Some are single parents facing other adversities like poverty, homelessness, substance dependency, domestic violence, human trafficking, or worse. Much of this stemming from the fact that they never had the opportunity to deal with their own history of abuse and neglect. The more a parent experiences these risk factors there is a stronger likelihood that their children are at risk for abuse or neglect too.
A child develops a bond with their caregivers as a means of survival.
That bond can still be strong even if the child is being abused or neglected. A child may be experiencing what we know to be abuse or neglect, but he or she may not understand it as such. To them, it is being absorbed into their minds as normalcy. Thus, when a mandated reporter, an extended family member or even a neighbor makes a report and the child is removed, they experience it as traumatic. The child is being removed from their home, their belongings and the people they know and love. When it happens like this, the children are the ones who are put in a new, strange place.
Although this may be a place where people are smiling, welcoming and doing everything possible to make them feel better, the child is likely to have difficulty with trust and will need time to let the realities of what has happened to them sink-in. For most of the children in foster care, they are hoping this will end soon and life will return to “normal” because it is the only thing they know. In their new situation, there are now new rules and expectations—maybe new in the sense that they never had accountability before. A child who had their whole life changed because of the adults in their life making poor decisions or just not having the resources or support to provide for them adequately, may feel somehow that they are being punished. They may be focusing on what they did wrong to cause all of this turmoil to happen in their lives.
Children in these circumstances need as much support as they can get.
This is where the foster family can really have an impact for good on the lives of the children in their care. A foster family can do so much more than provide a home for a child. A foster parent can be an advocate for a child. They can foster more than the child; they can become partners for good with the child’s family.
They can create lifelong connections with a family who didn’t have a village, who didn’t have someone who really cared or who was there for them.
It’s true, parents who have had their children removed from their care are angry. They have been called out, held accountable by a court of law for their actions (or lack thereof). This is embarrassing and humiliating. Some need more time than others to deal with this and some are successful and others are not. Foster families who choose to come alongside a family in these conditions stand in the gap like no one else, no agency, no service or program can, uniting to help the child in the best ways available.
Each case is unique and not one worker would likely be able to predict the outcome for each situation but could you be the one to stand in the gap? In the gap for a child who unfortunately lost so much for the choices of the adults in their life? Thank you!