Fostering connections makes adoption easier

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Author: 
Tara Webber
Source: 
Focus on Adoption magazine

Although some people questioned her decision to keep her children connected to their loving foster parents, Tara Webber knew it was the right thing to do. After all, why end a relationship that had been so good? Don’t children need as many loving people in their lives as possible?

If I thought solely of the best interest of my girls, I had no reason to break the bond between their foster family and every reason to do what I could do to encourage that relationship.

When I first met my daughters six years ago, they had been in a stable foster placement for just over two years. At the time, I was their school counsellor and it was obvious to me that both girls enjoyed predictability, joy, trust, and love in their foster home.

My girls can recount several different caregivers, but it is only these last foster parents that they built a strong bond with; perhaps because of the length of time spent with them, but also because of the care they received in the home.

When it came time to adopt the girls, I carefully considered the effects that moving would have on them. I considered that I was possibly causing them added stress and loss by taking them away from a loving family. I was also worried about breaking yet another attachment and wondered how many times they could be taken out of a environment they considered home before they just stopped believing in stability, or gave up entirely on the idea of family.

I came to the conclusion that just because I was adopting them, didn’t mean they had to lose their foster parents. Of course, it’s not possible for every adoptive family to maintain such bonds, but I knew that I could find a way to keep them involved in the children’s lives.

Knowing this, I decided, prior to the adoption process being finalized, to speak candidly with the foster parents about my concerns and to ask what, if any, relationship they would like to have with the kids. They gladly agreed to be involved and for as long as possible in the girls’ lives. I asked them if they would be willing to provide after school care to the girls if I kept them in the same school. They eagerly agreed, and the school agreed to keep the children enrolled even though the girls were no longer in the school catchment area.

When it came time to tell the girls they would be joining our family, it was such a relief to be able to answer the questions that were inevitable such as “What about Larry and Diane?” and “When will we see them?” I know it gave the girls tremendous comfort to know that after being moving into our home on a Saturday they would be visiting their old home the next week.

Many people, including my own family, questioned my decision to keep the girls so connected to their foster home. People asked “Won’t that make it harder for the girls to attach to you?” and “Will they be able to view you as parents if they still see the foster parents so often?“ I didn’t know the answers, but I did know that it felt right to surround the children with as many people who would love them, teach them, and cherish them as possible.

Six years later, I feel that both the girls and myself were blessed to have childcare that we all knew would be loving, healthy, and stable. It has been the ultimate arrangement. Last year, my oldest daughter started secondary school and the youngest will no longer need after school care. Despite these changes, our relationship with the foster parents will continue—they have become part of our extended family and will hopefully be in our lives to attend graduations and weddings.

The decision to maintain the relationship with the foster parents in no way inhibited the girls from bonding with me or my husband. In fact, I believe that it helped them feel cared for and respected, and gave them the opportunity to outgrow one relationship and grow into another at a pace that was somewhat in their control.

Hats off to all of you wonderful foster parents who truly understand and demonstrate why it takes a community to raise a child!

Fast facts on fostering

  • There are nine thousand BC children in foster care and 3,600 foster parents. There is a chronic shortage of foster parents and respite foster families in BC.
  • When a child enters foster care the aim is to return them to their birth parents as soon as possible. If it is determined that they can not return to their parents, other options, including adoption, will be explored.
  • Though there is a monthly maintainence payment for each foster child, fostering is not employment.
  • Around one third of the children that are adopted from the Ministry of Children and Family Development are adopted by their foster parents.