My post that caused Yondalla to have a mini-rant was written very hastily and thus I need to return to the topic and explain myself further.
If you are aware of the law, every child in foster care is to be assigned one of three plans: reunification, termination of parental rights leading to adoption, and permanent foster care. Of course, I speak in generalities, but in many cases the legal classification "permanent foster care" leaves children remaining legal orphans until they age out of the system when they turn 18.
The thing that every kid needs is one person, whoever that might be, that is committed to them for life. This often happens in an adoption situation... sometimes it does not and disruptions and dissolutions occur. And sometimes it happens when a child is in foster care and the foster parents make that kind of commitment, even though it is not asked or required of them.
The happy ending stories are ones who have had "permanent" foster parents who are willing to make a permanent commitment to them. They are the ones who end up in foster homes with a parent or parents who are involved in their lives long after the checks stop coming. But in a great deal of these situations, children who have begun to attach to foster parents have a rude awakening when they come to that magical age -- whether it is 18, high school graduation, 19, or 21, depending on the state -- and all the sudden the foster parents who in their hearts have become parents to them and done having contact with them. It is my hope that this happens seldom.
When I was quickly bashing "permanent foster care" I was certainly not talking about those people who are doing this kind of care -- but I was talking about the legal situation that lets social workers off the hook in regards to finding them a family. Sometimes the child is as young as 8 or 9 and a judge or social worker determines that they are "unadoptable" and thus they get the Permanent Foster Care status. When this occurs, there is little done to find a permanent parent for the child that will be in their corner for life.
Permanent parents is what these kids need - in whatever form that presents itself. They need to know that there is at least one person in the world that they can always turn to no matter what. I did not mean to suggest that an adoptive parent is the only person who can fulfill that role. It can be a foster parent, a birth relative, a high school coach or mentor -- anyone who is really committed to that child. But legally taking away a child's option to be adopted by assigning them the permanent foster care label prevents them for one of the options.
Last night Leon asked me an interesting question. He said, do you consider my birthsiblings (he said their names) to be your kids? And I said sure. In fact, if they wanted to be adopted by us as adults they could be. These are kids who were assigned permanent foster care status years ago. The court chose not to terminate their parental rights and thus adoption was not a possibility for them. They know they have us because we have told them so, but they could have been legally ours and not separated from their birth siblings. I don't know if they will choose to be part of our lives or the lives of their brothers in the future. Their older sister has a foster mom who has claimed her and will always be her "mom" because of the relationship, regardless of legal status. But their brother may end up with us on holidays... he's planning a military career.
So maybe I have not succeeded in explaining myself... I'd be interested in other's opinions. Maybe I'm opening a can of worms, but what are your opinions?