I know a lot about the foster system these days. How its set up, why it exists, how it breathes, how it protects the kids. And I get it all. I get that these kids need a safe space to stay while their parents need time to figure things out. I get that everything is set up for the best interest of the kids. And that there are time frames and plans that ensure they wind up somewhere permanent within two years…whether that’s back home or some place new (and ultimately better). And why wouldn’t it be about the kids? They need people looking out for them seeing as how they can’t stand up for or defend themselves at that time in their lives.
But with these kids comes their parents who are the reason these kids are in the foster system. And these parents usually need help. They are asked to clean up their act, find better places to live, provide what they weren’t providing, change the way they raise their kid, quit yelling, quit hitting, quit drinking, quit anything addictive. Simply put…they are asked to be a better parent.
And this is where the system fails.
These parents have no idea how to do the things they are being asked to do. They don’t know how to quit or change the behaviors because these behaviors (or faults) didn’t start with them. Shit, who knows how many generations these behaviors have been in place. These parents probably come from generations of addicts and abusers and neglecters. So of course they have NO idea how to change their behaviors…especially change them in the short time frame they are asked to do so. And while the system offers up all sorts of money to protect and assist these kids, there is no assistance for these parents. No classes offered, no financial assistance…nothing. There are parents out there with no high school educations, no drivers licenses, no jobs, and basically no idea how to find themselves a lawyer. How the hell are they supposed to shape up with no basic life skills in place?
These parents are asked to put in place what i have spent the last 15 years of my life putting in place…they don’t have 15 years. And no matter how much i want to be angry at a parent for the fact their child wound up in my home, i can’t not feel sorry for the her. For while I’m taking care of her children, at least I have the ability and skills to do that. She’s trying to figure out how to negotiate a situation she is completely unequipped to negotiate.