In Michigan- the classes are called PRIDE- Parental Resource for Information, Development and Education
My first session was supposed to be on Tues- but it was canceled due to the weather, so we will have an additional class next Tuesday.
It was very informational, and intimidating at times. But also comforting.
I was overwhelmed with the amount of information, but all of it is covered in the MASSIVE binder of paperwork we were given. Seriously, a 2" binder PACKED with session info and even a section called "Promoting Safety, Permanence and Well Being"
The good things I learned, that helped to put my mind at ease-
In Michigan- when a child is placed with a foster family- there are TWO plans. One for reunification, and one for termination of parental rights. Both are being worked on at the same time.
The birth parents are given approximately one year to complete the requirements, or show great improvement. If after a year- nothing has changed- DHS will petition the court to terminate parental rights.
I had read some horror stories (admittedly not in my state) of children placed in a home for several years only to be reunited with the birth family in the end. While I fully agree that reunification is the BEST option if possible, I can't imagine that kind of time frame being productive.
DHS of Michigan puts an emphasis on Permanency- rather than Reunification. Reunification is the preferable option, but if that doesn't promote permanency- than they choose another route.
We talked a lot about the fact that children in foster care need more love and time than many kids- and what that commitment is. I had a hard time with one of the videos because they showed images of a young boy with HORRIBLE bruises. And of course, internally I was asking God-once again- "WHY?" Why can they have children and abuse them in this way? Why can't I have a child? I don't think this line of thinking will ever go away.
I have already realized that I am going to need to work on not judging the birth parents. I want to say that I will always remember not to judge someone else, but I can't promise that. Thankfully my husband is usually better at that than me. I am compassionate, but I have a hard time being compassionate to someone who has made mistakes that hurt someone that I care about. Whereas my husband is a great listener who tends to just accept people as they are.
A lot of things we talked about were more geared for older children, and I wanted to write those things off mentally, but I don't know what lies ahead for us. While we may only be considering babies at this time- we may be in a place down the line to take in older children, and I still need to be prepared and know how to deal with the issues that may arise.
This session definitely didn't turn me off of foster parenting, but I realized that I need to learn some things about myself and work on them to make sure I can give any foster child the best possible home.