Fete Lifestyle Magazine September 2017 Family Issue - Page 45

We inhabit a deeply divided world. This Us versus Them polarization is even evident in perceptions regarding the foster care system. What stirred me the most during my discussions with the foster families, was the level of astounding grace and immense empathy they extended to the biological families. We presume that foster parents must be in diametric opposition to the biological parents, and from my conversations with these parents, this is simply not the case. According to the U.S. Deptartment of Health and Human Services, the “number one goal of foster care is reunification with the family,” therefore parties collaborate to ensure the best outcome for the child. This ideal was exemplified by the families I met. The Thompsons shared, “We grieve when a child leaves, but remind ourselves that being a foster parent isn’t about us, it’s about the children. We are choosing to feel the heartache, for their sake.” And the Rieskes corroborate, "We carry this cross, so they don't have to." While Val elaborates, “The goal of foster care is to foster the whole family, not just the kids. It is bittersweet when the kiddos leave—but I keep in mind these kids will grow up with their family.” Val adds that goodbyes are harrowing, whether they involve foster children returning to their biological families, or even when they involve foster children leaving their biological families. She relived a hearing, animosity towards the biological mother was coupled with compassion. One part of her wanted the biological mother incarcerated indefinitely, the other part wanted to love “that woman” with all of her being. Her emotions depict the complexity of the foster story, one of tragedy and beauty.