Lately I"ve been receiving several emails (and it's OK that you are sending them, by the way, that's not my point here) that ask me about specific situations where the system is involved in the lives of families. Specific situations. And questions are asked of me like, "What is going to happen if" and "What will be like to parent this child" and "can this state do this, or can that state do this."
And I was so discouraged last night (not because of any one particular situation but because of the volume of multiple situations) that I mentioned to Bart I should just have an auto reply that says:
"When we are dealing with the child welfare system there are no answers. I do not have a crystal ball. I cannot predict the future. The system is full of fallible people and I can't tell you what they will or won't do because every situation is unique. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful."
But that would be rude. And it's not really how I feel completely. But it is a very complex system and often the wrong thing happens.
I am more than willing to give my opinions -- but I have no way of predicting the future in this situation -- whenever I try to I end up being wrong. Every situation is so different and all of the players are different and sometimes, unfortunately, there's only so much any one person can do.
So, why do I work in "the system?" Because there are times when we as a system get it right. There are "happily ever after" (or reasonably happy) stories. There are kids who find permanency and who have been given opportunties (check out The Adoption Counselor's excellent blog entry about the family verses failure model).
Being involved in all this is really hard stuff. But it also is really important stuff. And there are rewards like no others.
So even though there might not be answers, there is still hope in every situation. As I tell Bart nearly every day, "The story can't be over yet when our oldest kid is only 24." :-)
So hold on to hope with me.....