In Part One, I discussed the problems the foster care systems faces. In Part Two, I discussed what can be done to make the lives of foster children better. Today I will explore what happened to real fathers and mothers.
Real father’s follow their hearts. It may be his friends tell them to spank his unruly son but true father’s trust themselves. And his heart tells him spanking is not right; his heart tells him his son needs connection, not violence.
Real mother’s follow their instincts. It may be all the mothers in her mother’s group bottle-feed. But she wants to breastfeed and the true mother will breastfeed. If it is physically or medically impossible, she will pump milk for her baby because she knows it is what she and her baby need.
Parenting is an instinct you are born with. It tells you what to do with your child; it tells you to feed them after they enter this world, change their diapers, and care for them as they grow. You cannot learn to parent by taking a class because parenting is not a lesson you can learn through study.
Too many parents deny their instincts. Breastfeeding is lost in view of the bottle, though many mothers still do and have begun to breastfeed. Parents tell themselves they are being strong training their baby to cry itself back to sleep. Parents tell themselves they are doing right by placing their child in a crib, but I believe instead of doing good, cribs encourage separation and leech away empathy as parents grow more distant from their child too soon. How else might a mother tolerate her child crying itself to sleep?
Many foster parents view younger children to be among the easiest to handle. Yet parents who foster babies are often inpatient and swiftly return a baby to the system after too-long a crying fit. If you foster a baby, treat it with the patience you would your own and comfort it; love it. If you are unwilling to do that, do not hurt another life by fostering a baby you do not care to handle. Young minds remember; even if it is the distant, blurry memories of an infant mind, a child will remember abandon and hurt, and carry that with them as they grow.
Adopt a baby and you can save it from a life of trauma. Perhaps its mother is a drug addict, prostitute, or a woman who does not want her baby. Perhaps the birth mother herself suffers or suffered from domestic abuse. Perhaps she was raped. Many are the mothers who despise their child and begin to abuse them through hate.
Within the foster system, there are demons: men and women whose homes are far from safe, yet places where many children are further hurt before being ejected into a damaged adulthood.
But, since there are demons, there are also angels: men and women who have created safe havens for dozens of children and guided dozens more through childhood into a healthy adulthood.
Foster parents are forbidden to hit or spank foster children (this does not stop abuse from occurring) but, once a child is adopted, this law is waived. In some instances, I believe the law encourages those foster parents who abide by the law to find patience within themselves since spanking is not within their parenting toolbox.
In other instances, the adoption of a child can lead to parents who spank because they do not realize simply loving a child is reason enough not to spank.
I hope that, with more people looking to adopt babies and children, the number of children in the foster care system will dwindle. I hope foster parents will learn to sit down and talk through challenging behavior and grief with their foster children and give them the time they need to heal from past trauma. I hope foster parents will be people who care from their hearts and can give children the homes and support they need to grow healthily.
And, even if it seems heartless, I hope parents who give their children up into the foster system come back from rehabilitation or recover from poor relationships and realize that perhaps their children are better off with a new family.
I believe many mothers and fathers became parents through mistakes or misconceptions and that it would be better for them to pass their children on to happier homes then to cling to children they cannot or will not care for instead of fighting for little ones for the sake of blood alone.
I believe it is better, if one is an addict or unstable parent, to let a child go rather than force them to be dragged between foster homes and home, unless home is a place that the parent is willing to fight to change into a safe and healthy place.
We do not need foster parents who abuse and neglect the children they take in. We do not need foster families who add to the trauma foster children suffer.
What we need are aware, intentional people with a place in their hearts for lost children, and the willingness to help those children heal with love and peace. We need people who are fostering children not for money but for kindness.
We need foster parents who foster because they want to help children.
We need people who adopt children not as a last resort but out of love for children and family. And every day, when I read news of a baby or toddler being adopted, I catch a glimpse of such a person. They are not lost but they are hard to find.
Photo by Rajesh Rajput on Unsplash