Over the past nearly 3 years, we have learned so much about the foster care system and our legal system. Here are a few of the top things we've learned;
1. The building says Office of Children Services but really it should be called-Office of We're Giving These Folks Every Possible Chance to Screw Up the Lives of Their Children and Endanger Their Safety and Well-Being. I suppose though, that it would cost too much to make a sign for that building. lol
2. No one prepares you for what you are going to go through. There is no class, book or Google site that can properly prepare you for all the challenges you face, issues you need to address, learning techniques to help your child, etc. You must constantly research and study new techniques, medicines, approaches and the like.
3. Every meeting, court hearing and the like that you attend, you are not even considered a party or participant. The child is hardly discussed and instead it is about the parent and the progress that they have/have not made.
4. There is a total and complete lack of minority and/or native foster homes. There is a lack of foster homes. Period. The number of children, here in Alaska, that need a safe home is well over 1300. Think of that for a moment-1300 children. That's just the ones that are reported. Doesn't count any new ones born each day, and doesn't count the unreported incidents.
5. Often, YOU are these children's ONLY voice. Sure, they have a court appointed guardian ad litem, but I can count on one hand, the number of times we've seen ours in 3 years. The only one who has the child's best interests at heart, and can bring their interest to the forefront of the case, address their needs whether that is therapy, physical therapy, intervention services, etc is YOU! The squeaky wheel gets the grease- so squeak loud and proud!!
6. We were so naive when we started this whole process. We truly believed that the bad guy got punished and went to jail. Yet, we have learned that in our case, the bad guy, keeps on doing what he has done the entire time, has over 70 court cases and hasn't done any jail time, follows us from OCS, but nothing can be done, racially threatens us, yet nothing is done, and even threatened my life with the words, "IF you wish to remain in her life..." and yet, nothing is done. It is written down and a report is filed. The end. This dude even has attempted to kidnap another child in another state, and yet NO JAIL TIME! Wondering when this bad guy is going to get punished. ;(
7. No matter what you endure, the trials your lovely little one puts you through as they detox, or face their anxiety issues, etc, it is all worth it at the end of the day. You have given loving care to someone who needed it desperately. You have provided them shelter in their time of need, a shoulder to cry on, someone to voice their opinions/feelings to, without fear of reprimand, and that in and of itself, is a blessed thing.
Please, please consider becoming a foster parent. There are so many children who need you! You can help! You can make a difference. Contact your Office of Children's Services today!!