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How the Hollis' used foster care for their personal adoption agency.

This was on Dave Hollis’ IG post yesterday.

“The 4-day-olds months later abandoned at a hospital, whose misrepresented adoptability led us to name them, bring them home & love them like our own until 8 weeks in it was revealed they had biological family who’d come forward for their future.”

He has majorly missed the point about foster care. His ex-wife Rachel also talks extensively about their foster care experience in her books. I had to speak up. Because it’s something that is important to talk about.

My question is, would you not have brought those children home, named them and loved them if you knew they might not stay forever? If the answer is no, then you’re not doing foster care.

And while I love that he’s trying to bring awareness to foster care, to me you need to understand what foster care is first.

Rachel and her ex-husband Dave decided they wanted to adopt a little girl. Which is a noble idea. They looked first at Ethiopia and when that didn’t pan out, they turned to foster care in the US. They approached the foster care system with a “what’s in it for me” attitude that a lot of people have. But in doing so, they missed the beauty and the mission behind foster care.

The Hollis’ lived in California at the time of their journey into foster care. Here is the California Department of Child and Family Services mission,

"The mission of the California Department of Social Services is to serve, aid, and protect needy and vulnerable children and adults in ways that strengthen and preserve families, encourage personal responsibility, and foster independence."

Strengthens and preserves families.This line is one that so often well meaning, in it for me people, just glaze right over. But by doing so, they miss the whole point of our foster care system.

Our foster care system wasn’t designed to be an adoption agency. It wasn’t designed to take children away from families and place them in “better” families because they want a girl. Harsh? Yes. But that’s the truth.

Families who are looking to solely adopt should consult an adoption agency.

Families who are looking to make a difference in a child and in a family’s life, should consult a foster agency. Can adoption be the outcome of fostering? Absolutely. But it should never be the main goal.

It can’t be the main goal because that’s not the mission or the purpose of foster care. Foster care is about reuniting families. It’s about keeping families together.

Let me tell you about a few of our foster placements to drive home my point.

One of our placements were brothers who were one and two. They were adorable! I can still picture their sweet smiles and feel their bodies snuggled into me as I rocked them to sleep. Their mom had fallen into hard times and was living in a shelter. It was winter and she had fallen into a bout of depression. The boys came into care while Children’s Aid helped the mom work through the depression and find a new place to live. They helped her get back on her feet so she could get her boys back. I loved those boys and I cried the day they left my home {and many days since}. But my head knew those boys needed to be with their mama.

Another placement we had was a six-year-old girl with Leukemia. She had two other sisters who didn’t come into care. Dad was a single dad trying to make it work with three young girls. He didn’t drive and was often late for treatments. The hospital would schedule an appointment at the same time he had to drop off, by taxi his other two daughters at school and daycare. Making it impossible for him to be on time. I’ll never forget what it was like to sit beside this little girl as she received chemo or to worry about her getting a fever. She was placed with us so she could finish out her treatments and as soon as she received a clean bill of health she went home, where she was meant to be.

That’s the thing about foster care. It’s not always black or white. They should parent or they shouldn’t. Sometimes parents need help. Sometimes they don’t have a support system. Someone to make all the moving pieces happen.

Yet, we paint these biological parents with the same brush. They all do drugs. They all should lose their children forever. Our home would be a better place for this child to live.

Bu that’s simply not the case.

The very best place for a child to be raised, is with their family.

Is it hard to say that? Absolutely. Is it heartbreaking to watch placements you’ve grown to love leave? Yes. But that is the calling, that’s the job.

So what can we do to fix this this opposing mission problem?

Agencies need to educate prospective foster parents better. They need to understand their own mission and find a way to teach that to foster parents. I’ve seen and talked to many foster parents who were heartbroken when their placement changed. Parents who thought they were going to adopt, only to find out they were not. We need better communication and honesty.

Rachel talks about this in her podcast. The agency they fostered with emailed and said that the potential placement was moving towards adoption and asked them to consider taking them. Only to later find out that wasn’t the case.

Agencies can’t make placement decisions out of desperation. They can’t make promises they can’t keep.

And foster parents or prospective foster parents need to remember it’s the agencies job first and foremost to reunify families if it’s safe to do so. Any placement can change at any time. It’s the nature of the work.

If you’re going to wade into the beautiful mess called foster care, you must be prepared. Talk to other foster parents, do some research. And go in with both eyes open to the mission and purpose of foster care.

And always remember that more often than that, the very best place for a child to be raised is with their biological family. And yes, that can mean extended family.

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