Saturday, December 01, 2012

Life Raft

Since I post occasionally about our challenges in the Foster Care system, I thought I would explain about the "life raft."

Each family has its own life raft. Our family has a little extra room in our raft. Around us in the water are other rafts. Some of full and overflowing other are rather empty. Some rafts on not too sea worthy. Some people are floating alone in the water or in rafts on the verge of sinking.

So we take children from a sinking raft into our raft. We have to be careful. We don't want to do anything that jeopardizes the safety of those already in our life raft. However, it is ok if those in our raft become a little uncomfortable as long as our raft is still sound and our passengers are safe.

Now, once our little visitor is in our raft, there still is the problem of the rest of his family who is in a sinking raft. For many of them, it is all they know.  Sinking boats and drowning are just the way things are. Some really want to fix their raft, but it is very hard because they have never seen it done or even seen a raft in good repair.

Regardless of which raft the child rides in, there is some injury involved in the process. No matter how well intentioned, getting yanked out of a sinking boat or being pulled back into a repaired boat hurts. Most of the time these injuries will heal with time as long as the boat is sound enough and someone is paddling for the shore.

Now it is easy to assume that the child would be better off in the bigger, stronger boat. Sometimes that is true. However, often a "good enough" family boat can be better for the child than bigger, sturdier rescue vessel. The trauma of the rescue and the loss of their own raft can outweigh the benefits of being rescued.

As foster parents, our first goal is not only to rescue a child, but an entire family. We do this by supporting the parent-child relationship. Sometimes, when the circumstances are right, we can take this a step further by becoming their friend and giving their family the chance to see how our family functions. 

When, despite our and their best efforts, the sinking raft is not repairable, we try to rescue a child who we will hopefully heal from the loss and find a permanent spot in a new raft. 

1 comment:

Happy Elf Mom said...

THIS is why it's so harmful when some advocates say things like, "If every family that goes to church would just adopt one child..."

You know the type. Some of us really shouldn't do it.

Hope all is well with your family and Baby Bop has made a smooth as possible transition. :)