November 2, 2012

Guilt and Grace

I’ve been struggling some lately with my feelings on the girls’ case.

I am the foster parent that other foster parents get frustrated talking to because my rhetoric always comes back to, ‘but our job is to support them getting back home.’  Which is definitely not the most soothing thing to hear when there is all kinds of deregulation in said foster parent’s case.

I am hard nosed, to a fault, in the lets get these kids home, and keep them home *safely* department.  (Just go back and read posts from the beginning of Bella’s case.)


But lately when I’m  zoning out thinking about the girls’ case, I catch myself being all:

“This is pointless.  Even if the girls don’t implode over visits, why even have them now? (although implosion is on the rise.)  Let’s just get this over with.  I hope I don’t have to sit with Mom for two hours at the next hospital appointment…”


Now, granted, from a very realistic perspective, reunification is not going to happen in this case.  Not at this point. 

So how am I supposed to approach my feelings about all of this?


What I absolutely don’t want to do is lose perspective and go all raging foster parent on the case.  (Easy to do.)


I have, and want to maintain a compassion for Bella and Tootaw’s parents.  I don’t want to lose an honest heart in knowing that I cannot possibly understand what life has always been like, and is for them.

I have been privileged in ways that I cannot just pretend do not exist.  I never had to worry about real life when I was growing up. I had parents and role models who taught me what I needed to know to “be successful” and encouraged me to do so.  I was not hyper exposed to things that were not appropriate.  High school was expected of me, college was encouraged.  The list goes on.  I did nothing to earn or deserve any of those things.

I have absolute empathy for their position, their backgrounds, their lack of support.



Simultaneously, none of this precludes Bella and Tootaw from needing, and having the right by law, to justice.  An opportunity to move forward, and a hope for healing. The system is in place to look out for the best interest of the children, not the parents, and I think near the end of cases this gets a little muddled.


Of course, all of this points to the brokenness of the system, as well.  If we were as heavy handed in prevention, support, and resourcing as we are in other areas of child welfare, I think many of these cases could just be prevented.


All that to say, that these things conflict in my heart.  This desire to support, love, and encourage their parents, while simultaneously feeling like in reality, this case needs to go to adoption and these girls need to be allowed consistency in which to work out all the confusion.

There are a lot of people who hear about the girls’ case and are ripe to root for TPR and to be disgusted with their parents (a struggle for me as well).  But I can’t help but to want to throw up just a little bit at the sound of that.  I mean, what is it that we are truly doing here?  Let’s maintain perspective on the mourning that should be involved.


I don’t want to feel guilty advocating for what seems to be what is best for the girls because it simultaneously feels like giving up on something we made every effort to support.

There are not easy answers for this.  All this brokenness.  What does it look like to offer grace to the girls, and also to their parents?  To love them both?


  1. Oh, Mama Popp...if only I could be as eloquent as you. I am stuck on a fence between raging foster parent and good foster parent. I just wrote about this a bit ago. I've been having to pray intensely to keep my focus of compassion and love for our bioparents.

    I feel like our case is hard, because Peanut has been in our home with less than a dozen hour-long visits with his biomom in 11 months. Even if they were to get back on track, he would be at the youngest 16 months old before he could be returned. The problem for me is the lack of established relationship with them, by their own choice.


    You are so right, though. So right. I hate those conversations too, because I have the same stance.

  2. You have a good heart, Maggie.

  3. Oh I hear you. A friend said to me today: "It would be so fabulous for them if they could go and live with family, and it would be so fabulous for them if they could stay and live with you."

  4. So very difficult. So very complicated. Perspective. Thanks for sharing.

  5. How about being a relative-care foster placement? I completely understand how hard it is. And when the parents are related to you, it is unbelievably hard. We had to make a choice to put the children first, no matter what. We prayed and hoped and wished that the parents would get it together. They refused to accept help or to believe that we weren't stealing their children. Now we are at the end of our journey and when it ultimately should have ended with being all about the children, it ended with it being what was easiest and didn't require more staffing or work on the part of caseworkers and attorneys. Indeed it is a very broken system.


Thanks for commenting!!


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