Sunday, March 23, 2014

Linky Love-Perspectives on Birth Families and Foster Care

From Tona Ottinger:

"But to ask “who really wants these kids” is a generalized statement that sensationalizes and moves us to “pity” them. I bet their broken-hearted families do. Even if they are too covered in shame, embarrassment, addiction, or fear to admit it. I bet they want them. Deep in their hearts they wish they were free to live and love and provide for their kids. But they aren’t.

We need to reframe our thinking. We need to think about the bigger picture. We need to lay down our stereotypes of what good parenting is. We need to lay down racial prejudices that get in the way of seeing birth families culture and different ways of living as something that can be celebrated rather than judged. Not all cultures parent the way white evangelical parents do and that does not mean they don’t want or love their kids. (Feels good to finally say that)"

While the author wrote this regarding foster care, this truth is not just about foster care.  It's about teachers who teach kids who come from homes where the choices about tv programs or clothing or behaviors seem questionable.  It's about people who work with at risk kids through mentoring programs who aren't quite sure why Mom or Dad isn't stepping up to the plate.  It's about people who spend their days with kids in domestic violence shelters or homeless shelters who question how a parent lets this happen to their kids.  It's about those who see kids placed for adoption, be it domestic or international, who can't fathom how a birth parent could just "give their child away."

The bottom line is almost every single parent loves their kids.  Their choices may not be the same ones we would make.  Their lifestyle may not be reflective of what we think of when we think of a stable family.  Their actions may seem to indicate apathy.  But parents love their kids; they are loving them the only way they know how.  Even if it's not very pretty.  Even if it's downright ugly.  That waiting child, that messed up mom, that dad who is striking out-it's just not okay to take love out of their family equation.

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