5 Reasons Why Reunification Can Be Best for Children in Foster Care
If you are, you know what it’s like to actively seek out what’s best for the child and their well-being. You know the delicate balance of caring for and loving the child and hoping that someday, they can be reunited with their parents.
Children enter foster care for a reason. Often, their parents are unable to care for them for any number of reasons. You understand why they live in your home, yet you may desire for your child to be able to have a permanent home.
But is reunification in the best interest of the child?
Below, we’ll discuss why reunification with birth parents remains one of the best options for children in foster care.
Keep reading to learn more!
Avoiding Childhood Trauma
Of course, when many Georgian parents lose custody of their children, it’s because their home is somehow not suitable for caring for a child.
This could be for a variety of reasons. Yet, all foster care cases in Georgia begin with the intention of reuniting the parents with the child, unless the child has been placed for adoption.
Typically, the state provides parents with a plan to follow, after which they may care for their child once again. Before the child is reunified with the parents, the state assesses the parents’ home to ensure it is a safe place for them to live.
When children do not return home, it’s often for a good reason. Yet, as the child grows, they may struggle with thoughts that their parents didn’t love them. Permanent separation, even at a young age, can lead to trauma.
In fact, many children experience depression, anxiety, or even PTSD from parental separation.
For this very reason, it is in their best interest to return to their parents, provided it becomes safe to do so.
Reassuring the Child
If you foster a child in the system because of an unsafe home environment, it’s natural to be wary about reunification.
After all, the child’s needs and safety exist at the front of your mind, as they should.
Still, the state has given the parent or parents a clear trajectory to get the child returned to them. For instance, if the parent abused substances, they might need to pursue and prove continued sobriety.
Even if you’re skeptical of their ability to remain sober, relapses are far from certain. In fact, the child’s parents may truly have turned from their harmful ways, and it’s good to celebrate their progress.
According to Wellroot’s Director of Foster Care, Ashley Blocker, reunification, when possible, is always the best scenario. Says Ashley, “we believe people can change and we should give them the opportunity to change and raise their parental capacity because children deserve to be with their families”.
Children in these situations also get to see the hard work their parents put in in order to get them back. Overall, this contributes to their confidence that their parents love them.
Of course, if you know of anything concerning and the child you care for is set to be reunified with their parent, alert the state.
Yet, if you only know that the child’s parents made progress, it’s best for both the child and the parents to reunite.
Circumventing Feelings of Being Unwanted with Reunification
Do you care for a child in foster care who fears they are unwanted?
Even if you don’t think you do, you might. Children don’t always express what they think or experience, and they may bury these feelings inside of them.
So, as their foster parent, keep in mind that children who don’t have their birth parents in their lives might feel as if they are not wanted. This can be especially prevalent in teenagers and older children.
Because of this, if a parent works at themselves in order to regain their custody, the results can be better for the child in the long-run.
Preventing Switches in Home Environments
Children within the foster care system often move from home to home.
There can be a variety of reasons for this. Sometimes, the home they live in originally might not be a good match. Other times, the foster parents may not be fully prepared to care for the child’s emotional or medical needs.
In some cases, a child has been separated from their siblings, and a home opens up which can take all of them. If this is the case, the state will relocate them to that home.
Constantly changing homes and caretakers can be traumatic for children, though. In some cases, it might further the idea that they are unwanted, and it most definitely creates a sense of instability.
When a child returns to the home of their biological parents, the need to change homes disappears, and the child has a permanent place to stay.
The state often allows parents to have supervised or unsupervised visits with their children. These visits are good for both the child and the parent. They allow them both to bond and increase the likelihood of reunification.
At Wellroot, we promote partnership parenting and encourage our foster parents to build relationships with the birth parents as it helps to minimize trauma children might experience.
Yet, the best thing for any child is to be allowed to bond with their parent continuously, while living at home. Many children bond best with their parents when they are able to spend copious amounts of time with them.
Because of this, once the home becomes safe for the children to live in, they should be allowed to return to their parents and experience greater bonding.
This also eliminates the emotional goodbyes that often come with parental visits.
Want More Resources?
If you care for a child in foster care in Georgia, you might want to know what reunification may look like for them.
It’s a good question. After all, children are impressionable, and shifting from one home to another might not be easy for them. Yet, reunification is often good for the child, as it gives the child the opportunity to bond with the parent and eliminates trauma.
Want more resources on foster care in Georgia? If so, contact us!