Almost in all cases, across all generations, you can’t cross a baby with out smiling, cooing, squealing with delight, etc. I suppose it depends on who you are, but it can almost be universally acknowledged that babies are most beloved.
Working in foster care over the last several years, I have come across many a prospective foster parent who wanted to care for a baby. If I had to guess, I would say, 80% baby, 20% ‘other’, and who could blame them?! Here is a baby pic of my Jack, just to demonstrate.
Cute, right? Don’t tell him I did that.
As I was looking at the CPS data book for Fiscal Year 2016, I wanted to see what the largest need was, and how my agency could help. Here is what I found:
That sure is a lot of babies! I realize you can use numbers and statistics in ways to suit your own argument, but I wanted to demonstrate these numbers because well, they tell us nothing except that there is a large amount of kids in our area finding themselves in foster care. And I don’t need a chart to tell me that… I get emails every day requesting placement for kids of all ages (but teenagers predominately seem to have trouble finding a home, but this post is about babies, so we will leave that topic just for a moment.)
When I think about babies in foster care and the parents that want to take care of them I think: Adoption. You were probably thinking the same thing, but the permanency of a baby isn’t necessarily going to be adoption. It’s a misconception made by many that a baby in foster care will automatically mean the primary caregiver will lose their parental rights, and that just isn’t so.
The adoption of a child in foster care requires first, the dismantling of a family in which the child came, and that’s some SERIOUS action that must be made by important decision-makers, up to the law, judges, juries, etc.
We all must stop and think about that. For good-hearted, good-intentioned folk it’s easy in our zealous to protect children to forget all this background work that must happen before adoption. That’s why it is so important to think SURVIVAL.
Foster care is temporary out of home care. Temporary is the keyword here. That’s our first role as foster parents. To protect the child right now. Looking too far ahead of ourselves leads to frustration and disappointment. Foster parents are our number one, front-line, ‘worker’, if-you-will, that is the ultimate advocate and voice for the baby you are hypothetically holding at this very moment. That’s an important job. That requires a level of sacrifice and selflessness that only you can give willingly.
I might be a fortune teller, but something I know you have probably thought at least once while reading this:
I will never be able to give the baby back; I will be too attached.
I would say, your thinking is on the right track, but let’s consider for a moment that you protected that baby, you helped that baby survive and thrive, and while you are doing that, their parent is getting themselves clean, they are finding a job, they are finding a home, they are educating themselves, and now they are ready, and you present to them their healthy baby. Maybe you crossed paths with this parent at a couple of treatment plan meetings; envision yourself as a support and mentor to a parent that needed interim help.
Helping to put a family back together again is probably the most magnificent gift you could give a person.
I just gave you your best-case scenario. And now, you’re probably thinking, it doesn’t always work that way. You would be correct! What I am talking about is intent of your heart. First, we must try to put back together what is broken, and sometimes that means reuniting babies and parents, and sometimes that means adoption. Both end in a beautiful way, but the journey there takes courage!
I have realized over the years, that when people decide to become foster parents, it seems to be a very personal decision that must be made within before acting. It’s an attitude, it’s a willingness to open your life up to a child, open your life up to an agency, open your life up to many people, without certainty a lot of the time, but the reward gained is of intrinsic value and is something I would not be able to aptly describe here, it would have to be discovered through action and experiencing for yourself!