November is adoption month amd since many adopted children often begin as children in foster care, a lot of attention this month is on foster and adoptive families.
I had the opportunity to work as a mentor this past weekend at a men's retreat in Arizona and it pained me to see man after man who grew up in abusive homes. They came from homes where there was often little love, or homes in which physical and sexual abuse caused deep and powerful wounds that have prevented these men from taking their own power. The work was intense and I realized the problem crosses over every economic, religious and social class in our culture and that it affects so many children.
While waiting for my airplane last night I read a lengthy article in the Phoenix daily newspaper about four babies, known as the Baby Quads. It was a heartwrenching story where all four babies, following an exciting and very public birth, were abused and are now in foster care. I sat there in the airport thinking back of the pain that grown men have from years of abuse and then looked down at the newspaper and simply asked the question, why. I do not understand how anyone could hurt a child or a baby.
Foster care has become large part of our communities and with the holidays coming up, these days are often a challenge for children in foster care. Holidays are challenging for foster and adopted children simply because these times often have a family focus in our culture and they are forced to be away from their birth families.
Greg Cowan, local representative helped to shed some light on commonly asked questions that come up about foster care.
What are some of the main considerations when children are removed from their biological parents? Three main goals are predominant: to reunite the child with the birth parents; to keep siblings together; and, to move a child placed in foster care as few times as possible. This is all easier said than done. The main limitation seems to always come down to the amount and types of foster families available in the area.
How many children are affected locally? On any given day, there are close to 100 children from Carbon and Emery Counties living with foster families.
What are some of the common concerns about becoming a foster family? Many people fear they will become too attached to children placed in their care and it will be too hard for them when it's time for children to be reunited with his or her parents. People need to realize that nobody comes with a guarantee.
"When you decide to love somebody you risk being hurt," says Cowan. "It's as simple as that."
Many foster families, however, speak of another feeling at this point in the relationship; that being one of accomplishment in reuniting a family, gratitude from birth parents and a having a fond place in a child's memory.
How does the Utah Foster Care Foundation support its foster families? The Utah Foster Care Foundation has partnered with Division of Child and Family Services and the Utah Foster and Adoptive Families Association to come up with a new program to help support foster families in Carbon and Emery Counties.
A new resource available will give them someone new to talk to: each other. The Resource Family "Cluster" Program has expanded into Eastern Utah. The primary goal of this program is providing foster families with the opportunity to meet each other. Two main benefits that grow from this are: meeting other foster families who can help by sharing their experiences; and, helping to support each other with respite, or relief care.
Where can someone get more information about becoming a foster parent? The Utah Foster Care Foundation has a local office located in Price. Cowan can be contacted at 636-0210.