I’ve definitely been in situations where I learned the backstory, got to know the parents and felt like the kids in my care really didn’t need to be in the system—that being in foster care was more damaging to them than the problems that put them there, and that softer interventions could have been used. There's always more to the story. There's always something else going on—generational trauma, racism. There's just so much impacting the system and it can be very sad and frustrating for foster parents, too. Ultimately, foster parents will always be needed, but I would love for a day to come when I don’t have any calls; to just sit empty and only really be needed in severe moments where family is not able to come in and help and there isn't an opportunity to preserve the family.
As caregivers, we can attend the court proceedings, provided no one objects to us being there, and that’s one of the most emotionally taxing experiences for me. It's difficult to see parents show up and do the work and still not get their kids back quickly. It's difficult to see parents not show up. It's difficult to hear potential lies talked about in court and you can't do anything about it. It's difficult when things are misrepresented. I can't think of a court hearing that wasn't stressful. And if it's stressful for me, I can't imagine how it is for the family.
But there are bright moments, too. We had one reunification where the parent did need help for substance abuse issues—they got the help and did the work in a really genuine way. The court agreed and returned the child, and I had developed a really nice relationship with the parent. The parent acknowledged what we had gone through, too, and how we would miss the child. It was sad to say goodbye, but it was such a beautiful reunification and I was so happy to see that circumstances had improved for the family.